"Of course, that's on me. You just have to go back and watch, every underthrown ball, the receiver had the guy beat by so many yards. Those are easy layups, and when Coach Meyer pulled me over on the sideline, he was saying that's our strength, that's what helped us get to this point. I've got to complete them."
- Cardale Jones via Austin Ward, ESPN
With Cardale Jones securing his spot as the lone starting quarterback for Ohio State, the Buckeyes look to unleash Jones' arms on opposing defenses without the risk of being pulled in favor of J.T. Barrett. Fans have been clamoring for a couple of weeks (no matter which QB they were rooting for) to stick with a starter for better or for worse. The inconsistency to this point might have partly been due to looking over their shoulders in fear of being pulled. Now, Jones has the go-ahead to let it fly.
And while letting it fly didn't exactly go as planned against Western Michigan (several underthrown deep passes that would have ended in touchdowns for the Buckeyes), it's clear that Ohio State is fully prepared to stick to their guns in the air. If Jones can fix his underthrown passes, which he has the arm to do, then the offense might start looking like it did towards the end of last season. As Meyer mentions, Ohio State has capable athletes at wide receiver to stretch the field, and last Saturday proved as much. Now it's just time to execute.
"I felt like any special teams that they needed me on, punt, kickoff, return, I was going to be willing to help the team in any way that I can. I found that through the first four games that I have been trying to make just the biggest impact that I can going down making tackles and making a block to spring the returners, any way that I can just to help this team out. I am all for that."
- Terry McLaurin via Kevin Noon, BuckeyeGrove.com
Terry McLaurin is already making the field despite being a redshirt freshman wide receiver for the Buckeyes. Though it may not be at wideout as much as he'd like, McLaurin isn't complaining in the slightest. The versatile athlete is making his mark on special teams - one of the best proven ways to earn playing time at your preferred position. For example, take a look at Corey Smith. Before last Saturday, Smith hadn't seen much of the field. Once he made some excellent plays on special teams, the Buckeyes looked to get the ball in his hands on offense more than they had in the previous two games.
McLaurin is gladly accepting his role on this undefeated Ohio State team and is just happy to be a part of it. He also knows his time will come, as his playmaking ability will not go unnoticed by the coaching staff both on the field during games and in practice. Going against Indiana, McLaurin would love to catch a touchdown against his home state school, and if he puts in the dirty work, the coaching staff might just look his way.
"It's frustrating because everybody assumes that after seven months you just pick up where you left off, and that isn't the case. There's new pieces on the coaching staff, new pieces on the offense, so things change. You're never the same, and you have to earn your way and develop a team."
- Ed Warinner via Doug Lesmerises, Northeast Ohio Media Group
The offensive powerhouse last season has been reduced to a struggling team with an abundance of talent. and it has everyone all up in arms over the past couple of weeks. With lackluster performances against Hawaii and Northern Illinois, the offense seemed to finally start shaking off some of the rust against Western Michigan. Still, the offense wasn't without faults, but offensive coordinator Ed Warriner is quick to point out that just because the team returns a lot of their starters doesn't mean it's going to pick up where the offense left off last season.
With a couple of new faces in place of the players that graduated, Ohio State is slowly but surely getting things back on track. A conference game against Indiana will provide another challenge as the Hoosiers have played the Buckeyes tough the past couple of seasons. With Cardale Jones finally solidified as the starter, there's no better time than now to get the offense alive and kicking once again.
"Two such teams are the Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten. Both are in the Big Ten East, but which of the two are more likely to be in the conference championship game?"
- Gordon McGuinness, Pro Football Focus
Ohio State and Michigan State are the top two teams in the nation and the Big Ten. And only one of those teams will have the chance to make it to the Big Ten Championship game, provided they end up unbeaten when they face off on Nov. 21. Led by senior quarterback Connor Cook, the Spartans have been one of the most impressive and consistent teams in college football this season, while the Buckeyes haven't always been at the top of their game. But still, the two seem to be on track for a major collision in late November when the two Big Ten East teams meet.
The game will be played in Columbus, as Ohio State hosts Michigan State. The past couple of seasons, this matchup has determined the Big Ten champions. Michigan State took down then undefeated Ohio State in the championship game to win the title, while the Buckeyes got their revenge last season in East Lansing en route to a blowout win over Wisconsin in the championship game. If the two titans are undefeated by Nov. 21, it likely means fans will be treated to a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup.
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