In four of its first five games, Ohio State has faced varying degrees of difficulty in dual-threat quarterbacks, and the trend continues Saturday when Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey comes to Ohio Stadium.
“The guy we just played is one of the best we’ve gone against,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said of Trace McSorley, who set a Penn State record for total offense last week in the Buckeyes’ 27-26 win. “And I see a lot of that in (Ramsey). He’s an extension-of-plays, rugged, get-the-first down, move the chains-type guy.”
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When the Buckeyes took on Indiana in the season opener last year, the quarterback was pocket passer Richard Lagow. He dropped precision passes on the Ohio State secondary through the first half, with fade throws that helped the Hoosiers build a 14-13 lead by halftime only to fall to the Buckeyes 49-21. Indiana moved soon enough to Ramsey, though, and have stuck with him this season while opening 4-1.
Ramsey is willing to run, the second-leading rusher for the Hoosiers with 170 yards and two touchdowns. He also is completing 71 percent of his passes (115 of 162), best in the Big Ten, just ahead of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins Jr. (70.8). But Ramsey is just eighth in passing efficiency; despite throwing for eight TDs, he has also given up five interceptions.
Indiana coach Tom Allen asserted that where Ramsey has stepped up his game is in his desire to run the offense, not just run.
“The improvement has come in his poise and confidence, knowing where to take the ball, very patient in the pocket with his eyes downfield,” Allen said. “Any time you’ve got a guy who can run the ball a little bit, sometimes younger in his career he runs too quickly without keeping his eyes downfield.
“He’s doing a better job with that and being patient. If he has to run, he’ll run. If not, he’ll create time in space for our receivers to get open and get key first downs. He’s a year older. He’s bigger, faster, stronger. He’s just such a competitor, and our team believes in him.”