Under Kevin Wilson, the Ohio State offense thrived in the team’s spring game on Saturday. The Buckeyes are looking for a strong season under their new OC.
It’s merely a spring game, of course. But Ohio State fans had to be excited about what they were able to see in Columbus on Saturday, as the Buckeyes were able to turn the page from the offensive ineptitude that plagued them in their embarrassing shutout loss to Clemson to end last season in a College Football Playoff semifinal game.
Led by new coordinator Kevin Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, the Ohio State offense looked very formidable once again, as Buckeye quarterbacks combined for 654 yards and seven touchdowns through the air during the team’s spring game at Ohio Stadium.
Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett led the offense on a touchdown drive on its opening possession, finishing 8 of 12 for 71 yards and a score through the air before head coach Urban Meyer and Co. showed off their deep stock of quarterbacks. Backups Joe Burrow (14-of-22 passing for 262 yards and 3 TDs) and Dwayne Haskins (26-of-37 passing for 293 yard and 3 TDs) took over after Barrett, connecting on several long passes as OSU showcased its newfound vertical passing game.
Again, it was just a spring game. Exhibition and all, though, it was a sight for sore eyes for Buckeye fans after watching Barrett gain just 127 yards through the air and toss two interceptions in last season’s 31-0 Fiesta Bowl shutout loss to Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. Meyer brought in Wilson and Day to jump-start the offense, and the moves certainly looked as if they are paying immediate dividends.
Ohio State fans starved for offensive fireworks don’t want to hear that it was “just a spring game.”
Meyer made it his top priority heading into the offseason to improve the team’s downfield passing attack, which included protecting Barrett and whichever QB was taking snaps, so it was encouraging to at least see the hard work pay off after its spring practice season.
The fact that the Buckeyes were looking to connect on big plays early revealed that Meyer is intent on making this a much more explosive offense. The power run game will remain the bread and butter, but a national championship run will not be possible unless big plays are made through the air. That’s why Buckeye fans had to be excited to see Ke’Von Huguely (35 yards), Johnnie Dixon (44 yards) and Terry McLaurin (30 and 22 yards) haul in long scoring grabs. It was an aggressive offensive display, which is what college football fans are more used to seeing with Meyer-led squads.
Barrett is under his third different OC since arriving in Columbus after his completion percentage and yards per attempt decreased following the loss of former assistant Tom Herman (to Houston and eventually Texas). Barrett wasn’t the only issue with the offense, of course, but he remains the face of it. And strong play from the veteran signal-caller is needed.
We’ll see if such explosiveness will carry over into the season, but it’s at least clear that the offensive philosophy has shifted a bit in Columbus. And that’s an exciting thing for Buckeye fans to ponder heading into the summer months as prep continues for the season opener against Wilson’s former team on Aug. 31, Indiana on the road.