The first two games of Kevin Wilson’s tenure as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator haven’t lived up to the hype.
A slow start against Indiana was excusable, as Ohio State ultimately scored 49 points on 596 total yards of offense in its season opener at Indiana, but Wilson’s offense never got going against Oklahoma on Saturday, when the Buckeyes scored just one touchdown and suffered a 31-16 loss.
Although Ohio State fans have expressed frustration and disappointment that Wilson has yet to make the offense noticeably better, which was the expectation when he replaced 2016 co-offensive coordinators Tim Beck and Ed Warinner, the blame hasn't been all pointed at him.
Because Ohio State’s offense has looked similar to how it did last year, it’s been questioned whether Wilson has actually been calling the shots, or whether it’s really head coach Urban Meyer running the offense.
Because J.T. Barrett has continued to struggle as a passer, it’s been suggested that a quarterback change would make the Buckeyes better.
It’s also been suggested that the wide receivers are the problem with Ohio State’s offense, as the players in that position group have struggled to separate themselves both among one another and from opposing defensive backs.
Wilson himself, however, says he is responsible for Ohio State’s early struggles on offense.
The offensive coordinator repeatedly pointed the finger of blame at himself during his press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Wednesday.
"I think I got to do a better job through practice, organization and through game calling to put our kids in better places. I was awful Saturday," Wilson said. "At the end of the day, I think I just got to do a better job of piecing it together, anticipating and some practice things to get us in rhythm and what we’re going to emphasize and gain some confidence and gain some momentum and efficiency as an offense, instead of being all over the place."
While Meyer still has influence over the offense – and one issue is that Meyer and Wilson are still figuring out how to merge their offensive philosophies together – Meyer said Wednesday that Wilson is the primary offensive play caller. Meyer also said that offensive play calling has not been up to par through the Buckeyes’ first two games, and that he and Wilson need to work together to improve that.
"Last week, I did not think it went well, so it’s obviously a work in progress," Meyer said. "We have to do better. It should be better. It should be much better."
Wilson says it’s on him to make sure that improvement happens.
"We just got to get our offensive rhythm back, and that starts with me," Wilson said.
“I was awful Saturday.”– Kevin Wilson
While critics of Barrett have expressed doubts that Ohio State’s offense will get back on track as long as he is quarterback, Wilson believes Barrett will have more success if he can start putting Barrett in better positions to succeed.
"He’s going to look good, at the end of the day, when we, starting with me, do the job and get it going," Wilson said. "He is a phenomenal manager, and it’s my job to get us in position where he can be the player he is.
"I know he’s disappointed with the way he played," Wilson added. "I know I and his surrounding teammates got to help him."
Wilson acknowledged that Ohio State’s wide receivers failed to get open on Saturday, but he says that doesn’t mean they’re bad receivers. Instead, Wilson believes he needs to make better play calls to enable those receivers to play to their strengths.
"We were an offense that was disjointed Saturday and that’s as much of the rhythm of the game, the play calling than a kid can separate from a route or run a route," Wilson said. "We got tremendous athletes and great route-runners. J.T. can throw the football. It’s me getting us in a rhythm and playing offense the way we need to play … I haven’t given those guys a chance.
"When we get playing with 11 guys together and get clicking, those guys will be open, the QB will make his plays, the run game will work and we’ll look like a good offense. We’ll see how close we can get this week to get that thing back to being elite like we need to be and we should be."
Wilson’s first chance to get the offense back on track comes Saturday, when the Buckeyes play Army at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on Fox.