Buckeye offense rights ship in battle with Maryland
Final: No. 1 Ohio State 49, Maryland 28
Key play: Cardale Jones hits Jalin Marshall for 48-yard TD
Oh, so those are the mechanics Urban Meyer has been talking about. Cardale Jones dropped back on a play-action pass and stepped into a beautiful deep ball that was caught in stride by Marshall for a third-quarter touchdown. The longest touchdown throw of the season for Jones might’ve been the biggest. The Buckeyes were tied in the second half yet again. But this time, Jones stepped up and did the heavy lifting. We finally saw Jones’ big arm unleashed in a game-changing way. That’s what the Buckeyes need to look like an elite offense.
Telling stat: Three Buckeye receivers combine for 264 yards
We’ve been waiting for the Buckeye skill players to step up as down-field threats. Part of that was on Jones and part of that was their inability to break free over the top. But they did that with regularity on Saturday. Marshall, Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas all had big plays downfield. Against a couple of talented corners in Sean Davis and William Likely, that was pretty impressive.
-J.T. Barrett works as red-zone quarterback
Everybody was caught off guard a little bit when Barrett entered the game in the first quarter. Meyer did talk about the idea of using Barrett as a red-zone quarterback, but we weren’t sure if we would see that in the first quarter. We did. And in a rare occurrence for the Buckeye offense, it worked. Barrett scored his first three rushing touchdowns of the year and converted a huge third-and-long pass to Thomas. It’s basically the logic Meyer used with Tim Tebow when he was a freshman at Florida. Jones was 2-for-10 for eight yards in the red zone this year, so the move makes sense. Based on the results Meyer got from the new system, it seems likely that they’ll stick with it going forward. And yes, Barrett is back.
-Second straight week with 75-plus-yard run to QB allowed
Last week, it was Zander Diamont. This week, it was Perry Hills. A broken play led to a 75-yard run to get the Terps back into the game at the end of the second quarter. For all of the capable playmakers on the Buckeye defense, that shouldn’t happen. It’s not even a matter of making a highlight reel play, just anybody that can make an open-field tackle. The Buckeyes were actually solid in containing the run, but the numbers won’t reflect it because of Hills busting loose. This defense has few cracks, but they need to be able to contain mobile quarterbacks better than they have the last two weeks.
-Joey Bosa delivers best game of season
It could’ve been a nightmare game for Bosa. He was initially called for targeting in the third quarter, which would’ve meant an ejection and a suspension for the first half of next week’s game against Penn State. Instead, the call was overturned and Bosa got his first solo sack of the season. He and Tyquan Lewis helped the Buckeyes finally get a pass rush on Hills and prevent a late comeback from the Terps.
What it means: OSU offense back on track, Randy Edsall done?
Ohio State is still a high-powered offense. That was never in question. The Buckeyes’ ability to let that show was in question. On Saturday, we finally saw the Buckeyes get back to moving the ball through the air. If Ohio State had prevented a couple of monster plays early, this game would’ve been a complete rout. But credit Maryland for stepping up and playing for its head coach. If Edsall is indeed done in College Park, his team went out with its best effort of the season. His team looked disinterested in the last two weeks and on Saturday, they played with the No. 1 team in the country for three-and-a-half quarters. That’s worth something.