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Ohio State’s offense will look to establish the deep ball against Oklahoma

The Buckeyes passing game needs some work.

J.T. Barrett
Andy Lyons

You know that thing you do when you throw the ball really far and someone else catches it?

Yeah, Ohio State needs to work on that.

In all seriousness, the talk of the offseason in Columbus centered around how much better the Buckeyes would be in 2017 through the air. Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day fixed J.T. Barrett, the receivers were ready, and the putrid offensive line from a year ago was no more.

And then last Thursday night happened.

Barrett threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, leading OSU to a 49-21 win over Indiana. Those numbers look great on paper, but don’t reflect how the Buckeyes fared passing the ball.

No. 16 didn’t complete a pass that traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. And not one of Barrett’s deep strikes resulted in a big reception.

Although the offense was locked in for the second half and put up 36 points, they just weren’t able to establish a downfield presence, which clearly frustrated Urban Meyer.

"I think obviously we make such an emphasis on the deep ball that it’s somewhat disappointing that we didn’t hit a couple of them," Meyer said.

Barrett and Co. did have a few chances to connect on the long ball. A pass sailed on Barrett in the third quarter when he had Marcus Baugh open in the end zone. And Parris Campbell – who made up for it later – dropped what would’ve been a 41-yard touchdown catch.

"Wide receivers, I thought, played their tails off," Meyer said. "We’ll get better on the deep ball. Everything else was outstanding. I just wish we would have hit a couple deep ones. But we’ve seen them do it in practice, so we’re excited about what we have at receiver."

Meyer has reason to be excited because there were way more positives to point to about their passing attack than negatives.

Barrett was aggressive, confident in the pocket, and continued to try and push the ball down the field. OSU’s receiving corps actually played like a cohesive unit and gave fans more to look forward to this season. The intermediate throws were definitely there and saw Campbell race past Indiana defenders for a 74-yard touchdown and Johnnie Dixon turn in a 59-yard touchdown.

And anytime your offense racks up 596 yards and outscores the opponent by four touchdowns, something had to have went right.

Going forward, the Buckeyes obviously need to improve their deep ball if they expect to beat the Penn States and Michigans of the world. No one wants to see that improvement more than Meyer, a good sign for OSU.

Oklahoma will be another legit test for Barrett and Zone Six. The Sooners have a solid secondary that returns shutdown cornerback Jordan Thomas and safety Steven Parker. There should be quite a few opportunities for the Buckeyes to shoot their shot considering Oklahoma finished 111th in the nation in pass defense last season.

The Scarlet and Gray are built to win a championship, but they can’t do it without opening up their passing game first.