Thursday, September 14, 2017

Buckeyes Preview 9/14/17: Ohio State vs Army Black Knights

By Jason Disantis, @JasonInCLE

Ohio State will look to regroup after a tough loss at home to the hands of Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma. At 1-1 and ranked #8 the Buckeyes are still in great position to win the Big Ten and solidify a spot in the playoff but unless they get their offense figured out. But with the strength of the Big Ten this year (four teams currently in the top ten) the Buckeyes and J.T Barrett are going to have to play better or they won’t stand a chance.

If you read my season preview you know that I highlighted the two biggest changes on this Ohio State team to talk about. The new look Kevin Wilson offense, and the secondary.

So far through two games the offense has left something to be desired. And although there has been debate about what the problem is, and plenty of blame to go around, I feel the biggest issue is J.T. Barrett’s lack of growth from last year to this year.

J.T. Barrett has been great for the Buckeyes. He is a tremendous leader. He owns most if not all relevant records for Ohio State quarterbacks. But the young man has maxed out his potential. He has shown no growth from last year to today as a quarterback.

There is a group of people that say that the biggest problem is the receivers aren’t getting separation, and I do agree that they are not doing a good enough job of creating space.

But there are two problems with only focusing on that argument.

Number one, Barrett is missing plenty of wide open shots. Watching the first two games this year there have been a couple times I have stood up ready to celebrate a touchdown only to watch the sail over the wide-outs head by five yards.

Secondly, J.T. Barrett does not give his wide receivers opportunities to make plays.

These are all four-star guys with good size. Austin Mack is 6'2". Binjimen Victor is 6'4". Parris Campbell and KJ Hill are both at least six feet. Even if they aren’t getting great separation as a quarterback you need to put the ball in a position for your play makers to make a play.

Despite the calls for Ohio State to make the move to Dwayne Haskins, head coach Urban Meyer as stood firm in his confidence in Barrett. When talking about what players give them the best opportunity to win after the Oklahoma loss Meyer made it clear what he thought about Barrett compared to Haskins saying, “right now it’s not even a question.”

Ohio State’s offense hasn’t been the only disappointment this year. The Buckeyes secondary is missing Lattimore, Hooker, and Conley more than they thought they would.

After giving up 410 yards through the air to Indiana and another 386 to Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma, the Buckeyes secondary is ranked dead last in the FBS. Through two games opponents have completed 67% of their passes against Ohio State and have thrown for 6 touchdowns.

The talent in the defensive backfield is unquestionable. But the inexperience is proving to be tough for Ohio State to overcome.

“I think we played a good football team and we didn’t play nearly as well as we could,” Greg Schiano said after the loss to Oklahoma. “So credit to them, but we need to get better quickly.”

Ohio State’s secondary will get a week off from getting torched as the Black Knights of Army bring their triple option offense to Columbus on Saturday. Although 2-0 Army has only completed two passes this season, they may be tempted to throw a little more against the vulnerable Buckeye secondary.

Coming into Saturday the Black Knights are averaging 42 points a game and 417 yards rushing. When you look at the triple-option, you get exactly what you see. Their leading rusher is senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw. Coach Jeff Monken knows that if Army is going to stay in this game and have a chance to win they’re going to have to run that option perfectly.

“We’ve got to run the ball if we’re going to be successful,” Monken said. “We’re not going to win bunch of games if we chuck it all over the place. We’ve got to pick our spots. We tried to pick them on Saturday, but we had a couple of opportunities that we missed… But we’re going to hit some of those too sometimes. We’ll keep taking our shots every once in a while.”

What: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Army Black Knights
When: Saturday September 16, 2017, 4:30 PM ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus Ohio
Watch: FOX
Spread: OSU +30
Over/Under: 53
Money Line: OSU -10000, Army +4000

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