Grading the Buckeyes: Disappointing says it all


A grade card on Ohio State’s 31-16 loss to Oklahoma. It wasn’t good and it could have been worse.

Offense: D+

The numbers are always attached only to J.T. Barrett’s name, but maybe a better way to express the ongoing disappointing performance of Ohio State’s offense is to say its passing game has produced fewer than 200 yards in four of its last five games and no passing touchdowns in three of those games.

It was more of the same on Saturday night. Barrett’s accuracy and touch on his throws was questionable at times. Receivers didn’t get open. There was another bad drop, this one by Terry McLaurin, on what probably should have been a long touchdown play. Barrett was under pressure much of the night and he ended up running the ball 18 times.

Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (72 yards on 13 carries) was impressive again, but he got the ball for less than half of the 29 carries he got in the opener against Indiana when he rushed for 181 yards.

The makeover of Ohio State’s offense many people expected with the hiring of Kevin Wilson as offensive coordinator and Ryan Day as quarterbacks coach has not materialized yet.

Defense: C-

Ohio State’s defense should be grateful the offense’s underperformance has distracted from the fact it has done some significant underperforming of its own.

Replacing three NFL-caliber defensive backs and middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan has not been as easy as some people expected and OSU has allowed an average of 403 yards a game passing so far this season. Also, it ranks ninth in the Big Ten in scoring defense.

Defensive end Sam Hubbard (6 tackles, 2 tackles for losses and a sack) was one of the few bright spots defensively against Oklahoma.

The Sooners’ quarterback Baker Mayfield (386 yards passing, 3 TDs) was exceptional at avoiding pressure from OSU’s highly regarded defensive line except for two sacks. And his receivers were often so open that it almost looked like Ohio State was playing nine against 11.

Special Teams: A

There was nothing to complain about with any phase of the special teams.

Kicker Sean Nuernberger was three for three on field goals. Redshirt freshman punter Drue Chrisman averaged 45.8 yards per punt and looks like a worthy successor to Cameron Johnston. Parris Campbell returned a kickoff 56 yards to set up Ohio State’s only touchdown and Oklahoma’s return game was held in check by the Buckeyes’ return defenders.

Overall: C-

It could have been worse. Oklahoma lost two fumbles in the first half, including one at Ohio State’s 6-yard line, missed a short field goal and Mayfield made a questionable throw for an incompletion on a fourth down play at OSU’s 36-yardline on the first series of the game.

Despite those problems, Oklahoma was probably a little better than advertised and Ohio State probably was a little overrated at No. 2. OSU coach Urban Meyer says his team’s offensive struggles will be fixed and that benching Barrett is not part of that solution.

With Army, UNLV and Rutgers next on the schedule, that promise might not be really tested until October when Ohio State plays Maryland, Nebraska and Penn State.

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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was not happy with the way his team played in the loss to Oklahoma Saturday.
http://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/09/web1_JDG_6815a_-Urban.jpgOhio State coach Urban Meyer was not happy with the way his team played in the loss to Oklahoma Saturday. Jay Gehres | Gehres Photography

Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.