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Ohio State football: Breaking down the offense vs. Michigan

The offense struggled early but J.T. Barrett orchestrated three great touchdown drives before his season was cut short by an ankle injury.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

J.T. Barrett

Designed runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions TD pass Scrambles Overthrown Underthrown Throwaway
12 24 12 8 1 4 2 0 1
Pressured Hit during throw Sacked Pass breakup Batted at LOS Drops Defensive PI Intercepted TD run
3 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1
  • I thought the offense squandered a huge opportunity on the second drive. They started in Michigan territory but could not turn good field position into points. Instead, Cameron Johnston punted the ball into the end zone and Michigan drove down the field to tie the game. Could have forced the Wolverines to give up early.
  • One thing that will surely be missed is Barrett's short-yardage running ability. He displayed great power and vision in short-yardage situations since Rod Smith was dismissed. At his size, his ability to drag defenders and gain first down yardage after contact is amazing.
  • Barrett did not have a great first quarter. He was 3-for-7 throwing the ball with two overthrows.
  • Barrett orchestrated a perfect two-minute drill which tied the game at 14 right before halftime. He got into a rhythm and this drive gave the Buckeye offense momentum heading into the half.
  • His scramble to tie the game at 14 was a thing of beauty and it exemplified his game. He surveyed the field for 4.65 seconds, made a defender miss, then outran the rest of the Michigan defense for a 25-yard touchdown run. 1:06:44-1:06:58
  • Early in the third quarter, Barrett made an excellent throw to Devin Smith on a deep ball. I thought his arm strength was his major issue earlier this season but it got better as the season progressed.
  • The back-to-back touchdown drives at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half were as good as it gets when you defer the coin toss. It was executed just how it was drawn up.
  • His best throw of the game came on third-and-6 at the 3:24 mark of the third quarter to Michael Thomas. Barrett faced a collapsing pocket and pressure in his face but he stayed in the pocket to completed the ball to Thomas with a defender draped all over him. This was a NFL-type throw.

  • On the injury, the read defender played it perfectly by not committing to either Jalin Marshall or Barrett on the outside zone read. Some may argue he ran the ball too much vs. Michigan (12 designed runs and four scrambles) but he has been averaging roughly around 12 designed runs per game and the scrambles occurred under pressure or when the receivers could not get separation. Overall, it was a good defensive play by the read defender with a freak/unfortunate ending to the play and Barrett's season. I will have a future post on Barrett's season and statistics coming up.

Running backs

  • The Michigan defense played the running game tough, forcing the ball carriers to earn every yard. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott responded well and showed their physicality by finishing runs.
  • The play of the game was Elliott's 44-yard touchdown run which was broken down by 11w's Kyle Jones. It gashed Michigan's hope of a comeback and it gave a preview of what Wisconsin will be in for this weekend.
  • Loved the confidence that the coaching staff had in the offensive line and Elliott to get the first down on that play. If you cannot trust your offense to gain a yard against the Michigan defense, then you might as well not show up in the Big Ten Championship Game.
  • Elliott will be the number one marked man on the Ohio State offense this week and I believe that he is ready for it.

Wide Receivers

  • Corey Smith was more involved than usual. He caught three passes and delivered a huge downfield block. He is very talented, he just needs to put it all together and become a more consistent player.
  • In the first half, the wide receivers had major troubles getting separation from the Wolverine defensive backs. Barrett was forced to run early and often, after surveying the field from the pocket, due to the receivers lack of separation.
  • Marshall's role is going to heavily expand, whether it be in the wildcat formation or on horizontal plays. With Barrett out, Marshall is now the team's best overall playmaker and they will need him at his best for them to succeed.
  • Coach Meyer has consistently praised the skill players, saying that Barrett was a product of the system. Will they allow Jones to throw the ball or will the ball primarily be in Elliott's, Marshall's and Jones' hands as ball carriers?

Tight Ends

  • Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett had another solid game both as pass catchers and run blockers.
  • Heuerman has vastly improved as a run blocker since last season. He takes pride in it now.
  • Expect more two tight end sets in short yardage and overall, as I expect Coach Herman to call a run-heavy game versus Wisconsin in Jones' first start.

Offensive Line

  • The offensive line continued to give Barrett time in the pocket to survey the field and open holes for the ball carriers.
  • Barrett was only pressured three times, sacked once and hit during a throw once.

Defensive Tidbits

  • The defense/ Devin Gardner set up the Buckeyes' first touchdown via a Vonn Bell interception. It set the tone early.
  • I thought Coach Ash came out with an aggressive game plan, pressuring Gardner early.
  • They will face their toughest challenge of the season versus Wisconsin's offensive line and Melvin Gordon, which I will touch on later this week.
  • The first drive of the second quarter for the Ohio State defense was one of the worst drives they had given up all season. It was a 15-play, 95-yard drive that took seven minutes off of the clock.
  • Joey Bosa had two penalties that extended drives but the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is allowed to make the occasional mistake or two, per game.
  • The pass coverage has vastly improved since last season but the rush defense has taken a step back. They have been tested by some of the best running backs and linemen in the country so far, which could help when preparing for Wisconsin.
  • Just like the offensive skill position players, the defense will have to step up in Barrett's absence.