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Football: Offensive woes a one-time occurrence

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OSU redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) looks downfield during a rush during the first half against Indiana on Oct. 8. The Buckeye's won 38-17. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

OSU redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) looks downfield during a rush during the first half against Indiana on Oct. 8. The Buckeye’s won 38-17. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

The No. 2 Ohio State football team got back to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Sunday to evaluate its performance in the 38-17 win against Indiana. Coach Urban Meyer said after Saturday’s game that the lack of production in the passing game was “alarming.” Meyer’s consensus after watching film was a little more reserved.

“There were a couple mis-hits that usually hit (deep passes), or when we do hit we’re dominating. If we don’t hit, we have to work a little harder,” Meyer said. “‘Alarming’ is probably a little over-reactive, but we’ve just got to get to practice and get it better.”

On the surface, a 21-point victory is something to celebrate, but redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett said after the game that he knows he and the team can play better. Barrett threw for just 93 yards on 9-for-21 passing with one touchdown and one interception. The dismal offensive performance yielded just 383 total yards, OSU’s lowest of the season.

At some point this season, OSU was going to have to come down to Earth. The numbers the offense was putting up before its modest performance on Saturday were almost unbelievable, given what the team had lost the prior year. Barrett said that this past week’s humbling affair might be a good thing in the end.

“Being we had our struggles in that game … definitely it lets us reflect and fix the mistakes we had,” he said.

Through four games, the 2016 Buckeyes’ offense registered 57 points per game, but had its fair share of vulnerable moments. Indiana marked the third game out of five where OSU had a first-quarter turnover and its first game where the offense didn’t appear as a cohesive unit.

“I think on offense … there were times where we had everyone on the same page and that’s when we had the more successful plays,” Barrett said. “We were in good plays lots of times and whether it be me messing up on an assignment or a read, or a receiver messing up or O-line messing up, we weren’t clicking on all cylinders on all units, so often times that was the problem.”

Commonly referred to as “the lab,” the film room serves as the Buckeyes’ best friend after a week of stagnation from the side of the football that Meyer has revolutionized since his arrival in Columbus. Not only will OSU evaluate and attempt to correct the mistakes it made against the Hoosiers, the offense transitions into the toughest defense it has seen thus far.

The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers will be the best team the Buckeyes have faced so far this season. Its defense ranks among the elite in several categories. The Badgers allow just 12.2 points, 291.4 total yards and 90.4 rushing yards per game, the last being first in the Big Ten and sixth in the country. Their red zone defense has allowed team’s to score inside the 20 just 55 percent of the time, second in the country.

“On defense, they’re outstanding. They’re what they’ve been,” Meyer said. “It’s amazing that they’ve had coach transition. They’ve changed defensive coordinators and it’s a very similar defense. It’s Wisconsin’s defense.”

Redshirt senior center Pat Elflein and his offensive line will be going against a perennial pass rushing defense, which also prides itself on stopping the run. Elflein said that he is not worried about Barrett or any of the other units on the offense having another disappointing performance against Wisconsin.

“That’s our motto here, and that’s what we always do is ‘Just do your job,’” Elflein said. “I’m worried about my job and secondly the five guys around me, them doing their job. I know J.T. is going to do his job and if we do our job, that give J.T. an opportunity to do his job, which he does very well.”

For Meyer, his trust in his quarterback is unwavering.

“J.T. is fine. J.T. is going to play well,” he said.

The Buckeyes play Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

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