Two very sluggish and lackluster offfensive performances in a row. Coming off a game that saw starting quarterback Cardale Jones post 4/9 passing for 36 yards, with 2 interceptions, the popular opinion was that J.T. Barrett would claim the starting quarterback spot against Western Michigan.
As is often in life, popular opinion was incorrect. Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer stated that Cardale Jones would still start at quarterback.
Urban Meyer Made a Statement with Actions: We Don't have a Quarterback Problem http://t.co/zEClnTDevK pic.twitter.com/uTxlGOdLYk— Tony Gerdeman (@GerdOZone) September 24, 2015
While the quarterback decision loomed over the proceedings this week, there are other areas related to Ohio State that must be considered as they take on Western Michigan in Ohio Stadium at 3:30 pm ET on ABC (or ESPN, depending on where you live).
1. Establishing A Consistent Offensive Identity ~ I completely agree with Coach Meyer when he states that “Quarterbacks are product of those around them”. I also believe that in many respects that Ohio State may have an issue with having too many weapons that the coaching staff is trying to incorporate into the offense. If you are not aware of how Meyer came to design his style of the spread option offense, please click on this link to learn about when Coach Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame, and a painful loss to Nebraska that did not include former Fighting Irish WR David Givens.
What is the point? That in the quest to include playmakers, Ohio State is deviating from what led them to the emphatic victories over Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon on their way to the national championship in 2014.
To make Cardale Jones more effective at quarterback, Ohio State needs to be able to run the ball with authority against Western Michigan. Yes, I know Ezekiel Elliott has been running for over 100 yards against Hawaii and Northern Illinois, but the running game has not been nearly as dominant as it was last season in those aforementioned games. Once Ohio State has the dominant running game going, it will open up the passing game for play-action opportunities down the field. Once the running game is going north and south, it will open up the opportunity to run east and west with Braxton Miller or Curtis Samuel out of the wildcat. In case this sounds familiar, it is because I mentioned it earlier this week on our regularly scheduled edition of the Men of the Scarlet and Gray Podcast with Shannon Sommers.
2. Be Patient With Cardale Jones ~ Easier said (or in this case, written) than done. No quarterback can get into a rhythm if they believe they will be pulled after the first time a mistake is made. I was in Ohio Stadium last weekend against Northern Illinois, and the mood was palpable after Jones threw his second interception that Barrett would be entering the game. While I hope and believe Jones will play better than he did against Northern Illinois, it is crucial for Jones’ confidence that he is given the opportunity to go the distance, to squash any chances of a quarterback controversy from growing beyond the point that it already has.
3. “A Lot Of Hope Is Dangerous” ~ If that phrase sounds familiar, props to you for recognizing it. Northern Illinois left Ohio Stadium feeling that the game at Ohio State was winnable, as Ohio State only defeated them 20-13. How does this relate to Western Michigan? It will be important for Ohio State’s psyche to crush the hope of Western Michigan, early and often. Once Ohio State gets a lead, it will be crucial to maintain a level of intensity that has not been seen this season since the opening game victory at Virginia Tech.
Prediction: Look for Ohio State to come out with a focus and intensity after what can only be presumed as a physical week of practice. While I have no idea how Cardale Jones will perform, look for a better game plan that will take the best of Jones’ talents, and the offensive line playing at a level not seen since the opening game. I am going Ohio State 42, Western Michigan 14.
I would be remiss if I did not give many plaudits and compliments to my co-host Shannon Sommers on the Men of the Scarlet and Gray podcast for lining up the esteemed Bill King as a guest. Bill was tremendous in our interview, and if you have not yet heard the podcast, you are really missing out on what was a very informative and fun time.