OSU offense isn't resting on showy statistics

Tim May
Ohio State receiver K.J. Hill (14) celebrates his touchdown catch with a leaping Binjimen Victor and Terry McLaurin against TCU on Saturday. The Buckeyes are No. 2 nationally in scoring, No. 3 in total offense and No. 9 in passing yards. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

Headed into a game Saturday with Tulane, the Dwayne Haskins Jr.-led Ohio State offense has stacked stats through the first three games, leaving the question of what can be improved.

“I thought we can keep getting better,” Haskins said of the general approach. “We’re not in playoff form yet. So we’re getting there.

“Just execution is the biggest thing with the offense, the timing. We had some times during the game last week when we didn’t execute the way we needed and it messed up the timing. If we can get the ball rolling from the start, we can be really dangerous.”

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Check out the numbers, though, because the Buckeyes are:

• No. 2 nationally in scoring (56.3 points per game, though three touchdowns have come from the defense).

• No. 3 in total offense (608.7-yard average)

• No. 6 in passing efficiency (194.6 rating) with Haskins No. 8 individually (192.4).

• No. 9 in passing yards (348.0-yard average) and No. 12 in rushing (260.7).

Anyone watching a 40-28 win last week over TCU, by far the best defense Ohio State has faced this season, could see that although the Buckeyes put up 562 yards of total offense, the offense scored just three of the team’s five TDs. And one of those three was set up by a partially blocked punt.

That’s why the principals of the offense are not thinking they have it all figured out.

“The execution level is going to continue to increase,” offensive coordinator Ryan Day said of what can improve. “We’ve got to capitalize when we’re in the red zone (having to settle for three field-goal tries last week, making two, being an example).

“We’ve got to continue to do a good job in situational stuff, and by that I mean third downs,” in which they were just 4 of 12 against TCU, “red zone, goal line, short yardage … those situations that will come up like they did in the game the other night.”

With that said, against TCU he thought the Buckeyes did a good job moving the ball out of their end to flip the field position. He said the same about a clock-eating drive in the fourth quarter after gaining the double-digit lead, taking away much-needed possessions from TCU.

“As we continue to get into conference play, situational football will be very important,” Day said.

The Buckeyes also offered future defenses, such as Tulane’s, food for thought. Haskins will never be confused with J.T. Barrett, but he actually kept for the first time this season on an option play for a touchdown. So the Buckeyes do still have that in the playbook when he is on the field.

“Anytime that happens, the defensive coordinators have to account for him,” Day said. “Once they account for him, job done.”

Which means there could be more to come. Maybe.

“I definitely feel like my legs are a part of my game,” Haskins said. “It might not be the biggest part, but it definitely is there. Plays where it has to be right at a defensive lineman or linebacker and I have to pull it, if that’s called I’m going to read it. That’s part of the game plan.”


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