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Ohio State’s passing game took a step back against Indiana

J.T. Barrett and his receivers had a tough day.

Indiana v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

If there is one common denominator with every loss of the Urban Meyer era, it would be the abundance of designed quarterback runs and scrambles. Whether it were the two losses in 2013 against Michigan State and Clemson, the 2014 loss at Virginia Tech or the 2015 loss against Michigan State, the most common number on the quarterback chart below would be the amount of times that the quarterback runs the ball. Good things usually happen to an Urban Meyer-led Buckeye team when there is balance on offense, meaning their designed runs stay below double digits and the scrambles stay below four-or-five — based on the average number of plays that they run.

If you did not know the score and only read J.T. Barrett’s chart below, you would think they lost the game. The passing game was as bad as it’s ever been, but the Buckeyes beat Indiana with talent, their defense and a running game that racked up 290 yards on 50 carries. If Barrett’s chart looks like this next week against Wisconsin, or in the future against Nebraska or Michigan, they’ll get knocked off.

Here it is:

J.T. Barrett

Designed runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions Total TD Scrambles Overthrow Throwaway
22 24 9 11 2 2 2 2
Pressured Sacked Hit Pass break-up Batted at LOS Drops Turnovers Defensive PI
6 2 2 4 2 1 2 0
  • Without going back through every game of the past four seasons, the 22 designed runs are definitely the highest of Barrett’s career and probably the highest total number of designed runs that have been called since Meyer has been at Ohio State.
  • What makes this a little different from the past four losses, is that the play calls against Indiana were mostly zone read, and Barrett was just taking what the defense gave him. Even though he made good read after good read, it’s on the play callers to keep his hits down, especially with the schedule toughening up in the near future.

Here’s a good example:

Barrett sees the end crashing down on Mike Weber and uses his patience to hold the ball at the mesh point, forcing the end to completely commit to Weber.

Barrett pulls the ball at the last second and creases the Hoosier defense. The blocking is set up perfectly and the quarterback rushes for 27-yards on the play — his season long rush. This was one example of many that showed that Barrett took what the defense gave him throughout the day.

  • If we rewind to the Oklahoma game, the variety of play calling is what made the offense run on all cylinders. The offense came out throwing the ball short and intermediately — taking advantage of Oklahoma’s secondary — and getting Barrett into a rhythm throwing the ball. Against Indiana, they ran the ball four straight plays before going deep to Curtis Samuel. It was a good play call — as Samuel had about three steps on the defensive back — but Barrett massively underthrew the ball, which looked like it shook his confidence.

This play needed to be 6 points.

  • From there on out, Barrett dropped back a total of 24 times and only completed nine of 21 pass attempts. The passing game as a whole just was not on the same page on the afternoon and it never got going.
  • The four pass break-ups was also a tied a career high for Barrett, which is due to the lack of separation from the receivers and sometimes inaccurate throws from the quarterback.
  • The offensive line has been unbelievable this year, but they let up a season-high six pressures and a season-high two sacks. Also, a season-high two balls were batted at the line of scrimmage.
  • Although the offense did not look as explosive or diverse as it did against Bowling Green, Oklahoma or Rutgers, I think this performance was more of an outlier than a commonality. Fans should expect a crisp passing game, mixed with a solid running game against Wisconsin. But, if you see a similar chart to the one above, expect the Buckeyes to come home with their first loss.

Skill Positions

  • As mentioned above, not only was Barrett out of sync, but the wideouts — which had been an asset this season -- just could not separate from the Hoosier defensive backs. This will need to improve against a very good Wisconsin defense that held LSU to 14 points, Michigan State to 6 points and Michigan to 14 points. The receivers have been the key to success this season.
  • The lack of touches for Curtis Samuel were inexcusable. The Buckeyes ran 18 plays before Samuel touched the ball for the first time and then another four plays before he was the main ball carrier on a series. Good things happen when he touches the ball, folks.

The "Curtis Samuel drive" looked like this:

  1. Samuel 12-yard rush
  2. Samuel 7-yard rush
  3. Samuel 22-yard rush
  4. Barrett 27-yard rush
  5. Samuel 5-yard rush for a touchdown
  • Mike Weber continued to be solid with the ball in his hands. He was the focal point of the Indiana defense, which is why Barrett ran the ball 24 times on the day. The defense constantly crashed down on Weber and when he was given the chance, he produced.
  • Barrett’s lone interception came off a ball that bounced right off Marcus Baugh’s hands. Baugh typically has soft hands, but he could not hold onto this one, which resulted in an interception. Luckily, the defense bailed out the tight end.
  • The game-changing play of the game came by way of a kick return from Parris Campbell. Indiana cut the Buckeye lead to 17-10 with 1:03 left in the first half and were due to receive the ball after the half. If Campbell did not return the ball into Indiana’s side of the field, they most likely would have knelt the ball and it could have led to a completely different outcome (Indiana scored after halftime). Campbell took the ball from the 3-yard line and followed Johnnie Dixon through a perfectly set-up kick return down to the Indiana 6-yard line. A few plays later, Barrett ran it in to extend the lead to 14 points. Huge play by Campbell.