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Ohio State's offense rose from the dead. Here's how

The offense showed improvement last Saturday, but they are by no means a finished product.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The offense came back from the dead, putting up 511 total yards in a balanced attack in a 38-12 win over Western Michigan. They played with better tempo, better play calling and better execution. The offense is not where it needs to be, but they bounced back after back-to-back, lack luster performances.

Here is the breakdown:

Cardale Jones

Designed runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions TD pass Scrambles Overthrow Underthrow Throwaway
2 40 19 13 2 6 2 6 3
Pressured Sacked Hit during throw Pass break-up Batted at LOS Drops Intercepted TD run Defensive PI
7 1 4 4 0 0 1 0 0

*Tap passes do not count as pass attempts

  • The first offensive series was played with excellent tempo and gave fans a flashback to last season. It was a good mix of play calling and jet tempo.
  • On Jones' first touchdown pass of the day, he did a good job of recognizing the cornerback blitz and made them pay by hitting Michael Thomas on a hot route. The only issue was that Thomas was massively underthrown and had to make an adjustment, something that happened numerous times throughout the afternoon.
  • Jones struggled with the deep ball, but his arm strength showed up on intermediate throws outside of the numbers. When he is confident and in a groove, he makes NFL-type throws.
  • The threat of the Ezekiel Elliott opened up the second touchdown pass of the game. When the running game gets going, the safeties have to bite down on it. This is what made the offense so special with Jones at quarterback last season. When Samuel motioned into the slot, Western Michigan showed man coverage and he cleared his cornerback out of the play. Jones pump faked to Elliott, causing Jalin Marshall's defender to stop his feet, as Marshall ran past him for an easy score. Elliott demands so much attention from the secondary when he gets involved early.
  • His best throw of the afternoon came at the 5:55 mark of the second quarter. Jones stood in the pocket, took a hit while he threw the ball, and dropped a 40-yard dime in the lap of Curtis Samuel.

  • Jones does a good job of throwing the ball away when he does not have anything. He had three on the afternoon.
  • The offense needs to do a better job converting in the red zone. Finish drives by running the ball. He overthrew Thomas in the end zone on what should have been an easy touchdown.
  • I thought Jones had great command in the two-minute drill until a questionable grounding call ended the half. Jones was 6-of-8 passing on the drive. Overall, Jones was 14-of-21 in the first half with three of those incompletions being throwaways, great half for him.
  • He struggled in the first drive of the second half, as he underthrew two deep balls that should have been big plays (one should have resulted in an interception). Jones did bounce back though and finished the drive nicely, resulting in a touchdown.
  • Jones was finally picked off late in the third quarter after another underthrow. Marshall had his man beat again, but Jones underthrew his receiver. Meyer touched on this during his press conference, calling it a problem with his mechanics. It is something that needs to be fixed. Jones needs to understand that it is better to throw it where only his receiver can catch the ball, so it would be completed or overthrown, rather than give the defender a chance to make a play on the ball. Six underthrows on the day just cannot happen.
  • Here is another example of an underthrow by Jones, where Samuel had his defender beat easily:

Running backs/ H-backs

  • Elliott had a chance to break one open, but tripped over Jacoby Boren. It seems like there are numerous chances for big plays, but it just has not gone their way yet.
  • The team needs to figure out how to use Braxton Miller; the Wildcat is not working and it is being used at inopportune times. Get him the ball in space on the perimeter, using bubble screens or quick passes. The defense keys hard on Miller when he is lined up in the Wildcat and although it will eventually lead to a deep ball attempt, the runs are not working. Let him make a man miss on the perimeter and he will be off to the races.
  • After Jones' 40-yard pass to Samuel, they took him out for Miller. That resulted in a false start, then a timeout, and a loss of momentum. This happens every single game. Leave Jones in after a big-play.
  • Samuel is a valuable weapon and he needs to be used more as a tailback. He possesses excellent vision and he has gotten quicker since last season. I would like for him to get more carries going north-south as the season rolls on.

Wide receivers

  • Thomas was once again Mr. Consistent on the perimeter. He hauled in 6-of-8 targets and the two targets that fell incomplete came on inaccurate throws from Jones. It still amazes me that Thomas has yet to have a 100-yard receiving game in his career.
  • Marshall has the jets to be a deep-threat, but as mentioned above, Jones needs to work on his deep ball. Marshall can gain separation vertically but he does not have the size or body control to come down with contested balls like Devin Smith.
  • Corey Smith has been a solid contributor since coming back from suspension. I would like to see him get more targets on the perimeter, due to him being a pure receiver rather than a H-back.
  • The perimeter blocking took a step back when Noah Brown got put on the shelf for the season but they took a step forward against Western Michigan. Although the majority of them are undersized, stalk blocking is an effort thing. It will get to where it needs to be.

Tight ends

  • Nick Vannett had a big false start inside the 10-yard line. His penalty pushed the offense outside the 10-yard line on a goal-to-go situation. He added another false start later in the game.
  • Vannett has struggled as a blocker this season, which has opened up more snaps for Marcus Baugh as the lone tight end.
  • Baugh was graded out as a champion this week and here he was blowing the edge defender 5-yards off the line of scrimmage, opening up a running lane for Elliott. It looks like Baugh is starting to put it all together.

Offensive line

  • I thought the offensive line did a better job in the run game on Saturday. They created rushing lanes for Elliott and allowed him to get to the second level.
  • They did not do well in pass protection though, as they let up seven pressures, four hits and a sack with Jones at quarterback. Way too many pressures against a poor defensive front seven.
  • Meyer mentioned that Indiana runs a base 3-4 defense but showed some 4-3 the past few weeks. They need a good week of film and coaching to execute against a scrappy Hoosier squad.

Defensive Tidbits

  • Tyvis Powell showed up early, making a special teams impact by blocking a field goal attempt.
  • The team survived a huge scare, when Darron Lee got carted off with a lower leg injury. Luckily, he was not severely injured and he came back to the sideline. That would have been a monumental loss.
  • This was the first time this year that the defense let up chunk plays. I talked about Daniel Braverman in my preview and he impressed, catching 10 balls for 123 yards and a touchdown. Braverman excels in the slot and I thought that although the secondary had been solid, the nicklebacks had been untested until Saturday.
  • Adolphus Washington continues to terrorize opposing offenses. He was disruptive all day and added an interception in which he returned for a touchdown. Washington has turned himself into a day one or day two NFL Draft lock.
  • The special teams was excellent from start-to-finish. A blocked field goal, what should have been a blocked punt if not for an awful holding call by the official and Cameron Johnston pinned the opponent deep numerous times. That penalty call on the blocked punt cost the Buckeyes seven points and a 31-7 halftime lead.
  • The guys at CFB Film Room do a great job charting every play. They charted Raekwon McMillan with 16 tackles, three quarterback pressures and a sack. In the past two games, McMillan leads the team with eight quarterback pressures. As a true sophomore, he is already a prototype three-down linebacker.