The Buckeyes are heading into Homecoming week as they prepare to face conference newcomer Maryland this Saturday. Being undefeated is only part of the story for a number one team that needs to find their swagger if they intend on making a second run at the College Football Playoffs. The Buckeyes certainly haven't played like the number one team over the last few weeks.
Ohio State squeaked out a one-score victory over Indiana on the road for their first conference game, 34-27. The Hoosiers were also 4-0 coming into the meeting, but despite scoring first, were unable to keep the lead over the Buckeyes.
Strengths and weaknesses at QB
- Cardale Jones has remained the starter under center, but again struggled with the deep passing game. Meyer noted last week, the coaches were going to focus on Jones' mechanics, but even with a week of work, he went 18-of-27 for 245 yards and a touchdown, while throwing one interception. He had a few 20-plus yard passes, but most were aided in the receivers making plays after the catch.
- Jones "had a decent day, but misfired on three in a row." He and the offense had a tough time on third-down conversions, which Meyer said were the result of timing and execution issues.
- When asked about the quarterback run game, Meyer said it depends on who the quarterback is. Going through his history, his strategy has differed depending on the QB skill set. The team isn't heavy on the run game right now, but still sees room for improvement.
- Would Meyer consider putting Barrett in as the red zone guy? "We've thought about it, we've had that conversation, but at this time we haven't made any decisions."
Offensive weapons improving
- Former areas that the team had strength are now in need of improvement, including "turnovers and redzone production," per Meyer. The receivers were challenged to get better on their perimeter blocking which they did against Indiana, opening running lanes for Elliott.
- Ezekiel Elliott was an all-star on Saturday, recording several school and career records, and showing what a ground and pound offense can do. He played "outstanding" this week, per Meyer. They went to the gap scheme in the second-half, which showed improvement on the rush game later in the game, and opened other holes for Elliott.
- Meyer says its "frustrating" that they can't get the ball to Braxton Miller as often as he'd like, but acknowledged you can't throw to him if he isn't open.
Silver Bullets struggle
- Tyvis Powell gave up a sure-interception in the fourth-quarter, adding to the first game the Buckeye defense had without a turnover. The secondary as a whole was less impressive than earlier in the season, with Eli Apple being flagged for pass interference on more than one occasion and Vonn Bell making a few mistakes downfield.
- Ohio State's defense surrendered 402 offensive yards to the Hoosiers and fell to No. 14 for total defense in college football.
Special team inconsistencies
- Jalin Marshall just a year removed from a season that included several dropped kick-off return attempts, gave Buckeye Nation deja vu as he had two critical fumbles following catches.
Preparing for Maryland
- Meyer sees the team a lot closer to being great with improved perimeter blocks, play-action passes and fundamentals. If the team can eliminate turnovers and penalties, the efficiency would be far better.
- Injury update: Corey Smith is out for the rest of the season with a broken leg that he sustained during Saturday's game against Indiana. Meyer described this injury as similar to Noah Brown's, and added that Smith could possibly get another year as a medical redshirt. Gareon Conley left the field against Indiana with a migraine in the first quarter and didn't return until the second-half; he is expected to be fine ahead of the Maryland matchup. Curtis Samuel did not play much against the Hoosiers after suffering back spasms and missing the week's practice. Parris Campbell should be back this week against Maryland as well.
Players/champions of the game
- Offense: Player of the game was Ezekiel Elliott; Champions include Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller, Corey Smith, Dontre Wilson, Pat Elflein and Billy Price.
- Defense: Co-players of the game were Tyquan Lewis and Adolphus Washington; Champions include Joey Bosa, Tommy Schutt, Vonn Bell, Gareon Conley, Joshua Perry, Raekwon McMillan and Darron Lee.
- Special Teams: Player of the game was Joe Burger -- for making a big tackle on Indiana's fake punt attempt to stop the Hoosiers from coming back.