Co-offensive coordinators Tim Beck and Ed Warinner received criticism from across the Ohio State fan base following a disappointing offensive showing against Penn State. Occasional vanilla play calling mixed with receivers not getting open, a lack of a clean pocket for redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett and only two touches for junior H-back Curtis Samuel were all grounds for fan panic on Saturday.
Although the team still finds itself at No. 6 in the latest AP poll, the Buckeyes looked vulnerable across the offensive front last Saturday. While a change might seem to be imminent, OSU coach Urban Meyer said the team is keeping the same look moving forward.
“I don’t think we played our best game,” he said. “Conversations about any personnel changes usually go on today. I don’t foresee that. But we need to improve.”
Notably, sophomore right tackle Isaiah Prince struggled against James Franklin’s defense, failing to bend his knees and react to twists from defensive ends and linebackers. So far this season, Prince had been performing at a high level, and looked as though he was filling in well as a starter.
All that progress seemed to come crumbling down in State College, Pennsylvania, as the sophomore had an extremely tough go. Regardless of the struggles, redshirt junior guard Billy Price said he would stand by his teammate no matter what, and ripping on Prince would solve none of the Buckeyes problems.
“It’s not attack Isaiah by any means, because I’ll go to war for him right now,” Price said. “I have no problem with it. I won’t sit here and allow someone to knit-pick him. He and I, we’re going to get better. There’s no doubt about it.”
In all, OSU allowed well over 10 hurries along with six sacks, both numbers well above the season average. After keeping defenses at bay for most of the season, the Buckeyes had a proverbial leak from Wisconsin turn into a flood against Penn State in terms of pass rush.
The problem with sacks has come mostly on the road. This year, OSU allows just a half a sack per game while at Ohio Stadium. However on the road, as the team was against Penn State, the Buckeyes surrendered three sacks per contest.
Redshirt senior center Pat Elflein said this week has been all about righting wrongs and doing a better job at creating a solid pocket while also creating wide-open running lanes for the running backs.
He also said the team has not focused on just the sack issue, but anything the coaches and the offensive line could think of, and said there were a few things the team could take away from the loss.
“Just really focus on the details and remembering what it took to get our program to the way it is,” Elflein said. “And not taking that stuff for granted; the way we prepare, the way we practice. Everything, all the little things.”
Warinner said the problems are spread across the entire offensive line, and not just with Prince. He extended the challenge of improvement to his entire team, as well as singling out “The Slobs” for a rough game.
“Everybody needs to get better,” Warinner said. “Isaiah’s working on the things he needs to get better at. We’ve addressed those, and he’s not the only person that has areas that they need to improve. We just didn’t do enough good things.”
Although the team has been criticized for its lack of production for multiple weeks, Meyer remained adamant that there would be no personnel changes or offensive overhauls. In his mind, the problems are all about execution.
The Buckeyes’ coach said a losing performance and a poor showing is sometimes necessary for the team to grow.
“Life lessons and football lessons are learned,” he said. “As a coach you really enjoy watching guys grow up obviously. Get kicked in the teeth, you don’t enjoy that. But that’s also part of the game.”