Halfway through Ohio State’s regular season, assessing the Buckeyes’ strengths and weaknesses doesn’t require a football Ph.D.
The Buckeyes’ passing game is more dynamic than probably ever in the program’s history. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. earned Big Ten offensive player of the week honors for the fourth time in six games. The redshirt sophomore threw for six touchdowns, tying the school record, in Saturday’s 49-26 victory over Indiana. His 455 passing yards was only 3 yards short of Art Schlichter’s OSU record.
But though the Buckeyes are undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the polls, they have glaring deficiencies.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
“The weakness of our team is balance on offense and obviously pass defense,” coach Urban Meyer said in his Monday news conference.
Ohio State plays visiting Minnesota (3-2, 0-2) at noon on Saturday. In the past two weeks the Golden Gophers have been outscored 90-44 in losses to Maryland and Iowa.
Ohio State’s run game has sputtered the last two weeks. For the first time this season, no running backs or offensive linemen were designated “champions” for their play against the Hoosiers.
Ohio State’s pass defense has been a problem all year. In past years when the defense struggled, Meyer vowed to get more involved. With Greg Schiano as defensive coordinator, however, he believes the defense is in good hands.
“I have conversations,” he said. “I have so much confidence in the people doing it that we’re going to get it fixed.”
Meyer was encouraged by the way the Buckeyes played in the second half against Indiana, limiting the Hoosiers to 89 yards in the final 30 minutes after surrendering 317 in the first 30.
“The second half, they were outstanding,” Meyer said.
Linebacker Malik Harrison and defensive end Jonathon Cooper left the Indiana game with injuries. Meyer said both were “much better” and their status would be determined later in the week.
Meyer also addressed the headache that caused him to require medical attention late in Saturday’s game. Afterward, he said it stemmed from the arachnoid cyst that periodically plagues him.
“I’ve been dealing with that cyst for many years,” he said. “We had a surgery several years ago (in 2014). When it does take place, (they) give me some medicine and (I) feel fine. It’s something I have to monitor.”