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Ohio State football: Breaking down the offense vs. Michigan State

With an excellent game plan, the Ohio State offense executed from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, racking up 568 total yards and 49 points on the vaunted Spartan defense.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

J.T. Barrett

Designed Runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions TD Pass Scrambles Overthrow Underthrow Throwaway
10 29 16 10 2 3 0 0 2
Pressures Hit during throw Sacked Pass break-up Batted at LOS Drops Intercepted TD Run DPI
3 3 1 1 1 3 0 2 1
  • The offense ran nine plays on the first drive and the ball was in Barrett's hands every single time. He threw seven passes and ran the ball twice.
  • Barrett threw his best pass of the season in the second quarter on 3rd-and-23 to Devin Smith. It was 40-yards in the air, placed perfectly on Smith's outside shoulder where only he could catch the ball. Amazing throw and an excellent catch by Smith.
  • Barrett threw another beautiful ball on Smith's touchdown reception. He froze the safety looking left then lofted a perfect deep ball to Smith who easily beat his defender, in stride, for a score.
  • His arm strength has been a question all season, underthrowing the majority of his deep balls. But his arm strength was an asset, rather than a disappointment vs. Michigan State.
  • Barrett may not have Braxton Miller's play making ability or athleticism in the running game but he is a smart, physical runner with great vision. He read his blocks perfectly on the multiple quarterback draws in short yardage situations.
  • He was extremely accurate, as I charted zero overthrows and zero underthrows.

Running Backs

  • Once again, Ezekiel Elliott was very physical in the run game and without the ball as a blocker. He is a violent runner and blocker. The second series (first touchdown series) was all Elliott, as he put the offense on his back before Barrett scored.
  • Here is Elliott's 47-yard counter play in the first quarter, which was blocked and executed to perfection.

  • Curtis Samuel made a great cut block on Barrett's second touchdown run. It was the exact same play from last year's 4th-and-2 vs. the Spartans but it was executed this time. Running backs coach Stan Drayton has turned these running backs into every down backs, which is very rare for a sophomore and freshman.
  • Elliott got stronger and gashed the Spartan defense in the second half, which is a credit to the strength coach, Mickey Marotti.

Wide Receivers

  • This was the best game by this unit since Urban Meyer has been the head coach at Ohio State. They were blocking well on the outside, getting open and making plays in the passing game.
  • Not sure what Jalin Marshall was doing on this play on the goal line. The play looked like it was designed for the two outside receivers to pick Marshall's man but he never ran a route or turned his head looking for the ball. If he ran a crisp route, it looked like the switch concept that I touched on before the game which would have been open for an easy touchdown. Luckily, they scored on the next play. Michael Thomas also looked open on the play but Barrett did not see him.

  • Michael Thomas ran an excellent route on his slant pattern that went for a touchdown.

  • Dontre Wilson had a rough night holding onto the football and it ended with him breaking his foot. I believe that he broke it at the 4:50 mark of the third quarter after running an out pattern, as he came up limping and favoring his foot during the rest of the drive. He actually ran a play from the Wildcat formation on the following play then later caught a touchdown. Although he has been inconsistent this season, his role is vital in this offense and he will be missed. Look for more Marshall, Noah Brown and two tight end sets with Wilson on the shelf.

Tight Ends

  • Jeff Heuerman did an excellent job blocking, making up for last year's disappointing performance. He was key on the designed quarterback draws and executed the block every single time.
  • I thought we would see a vertical shot off of play action in the seam to one of the tight ends but it was either not called or they did not get open.
  • As I pointed out, expect more two tight end sets with Wilson out with a broken foot.

Offensive Line

  • The offensive line had a tough first quarter, with a couple of false starts and a hands to the face penalty that took the offense out of scoring range but they kept Barrett upright all game.
  • I charted one sack and three pressures the entire game. What a great game by the young offensive line vs. Michigan State's talented front seven.

Defense and Special Teams

  • Michael Bennett has started to make his presence known after a slow start to the season. With Joey Bosa gaining extra attention from multiple blockers all night, Bennett dominated the interior of Michigan State's offensive line. He was penetrating play after play and showing off his quick first step, which was a staple of his game in 2013.
  • Speaking of Bosa, he had his toughest game in a while but he was often double and sometimes even triple teamed in passing situations. The Spartans did a good job of keeping a tight end and/or a running back on Bosa's side. He may not have made an impact on the stat sheet but other defensive linemen including Bennett and Adolphus Washington really benefited from single blocking.
  • Here is a new wrinkle that we saw this week, with Bosa lined up behind Bennett in a linebacker role in an Ameoba front. He rushed the passer and got good penetration before Connor Cook released the ball quickly.

  • Raekwon McMillan continues to impress and is making an impact as a true freshman.
  • The tackling has been a strong suite for the defense for the majority of the season but they took a step back against the physical Michigan State ball carriers. Let's hope it reverts back to form for the rest of the season.
  • Doran Grant did a very good job on the Big Ten's leading receiver, Tony Lippett, holding him to 64 yards on five receptions.
  • With Armani Reeves out of the game at nickelback and Eli Apple sitting out the first drive with a sore hamstring, red-shirt freshman Gareon Conley got the start at cornerback. He had a rough first drive, giving up a long pass, then missing a tackle leading to a Michigan State touchdown. Highly recruited out of high school, I would not write him off after being thrown into the fire against a very tough Spartan team but it was not a great premiere for the Massillon product.
  • The special teams were a strong point for the Buckeyes all season but they were the weak link on Saturday. Wilson coughed up the ball twice on kick returns and Marshall let the ball bounce on a punt return that should have been caught, resulting in a turnover.