Skull Session: Joe Burrow Looks Up To J.T. Barrett, Ohio State's Running Game is Predictable, and C.J. Stroud Can Score on Any Play

By Kevin Harrish on January 6, 2022 at 4:59 am
C.J. Stroud is blocking out the haters in today's skull session.

I'm hearing rumors that the BasketBucks are at it again tonight... Winning streaks are fun. Let's keep this one, please.

Word of the Day: Doyen.

 JUST A COUPLE JOES. Joe Burrow is having the best season as a quarterback in Cincinnati Bengals history and has his team in the playoffs in his first full season as a starter.

But he hasn't forgotten his roots or who helped get him here.

It's probably hard not to learn how to be a leader when you see this in practice every day.

J.T. Barrett kinda gets lost in Ohio State's recent quarterbacking history given *gestures at the three Heisman Trophy finalists* and there's no pretending his arm is the same caliber as any of those guys.

But man, the dude could lead a team.

 BE LESS PREDICTABLE. PLEASE. Listen. It's tough to get too up in arms about an offensive performance when your team puts up almost 700 yards of total offense, scores 48 points, and has multiple record-breaking performances.

But I've still got beef.

As good as the Ohio State passing game is, the Buckeyes have a lot of work to do on the ground game. Part of it is the offensive line, but a way more frustrating part of it is that Ohio State is still announcing at the line of scrimmage whether it's going to be a run play or a passing play.

In the end I’m not sure Ohio State’s offensive line was built to consistently excel in the run game. This was a great pass blocking outfit, no doubt helped by the proliferation of tackles used at various positions. But the trade-off in playing tackles at guard, as the offense did for much of the year with Munford and Paris Johnson Jr. playing inside, is not enough leverage to run the ball up the middle consistently, not enough speed to really get the wide-zone game going and just a comedy of errors often times when trying to implement gap schemes.


Beyond that, coach Ryan Day and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson need to think long and hard about their rushing plan. It’s not particularly diverse. And it is oh so predictable. Check out this breakdown:

• Ohio State ran 47 plays from the shotgun against Utah, and 42 of them were passes. That’s an 89 percent throw rate out of the gun. Even if you account for the run-pass options — called runs that turn into throws, of which I counted nine — that’s still not great.

• OSU ran 19 plays either from the pistol formation or under center, and 14 of those were runs. Day was better about mixing in some play-action pass in the second half than he was in the first half, but this is likewise too predictable.

If defenses are able to suss out run or pass based on sheer formation, you’re asking for trouble. And I can’t help but think that’s part of why Ohio State averaged fewer than 5 yards per carry in four of its last six games (including a paltry 2.13 against Michigan). This is the area of the offense that needs the most scrutiny in 2022.

The good news is, these problems are a hell of a lot more fun to fix when you have one of the top returning running backs in the country!

With all of that working against him, TreVeyon Henderson still finished the season second in the country with 6.82 yards per carry. Lord knows what he could do in an offense that's actually working in his favor.

 THREE PASSES, THREE TOUCHDOWNS. Now that we got the unfun part out of the way, let's talk about the absolutely unstoppable portion of this Buckeye offense – the passing game.

There was a stretch at the end of the first half where there were like five touchdowns and a near touchdown in like a three-minute span. It was absolutely nuts and one of the most entertaining things I've seen in a bowl game ever.

However, for a combination of reasons (highlighted by a teen committing in the middle of the Rose Bowl), I missed an extremely impressive stat that we need to talk about – Ohio State's three consecutive touchdowns during that stretch came on three-straight completions.

So basically, the Buckeyes can just score at any time from any part of the field, which absolutely rules.

We all went into this game looking at this as a preview of the 2022 offense. I think it's fair to say that everyone should be extremely afraid because it's looking like a fully armed and operational Death Star II.

 BULL RUSHER. Not many pass rushers beat Dawand Jones this year – which is fair, because it takes some time to run around a mountain. But TreVeyon Henderson has a for that...

Listen, I know this was a joke, but if anyone is going to put a 6-foot-8, 360-pound behemoth on his ass, it's him.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2.

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