When Ohio State fans saw the East Lansing weather report for Saturday afternoon, they knew the offense would take a big step back from the prior two 62-point performances. After throwing the ball a combined 65 times against Nebraska and Maryland, Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed only 10 of 22 passes for 86 yards against Michigan State.
With the wind howling and the precipitation falling from the sky, it turned the offense one-dimensional, which allowed Mark Dantonio’s defense to stack the box and focus on stopping Barrett and Mike Weber in the run game. It resulted in only 17 points for the Buckeyes.
For as bad as the box score looked, fans should not expect the offense to curl up into it’s shell against Michigan. Even though Barrett only attempted 22 passes and looked inaccurate at times, it was not overly conservative.
J.T. Barrett Passing Chart vs Michigan State
|Designed runs||Dropbacks||Completions||Incompletions||Total TD||Scrambles||Overthrows||Throwaway|
|Pressured||Sacked||Hit||Pass break-up||Batted||Drops||Turnovers||Defensive PI|
The offensive line has been the story the past two weeks, but they weren’t asked to do much in pass protection on Saturday. They allowed eight pressures on 25 dropbacks — which isn’t ideal — and three sacks. After bouncing back since the Penn State disaster, right tackle Isaiah Prince had another rough game, allowing two of those three sacks.
Since allowing 26 pressures and six sacks against the Nittany Lions, the offensive line has allowed only 22 pressures and five sacks in the following four games. Michigan’s front seven will be their greatest test of the season and 'The Slobs’ seem to be hitting their stride at the appropriate time.
With the weather being very Big Ten, everyone knew we would be getting a ton of Barrett in the run game — and we did. Barrett’s name was called 21 times to run the ball and he responded pretty well, gaining positive yardage throughout the afternoon. Even though the number was the highest of the season, the designed runs were not as forced as we’ve become accustomed to and they were in the flow of the offense. If the wind holds up on Saturday, expect this number to fall in between the 13-16 mark, which should result in a victory.
One major question mark that Barrett will have to improve — and improve fast — will be his accuracy. Not only has the quarterback had trouble completing the deep ball to open receivers, but it has now leaked into the short to intermediate game. Barrett threw one of the worst passes of the season, missing a wide-open Samuel in the flat by a couple of yards. It almost looked like a 2-2 breaking ball thrown in the dirt. Even though the passing game wasn’t great, Michigan State’s was even worse. Let’s chalk this up to the weather and we’ll reevaluate it after ‘The Game’, when they face the stingiest secondary in the conference.
Play action will always be key for the Ohio State passing offense, and they connected on another big play to Samuel in the seam. When they’re able to run the ball effectively, the safeties begin to bite on the run fake, leaving the middle of the field open. One thing that was also notable during the game, was the amount of times Barrett took a step forward, basically running a designed quarterback play action and then dropping back to pass. It was a nice wrinkle to the passing game.
On this touchdown toss to Samuel, Barrett faked the handoff to Weber, which sucked in the safety — leaving the middle of the field open — and stopping the feet of the defender covering Samuel in the seam.
Because the defender stopped his feet, he allowed Samuel to gain inside leverage. With the safety (No. 9) sucked in, there was a hole in the middle of the defense.
Samuel used his speed and Barrett lofted a perfectly placed ball for six — due to play action.