Buckeyes

Buckeyes topple Hoosiers: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In their season opener last Thursday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes started slow, trailing the Indiana Hoosiers for much of the first half. Luckily, a football game has two halves, and the scarlet and gray took advantage of it. While they struggled in the first 30 minutes, the Buckeyes dominated in the second half to blowout the Hoosiers, 49-21.

There were plenty of good, and only a few bad and ugly things throughout the game. Let’s take a look:

The Good

J.T. Barrett

The first three-time captain in the storied history of the Ohio State football program, the redshirt senior has plenty of pressure on his shoulders this season.

Although he struggled early, Barrett made the most of his opportunities in the first game of the season, completing 20-of-35 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns while also running for 61 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

It took a little while for the quarterback to find his rhythm, but when he did, he made the most of it. Even with multiple dropped passes, one of which would have been a long touchdown, Barrett still threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, which isn’t bad at all. His five-yard completion to K.J. Hill on the opening drive of the game made him the program’s all-time leader in total offense.

Ohio State’s offense will go as far as Barrett takes them this year, the first game of the season was just a small sample of what he and the offense can do the rest of the season.

For his efforts against Indiana, Barrett was named Big Ten’s co-Offensive Player of the Week.

J.K. Dobbins

After suffering a season-ending ankle injury during the first play of his senior season, Dobbins came into Thursday night having not played in an legitimate football game in almost two years.

With Mike Weber still nursing a hamstring injury, the true freshman was given the start, and he made the most of the opportunity. Although he didn’t find the end zone, Dobbins ran for 181 yards on 29 carries, including one carry that will be replayed throughout the season.

He played so well that some seem to think that Dobbins will start over Weber even when Weber is 100 percent. That says a lot, especially given how talented both of them are.

For his efforts against Indiana, Dobbins was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

Antonio Williams

When Weber is healthy, Williams will be the team’s third-string running back. But, even so, he made the most of his opportunities during the season opener, much like Dobbins did.

While receiving plenty of goal-line touches, the sophomore ran for 44 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.

Williams proves that the Buckeyes have plenty of talent and depth in the backfield in 2017.

Parris Campbell

Although he dropped a wide-open touchdown, Campbell showed off his speed and athleticism throughout the game.

The team’s leading receiver, he had six catches for 136 yards and a touchdown on Thursday. His touchdown was quite impressive.

Johnnie Dixon

Dixon was expected to have a breakout season now that he is 100 percent healthy. If the opener against Indiana is any indicator, he could quite possibly do just that.

He may have only brought in two passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, but much like Campbell, Dixon showed off his speed on his touchdown reception.

Ohio State’s wide receiver group may be young without much experience, but with Campbell and Dixon leading the way, they can prove to be quite good as the season goes on.

Kendall Sheffield

The transfer may not have gotten the starting nod, but Sheffield was the team’s leading tackler against the Hoosiers, totaling seven tackles and two pass breakups.

Jordan Fuller

Taking the place of a playmaker like Malik Hooker is hard, but Fuller will look to do so in 2017. In his first start, the safety had five tackles and an interception. His interception following a tipped pass by Sheffield when Indiana was on the verge of scoring could go down as the turning point in the game.

Denzel Ward

The team’s top cornerback this season, Ward has big shoes to fill after the talent that has left Ohio State’s cornerback group for the NFL over the last few years.

He’s known for his speed, but Ward’s ability to cover opponent’s top receivers will be crucial in 2017. He had four tackles and five (!) pass breakups, but his interception was his most impressive play of the night. While sticking to his receiver, Ward was able to look back, find the ball, and battle his way to get his first pick of the year.

Tyquan Lewis

Ohio State’s defensive line (especially the defensive end unit) is loaded and Lewis is one of the many reasons why.

With the Buckeyes having plenty of inexperience in the secondary, the front-seven must be able to get into the opponent’s backfield. Lewis did just that. He totaled three tackles, two sacks, and two tackles for loss against Indiana Thursday night.

Robert Landers

He may not have had a single tackle, but Landers (almost) had one of the best plays of the game in the opener. Although it was called an incomplete pass following a lengthy official review, the defensive tackle showed off his speed and athleticism after recovering what he thought was a fumble and running it in for a touchdown.

Fat Guy Touchdowns are the best, and Landers almost made his way onto the highlight reel.

Drue Chrisman

Taking the place of Cameron Johnston, Chrisman’s ability to pin the opposition deep in their end of the field will be crucial as the season goes on.

He had six punts that averaged 45.3 yards per punt, three of which landed inside the 20-yard line against Indiana.

Rush defense

Ohio State’s defensive line will dominate throughout much of the season, and they did just that last Thursday.

The Buckeyes allowed Indiana to run for just 17 yards in the blowout win.

Red-zone offense

If the scarlet and gray can be efficient in the red zone, it will turn into very good things for the offense moving forward. In the opener, they converted all six of their red-zone opportunities, four were touchdowns, the other two were field goals.

Fourth-down offense

Urban Meyer is known to be very aggressive in terms of going for it on fourth down and he proved that against Indiana. The Buckeyes converted 2-of-3 fourth-down opportunities.

The Bad

The deep ball

Throughout his career, Barrett has been known to not be able to throw the deep ball. Although that could be blamed on Ohio State not having any deep threats in 2016, that must change in 2017. Whether it’s to open up the run game or just for big, deep plays, the quarterback and receivers must be able to convert on deep balls much more often this season.

While two of Barrett’s three passing touchdowns were both for more than 50 yards, they were both short crossing routes that Campbell and Dixon showed off their speed to breakaway from the defense and run for a touchdown.

He’s very accurate, but here’s a look at Barrett’s struggles to find the deep ball against Indiana.

The Ugly

First half offense

13 points isn’t ideal, especially due to Ohio State’s offense not being able to find any rhythm in the first half either. Luckily, Dobbins dominated throughout all four quarters and the offense was able to find it’s game in the second half.

Pass defense

The Buckeyes’ secondary is very inexperienced, but they also have plenty of talent. Although Indiana has one of the best passing attacks in the Big Ten, Ohio State allowed the Hoosiers to pass for 420 yards. That cannot happen against much better competition, including in Week 2, when the Oklahoma Sooners travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes Saturday night in primetime.