A good first half of the season for Ohio State, but there are still a few things to clean up if the Buckeyes are to contend for a national championship.
While discussing the potential of a “Game of the Century Part II,” the Big Ten Football Championship and making it back to the College Football Playoff is appealing, it is way too premature. Ohio State has a few areas to improve in before that will happen.
Ohio State’s second significant road win has the team in position for a special season, but getting to November 26 unscathed won’t be easy as the schedule still has a few potential landmines.
Beating Penn State on the road is rarely easy, no matter how good or bad the Nittany Lions are playing. Nebraska hasn’t played a difficult schedule, but it is still undefeated and ranked No. 8. Northwestern is playing up to its potential now and will come into the Horseshoe the following week ready for a fight.
The good news is these games give coach Urban Meyer the chance to work out the kinks from the first half of the season.
Here are the top six areas to improve heading into the November run:
First Drive of the Game
Here are the outcomes of every first drive so far this season. Interception, field goal, punt, interception, fumble, punt. Yikes.
I still think Kerry Coombs needs to give the offense its pre-game speech. J.T. Barrett’s calm approach is definitely needed, but a little fire coming out of the locker room would be refreshing.
Will someone please emerge as the threat to stretch the field? Parris Campbell, James Clark, Terry McLaurin. Maybe even Malik Hooker.
We already know Hooker can catch the ball. Give him a shot. He could be a duel threat like Chris Gamble.
The team ranks No. 101 in the FBS in penalty yards at 65.83 per game. Dropping it down to 40 or less is ideal.
It’s not a dire concern against inferior teams, but beating the teams that matter will require more discipline.
Eliminating Direct Snaps to anyone other than J.T.
Getting the ball into Curtis Samuel’s hands is the top priority for this offense, but it should not be on a direct snap. The whole world knows what is going to happen and it rarely works.
Barrett’s the quarterback. Let him handle the snaps and ball distribution.
No doubt the lack of a deep threat is causing defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage, but that does not mean most attempts have to be 10-plus yards. This offense should be able to complete a five-yard pass on almost any play.
Take the five yards. Even modest gains will force the defense to play back.
Besides, the Ohio State receivers block so well a three-to-five-yard pass will turn into a 15-yard gain on several plays anyway.