The Ohio State offense — which at times was guided by two quarterbacks, redshirt junior Cardale Jones and redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett — looked completely different than the group that was in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Labor Day night. Despite the struggles, the Buckeyes soundily defeated Hawaii, 38-0.
The Scarlet and Gray’s offense looked out of sync throughout the game, as the Buckeyes finished with 363 total yards — 209 fewer than they had against the Hokies.
Jones started the game for the second straight week, and even though he engineered a touchdown drive on their second possession, his performance — along with the entire offensive unit — was still shaky early on.
Jones mishandled a snap on two of the Buckeyes first three drives. The offensive line also had two critical penalties in those drives, one of which negated a 20-yard completion from Jones to redshirt senior wide receiver Corey Smith.
“I think the play of the offense was below average. And that’s a reflection of me,” Jones said.
It looked like the unit was starting to turn the corner on their fourth drive after a 24-yard completion from Jones to redshirt sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall got the Buckeyes into Hawaii territory, but a false start penalty followed by a sack of Jones for a loss of 11 yards killed that momentum.
That stalled drive prompted coach Urban Meyer to make a switch at the quarterback position.
“The way my mindset is: ‘Who is going to help us right at that moment?’” Meyer said after the game when asked for insight on the decision to bench Jones.
Barrett looked strong out of the gate, leading the Buckeyes on a nine-play, 35-yard drive for a score. But after that, it was downhill for the Wichita Falls, Texas, native.
He struggled with his accuracy and decision making on the ensuing two possessions.
Barrett entered the locker room at halftime just 5-of-12 for 41 yards.
When the Scarlet and Gray took the field in the second half, Jones was handed back the reins to the offense.
He remained the Buckeyes’ quarterback until the game was out of reach, then Barrett and redshirt freshman Stephen Collier took over the duties. None of the quarterbacks had a passing touchdown, which ended OSU’s 24-game streak with a score through the air.
Although OSU pulled away in the second half, the scoreboard did not mean the team was happy with its offensive output.
“I know we won but our defense shut them out. Thank God for our defense today. It’s probably best we hit this pothole early in the season,” Jones said. “It was a reality check for not just me but for the whole offense. We’re not where we thought we were.”
The OSU defense had a strong showing, as they intercepted redshirt senior Hawaii quarterback Max Wittek twice. Junior safety Vonn Bell also returned a Rainbow Warrior fumble for a touchdown.
Sophomore cornerback Gareon Conley, who had the first of the two OSU interceptions, said that although the defense does not feel pressure to pick up the offense when it struggles, they are aware that their performance can help.
“I don’t feel pressure, I just know that we can do stuff to lift up the offense,” Conley said. “When we go out there and make plays, we know the offense feeds off that, so it’s just a team thing. We feed off each other.”
OSU is set to look to improve its offensive output when it hosts Northern Illinois on Sept. 19. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.