In the first two games for the Ohio State football team, the offensive attack from coach Urban Meyer’s squad has been a night and day difference. After producing 776 yards against Bowling Green, the Buckeyes were only able to crank out 402 total yards against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, many of which came after an hour-long weather delay.
Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett scored at will in Week 1, putting seven total touchdowns on the board while completing just under 68 percent of his passes and picking up 349 yards. Against Tulsa, the story was very different. Barrett only picked up 149 yards and failed to find the endzone through the air.
Defense was the biggest component of the Buckeyes scoring, picking up two scores and providing the offense with a short field on multiple occasions. On offense, the scoring came from the ground, with Barrett picking up two touchdowns and redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber and senior H-back Dontre Wilson each crossing the goal line.
In each of the first two weeks, Meyer has graded out three champions on the offensive line — redshirt senior center Pat Elflein twice and redshirt junior guard Billy Price against Tulsa. The rest of the unit has failed to gain this recognition, and the lack of experience of the new starters has been apparent to fans, as well as their coach.
“I’m concerned about everything. I have a lot of confidence we are getting better and better each day, and that’s growing pains with five guys that have to work together,” Meyer said. “So, yeah, a little bit concerned. But I think we’re further ahead than I thought we would be at this point.”
So far this year, the Buckeyes have allowed just one sack through two games, provided by Tulsa junior defensive end Jeremy Smith in the second quarter of last Saturday’s game. Oklahoma, OSU’s next opponent, has picked up four sacks in two games.
The position change of former guard-turned-center Elflein, and the introduction of three new starters along the offensive front have caused some of the worry for Meyer. Against Tulsa, the Buckeyes were able to gain only 268 yards rushing, which might seem to be an impressive total. However, OSU could only muster 89 yards rushing in the first half.
Elflein said the young offensive linemen are working this week to right the wrongs of the first half against the Golden Hurricane.
“I’m not worried by any means. We are getting better. We had a lot of stuff thrown at us last week,” Elflein said. “I think it was good to get some experience with that stuff. I’m sure, at Oklahoma, we’ll see that too.”
Elflein went on to say the offensive line is still a work in progress. Much like the offensive line, the wide receivers are still trying to grow and produce at a higher level.
Wide receivers struggled last Saturday, which resulted in a poor pass attack against the Golden Hurricane. In all, the wide receivers have been targeted 20 times this year, while the combination of H-backs, running backs and tight ends have been thrown to 32 times.
Although the Buckeye coaching staff expected some struggles from the unit with the loss of three of its top receivers to the NFL, there has been a distinct lack of production from the pass catchers. The leading receiver, redshirt sophomore Noah Brown, has only four receptions for 64 yards and one touchdown.
The two leading pass catchers have been junior Curtis Samuel and senior Dontre Wilson, both H-backs.
Even with the struggles against Tulsa, Barrett said the team can have a much better performance against Oklahoma by focusing on the task at hand and arriving at the game better prepared than the team was last week.
“In high school, you know, I had lucky socks. I thought that was the key to my success. Wearing my socks,” Barrett said. “As far as now, understanding Coach Meyer’s approach, it just makes a lot of sense now that it doesn’t matter what socks you wear or if you’ve got lucky drawers or anything like that. That doesn’t matter. It’s that you’re prepared. And I think that’s the main thing.”