"We just want to win. We want to do whatever it takes to win. If that means sacrificing playing time or swallowing egos, that’s no problem with us. That’s a testament to how we were trained all year round."
Would Urban Meyer ever consider putting J.T. Barrett in as a red zone quarterback? It was suggested by a reporter at Meyer’s postgame press conference last week after the Ohio State Buckeyes went 0-3 on red zone trips against Indiana. And Saturday against Maryland, the two-quarterback pipedream Buckeye fans have been yearning for since the offseason came to fruition.
Or really, the three quarterback system.
Braxton Miller took some snaps from the wildcat Saturday, but unlike previous games where the play was sniffed out and thwarted early, Miller, along with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, managed to have more success.
But the biggest change to the previously stagnant offense came in the form of J.T. Barrett coming in on five of six red zone possessions, and managing touchdowns on all of them. Barrett himself rushed for three, while Elliott capitalized on two. Cardale Jones, who threw a 19 yard touchdown to Miller in the second quarter, rounded out the red zone scoring.
To top it all off, all quarterbacks cleaned up their play, throwing no picks during the game. Overall, the Buckeyes had no turnovers to Maryland’s two, which is a massive improvement over previous weeks, where turnovers and penalties had proven costly in keeping otherwise sealed games too close for comfort.
Meyer had brought the issue up to Jones and Barrett last week, along with offensive coordinator Ed Warinner. Jones noted that Meyer does an "unbelievable job" at managing the two-quarterback situation, understanding each player’s strengths and weaknesses in a given situation, such as Barrett’s ability to run in the red zone. But Meyer has had previous experience with a two-quarterback system, going back to his 2006 season at Florida where he managed both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow in a similar fashion.
It also goes back to both quarterbacks, however, who have managed to eliminate any selfishness they may have felt for the job for the good of the team.
"Obviously we wish we would have played better. We gave up quite a few rushing yards. The quarterback had the majority of them. That’s something we’re going to have to be on the lookout for. I know our coaches are going to have answers. It seems like every time somebody does something, we come back with answers."
November’s game against Michigan is looming larger every day, especially given another Michigan shutout, who have now held BYU, Maryland and Northwestern to a collective zero points. Even the week one loss to Utah doesn’t look all that bad now, given that the Utes have now cracked the top four in the AP Poll.
Unfortunately, Ohio State’s defense has not been quite as stout. While the offense seems to have found a rhythm, the defense has broken down over the last two games against Indiana and Maryland. In those games, the Buckeyes allowed at least three points in each quarter. Extending back to four games, that statistic jumps to points in 13 of 16 quarters.
The Indiana game Oct. 3 was a nailbiter for Buckeye fans, who watched as Ohio State nearly blew a 14-point lead on the last play of the game. Saturday’s match against Maryland, however, saw a less-than-prime Terrapin team claw back from its own 14-point deficit to tie up the game 21-21 in the third quarter before Ohio State dropped 28 points of their own.
The Buckeyes have had particular issue with rushing quarterbacks. Indiana’s Zander Diamont ran for 98 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to bring the Hoosiers within seven. Maryland’s Perry Hills scored on two touches and ran for a total of 170 yards on 25 carries. One 75 yard run was saved only by Ohio State safety Vonn Bell taking Hills down at the three-yard line. Hills also threw for a 52-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Moore on Maryland’s opening drive.
Still, the defense has played well from play to play, allowing only 28 yards on the four drives between Maryland’s first two touchdowns. But the big play looms large, and that is something that Ohio State will have to shore up quickly.
"Yeah, that was definitely something I was kind of thinking about. I probably shouldn’t be. But I really didn’t have the best game today. I had a lot of misreads. I was impatient on a lot of runs."
After a two-touchdown, 106-yard performance on the ground, Ezekiel Elliott has extended his streak of 100-plus yard games to 11. Elliott managed the feat with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run, after which he was replaced by junior running back Bri’onte Dunn.
Elliott credited his offensive line with opening up the holes in the second half that allowed Elliott to reach the 100-yard mark.
Elliott’s longest run on the day was 19 yards, which was a far cry from the 75-yarder we saw last week against Indiana. Still, it was longer than either of his 13-yard rushes that were his longest gains against both Hawaii and Northern Illinois.
The streak began last November against Indiana, when Elliott went for a total of 107 yards on 13 carries, and extended famously through the postseason, where he rushed for more than 200 yards each against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. The longest run of the streak came against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, where Elliott rushed for 85 yards.
Elliott’s best rushing performance of the 2015 season came against Indiana, where he went for 274 yards on 23 carries for three touchdowns, carrying the Buckeyes to a win.
The Ohio State men’s soccer team has won five straight games, and is one of the hottest teams in college soccer. The squad is now ranked No. 22 in the NCAA, and is the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten after starting the 2015 season unranked.
Ohio State had two overtime wins last week to extend their streak. The Buckeyes faced Bowling Green at home Wednesday night, defeating the Falcons 2-1 in double overtime on a goal by junior forward Christian Soldat. They then went on the road to Indiana Saturday, winning 1-0 in one overtime on a penalty kick in the 98th minute by Senior defender Liam Doyle. Previously, the Buckeyes had beaten Dayton, Louisville and Michigan State in succession. With the win, the men’s team improved to 6-4-2 overall this season, and 2-1-1 in conference play. The Buckeyes are in third place in Big Ten standings based on points.
After dropping four straight early in the season and falling to 1-4 overall, the Buckeyes rebounded, tying No. 3 Akron in a double-overtime matchup. They tied Penn State at home before beginning their five-game win streak. Last week, three games into the streak, junior forward Danny Jensen and senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer won Big Ten offensive and defensive player of the week honors, respectively.
The Buckeyes face Kentucky on the road Wednesday. Ohio State has four more conference games to play before the Big Ten Tournament starts Nov. 7