COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s offense had their most balanced attack between running and passing that they’ve had in weeks.
The Buckeyes threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns on the arm of Dwayne Haskins while Ohio State’s running back duo of Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins combined for 254 rushing yards against the Huskers defense.
That 252/254 split in yardage is 50/50 almost on the dot, which is how Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has always loved to run his offense.
Ohio State also managed to fix their red zone problems for the most part as the Buckeyes scored three touchdowns in four trips to the red zone against Nebraska with Dwayne Haskins throwing an interception on one of the four red zone trips, but the turnover problem can be discussed in another column.
Urban Meyer’s biggest problems with the offense that he named after the Purdue loss were the run game and red zone offense.
It appears those two problems have been fixed.
Why is that? Why is it that a team that couldn’t run block at all for several weeks and that wasn’t even in the top 100 in the country in red zone efficiency was able to excel in both of those departments on Saturday vs. Nebraska?
It’s a simple answer: they abandoned the run-pass option (RPO).
We’ve known for weeks now – and so have the teams that Ohio State has faced – that quarterback Dwayne Haskins poses no run threat whatsoever. So, in order to make the offense more successful, Ohio State finally settled on the genius idea of letting the guys who’s really good at throwing throw and the guys who are really good at running run.
“Honestly,” running back Mike Weber said, “we didn’t have any reads today. I think it was just give the ball to the running back and let him make a play.”
The offensive line is the biggest benefactor of this new scheme, as they no longer have to decide whether to run block or to pass block on an RPO play. They simply know what type of play is going to be called – while the opposing defense doesn’t – and they put their best effort into one type of blocking, and it worked fantastically against Nebraska, leading Ohio State to their highest rushing total since their season opener against Oregon State.
The scheme in the run game was no longer on an option, but on straight downhill running, which brought much delight to the running backs and offensive line alike.
“The whole offensive line was happy about it,” said offensive lineman Thayer Munford.
You could see joy on the faces of all the Ohio State offensive linemen and running backs in their postgame interviews when they were talking about not running RPOs.
Any why wouldn’t they be happy? It worked. Had it not been for a few fumbles and a red zone interception, Ohio State could’ve easily scored many more points against Nebraska, and the Huskers themselves wouldn’t have scored so many points as 14 of their 31 points came off of Buckeye turnovers.
Ohio State is still a flawed team and they still have much to improve on before they’re ready to contend for the College Football Playoff or even the Big Ten Championship, but the OSU offense took a giant step in the right direction on Saturday.
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