Halfway through the season, the Buckeyes are already bowl eligible (6-0, 2-0). As the team gets ready for the stretch run, here are the grades for each offensive unit through six games.
It’s hard to argue against giving the Buckeyes a good grade at quarterback after six games when one of them is breaking Ohio State football records. Redshirt-senior Kenny Guiton wrote his name in the record book on two separate occasions, tossing six touchdown passes against Florida A&M Sept. 21 in addition to a 90-yard scoring strike to junior wide receiver Devin Smith at California Sept. 14. His play, coupled with junior Braxton Miller (when healthy) has been impressive at times but not consistent enough for an OSU team that is hoping to win a national championship. Up to this point, Guition has been the better player, throwing at least one touchdown in each of the four games in which he’s played, including 10 total against Cal and FAMU, but Miller’s play has been disappointing. After his return from an MCL sprain he suffered against San Diego State Sept. 7, Miller had a big game against Wisconsin but struggled on the road against Northwestern. If the Buckeyes want to challenge teams like Alabama or Oregon for the crown, they will need to see more of the Miller who played against Wisconsin than the one who showed up in Evanston, Ill.
Running backs: A
So far this season, OSU is No. 11 in the nation in rushing, and has four running backs with more than 100 yards. It seems that no matter who is lined up behind Miller or Guiton, the Buckeyes are going to rack up yards on the ground. To start the season, it was redshirt-senior Jordan Hall, who through three games rushed for 402 yards and six touchdowns, and now it is senior Carlos Hyde, taking over the role as the feature back for OSU. Since returning from a three-game suspension stemming from an incident at a Columbus bar in July, Hyde has led the team in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. His performance against Northwestern carried the Buckeyes to the victory, as he ran the ball 26 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns. Even with freshmen Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson, both averaging more than nine yards a carry, the Buckeyes are succeeding in moving the ball on the ground.
Wide receivers and tight ends: B
To quote former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, the Buckeye wide receivers “are who we thought they were.” With the exception of redshirt-senior Chris Fields’ opportune four touchdowns on just seven catches, there have been little surprises from the OSU receiving corps. Junior Devin Smith has been a vertical threat, senior Corey “Philly” Brown has been good but inconsistent and junior Evan Spencer has recorded at least a catch in every game, but hasn’t had a big week yet. Although they have been serviceable enough up to this point to help OSU achieve its undefeated record so far, someone needs to take that next step up to help the quarterbacks. Junior Jeff Heuerman has been a surprise as a receiver at the tight end position, ranking fifth on the team in receptions and yards but can’t be counted on to produce on a week-to-week basis.
Offensive line: A
The Buckeyes sport a veteran starting offensive line this season, and it has shown so far through six games. Although the running backs have a lot to do with the Buckeyes averaging more than 268 yards per game on the ground, the big uglies are a playing a huge part of getting the run game going. Opposing defenses only have 28 tackles for loss and eight sacks against redshirt-senior center Corey Linsley and company. If the Buckeyes can continue to win the battle in the trenches, their offense should keep clicking as they continue their quest to an undefeated season and a potential trip to Pasadena, Calif. for the National Championship game.