There are just 18 days until TTUN comes to the Horseshoe. In the meantime, the Buckeyes will play Indiana and Maryland, two games they really shouldn’t have any trouble winning. Therefore, it is crucial in these two weeks that they clean up the problems they’ve been having. There are a couple parts of the offensive game plan in particular that I believe need to be changed.
1. Incorporation of ALL the receivers
The Buckeyes have experienced the most trouble on offense they have had all year the past couple of weeks. Between Penn State keeping them on their toes and Northwestern’s 200 mph winds, Ohio State’s offense has been different than what we usually see. Obviously the passing game wasn’t effective this past Saturday due to weather, but what about against the Nittany Lions?
When in doubt, C.J. Stroud will pass the ball to his go-to-guy, Marvin Harrison Jr., the majority of the time. Is there a problem with this? I mean, Marv will 99.9% of the time make an amazing catch for positive yardage. However, opposing team’s defenses can figure this out. Therefore, I think Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming need to have some more targets in the next couple of weeks.
For example, against Michigan State, Marv had 131 yards, Egbuka had 143 and Fleming had 81 — and the Buckeyes put up 49 points (granted, against a bad MSU team). However, against Penn State, Marv had 185 yards, Egbuka had 53 and Fleming had 27. I think everyone knows what a struggle that game was offensively. Yes, it still worked out in the end, but I believe that the Buckeyes are a much bigger threat when they use ALL of their talent on offense.
2. Cade Stover needs to play like Cade Stover
Everyone’s favorite tight end has been on the struggle bus for the past couple of weeks. He has had an amazing season all year, racking up 321 yards on 26 receptions and scoring three touchdowns. However, over the past few games, he hasn’t looked like himself.
Against Penn State, he had 78 yards on six catches. This is great! However, there were a couple elements of his game that were concerning here. The first being the two crucial penalties he caused. He had two false starts, one coming when the Buckeyes were going for a two-point conversion after they scored a touchdown to put them up 22-21. Albeit, the crowd noise was definitely a factor, but a penalty cannot happen at a time that pivotal.
The other part of his game I noticed was lacking against Penn State was his blocking. There were multiple occasions where he totally missed blocking his defender, so the play didn’t work. This happened often on the bubble screens that everyone was talking about, but if Stover made his blocks, the plays actually might’ve worked. So, if he can get his blocking under control and continue making athletic plays with the ball, the Buckeyes will be in good shape.