The Ohio State offense did not perform up to par in Saturday’s 31-24 double-overtime win over Penn State, and the stat book shows it.
After four straight weeks of posting 50 or more points, the Buckeyes scored just 17 points in regulation against the Nittany Lions, something sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott said is disappointing.
“(We were) very below average. We could have played a lot better. We maybe took a step back from the couple weeks we had before,” he said Monday.
Elliott ran for 109 yards on 26 carries and a score in the OSU win.
Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein echoed Elliott’s comments, adding the Buckeyes must improve.
“We didn’t play like we should have. They were throwing a lot of stuff at us,” Elflein said. “It was hard to communicate, but definitely we didn’t play like we should have and we need to get better.”
Elflein added that the performance against Penn State was unsatisfying.
“We know we can run the ball. We know we can execute well on the offensive line,” Elflein said. “It’s just a matter of going out and doing it. It was kind of frustrating all game, knowing how well we can play and we weren’t doing it.”
Heading into a matchup with Illinois on Saturday, OSU coach Urban Meyer said there is one area where the offense remains inconsistent.
“Concern is the offensive line. We just faced a very good defensive line at Penn State and we didn’t play very well,” Meyer said. “It (the offensive line) has made great strides, but the standard was set the last two years with the offensive line play at Ohio State and we are not there.”
The core of the offensive line the last two years included three players currently on NFL rosters — Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley and Andrew Norwell — who all started last week for their respective teams.
The combination of Mewhort, Linsley and Norwell started each game in the 2012 and 2013 with the exeception of the Michigan game (Mewhort did not start) seasons, driving the Buckeyes to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons.
Elflein said despite the struggles against Penn State, the standard set by the departed core group still remains. That standard however, is not always as strict as some may think.
“Our room is awesome. I love it. Especially last year. Those guys started the culture,” Elflein said Monday. “Norwell, Corey and Jack (are) just really goofy. We have our own terms and lingo.”
One of those terms, while not necessarily flattering, is something Elflein said still remains.
“We’re the slobs, everyone on the team calls us the slobs. Norwell is king slob. He is the one who made that up last year,” Elflein said. “It’s fun to play with that, because it can get stressful around here sometimes.
“It’s an awesome culture, I love going there (the offensive line room) every day.”
While Mewhort now plays with the Indianapolis Colts, Linsley with the Green Bay Packers and Norwell with the Carolina Panthers, Elflein said he remains in contact with the former Buckeyes.
“I stay in touch with all those guys, that’s a big part of all of our lives in the O-line room was that culture that was set last year,” Elflein said.
Elflein added that Linsley is planning on being in Columbus on Saturday for OSU’s game against Illinois, which is set to kickoff at 8 p.m. at Ohio Stadium, as the Green Bay Packers are on a bye this week.