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Buckeye Brief: Ohio State’s passing game clicks, Rashod Berry makes a statement and more

Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws a pass in the second quarter of the 2017 Ohio State- UNLV game on Sep. 23. Ohio State won 54- 21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

The No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes laid waste to UNLV, defeating the Rebels 54-21 in a decisive victory at Ohio Stadium Saturday afternoon. Here are five of our takeaways.

Passing game clicks

Ohio State’s offense traversed the field at will against UNLV as quarterbacks J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow combined to throw for a school-record 474 yards.

Barrett completed 12-of-17 passes for 209 yards before he was subbed out with three minutes remaining in the second quarter. Five of Barrett’s 12 passes went for touchdowns.

“I think when we had opportunities to play with the [starters], I think we did a good job executing,” Barrett said. “Coming out playing fast. Just not being lackadaisical.”

Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) catches a snap in the fourth quarter of the Ohio State- UNLV game on Sep. 23. Ohio State won 54- 21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Barrett was replaced by Haskins, who went 15-for-23 for 228 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Burrow entered the game on the Buckeyes’ finals drive and completed all four passes for 37 yards.

Barrett and Haskins whipped the ball around to different players. Thirteen different players caught passes and seven different Buckeyes — the most in school history — came down with touchdown receptions.

“I don’t think we’re at our finished product yet,” H-back Parris Campbell said. “I feel like we have so much potential on the offensive side and we have so far to go. We’re making strides and we’re pushing toward that.”

Ohio State expanded beyond the screens and throws to the flats that permeated the offense’s scheme in the first few games of the season. Building off the short passes, Barrett and Haskins successfully attacked down the field. They combined to complete 12 passes for 15-plus yards.

Barrett said the team also focused and improved on speeding up the offense’s tempo.

Rashod Berry makes a statement

Redshirt sophomore tight end Rashod Berry had not found a positional home. Once a tight end, he was moved to the other side of the ball to work with the defensive ends before the team turned him back into a tight end in the spring.

On Saturday, the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder might have finally found his fit as he caught three passes for 57 yards.

Ohio State redshirt sophomore tight end Rashod Berry (13) celebrates after running the ball in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Ohio State- UNLV game on Sep. 23. Ohio State won 54- 21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Berry not only caught his first pass, but scored his first touchdown on a rumbling 38-yard pass in which he broke multiple tackles and used his physicality to bully the Rebel defenders.

“I was just determined to get to the touchdown, get into the end zone and [I] was speechless,” Berry said.

Though redshirt senior Marcus Baugh returned as the starter, he has never been a true receiving threat. He has never had a catch as long as Berry’s in his entire career at Ohio State. If Berry can develop into a potent option in the passing game, it can give Ohio State an offensive option it lacks at tight end.

Despite the positives, Berry also fumbled the ball and UNLV recovered just yards from its own end zone.

“Rashod Berry, a very talented guy, that is coming and coming and coming,” Meyer said. “He runs through people, but then he laid it on the ground one time going in. So, a very talented guy. I love his attitude right now.”

Youth movement

Routs in which one team possesses a more talented, deeper roster of players usually provide young and inexperienced athletes a chance to get on the field. That was the case Saturday afternoon.

Haskins threw more passes than Barrett, freshman linebacker Baron Browning and freshman defensive end Chase Young worked with the first team and each tallied four tackles, including a partial tackle for loss, and walk-on wideout C.J. Saunders led the Buckeyes with six catches and finished with 102 yards, the second most on the team.

Ohio State freshman defensive end Chase Young (2) waits in between plays in the fourth quarter of the Ohio State- UNLV game on Sept. 23, 2017. Ohio State won 54- 21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Meyer said his team’s fast start led to the ability to give some people playing time.

“Got some young players, the necessity to play in front of 110,000 people,” Meyer said. “And I take a lot of positives out of it as you get ready for conference play.”

Earlier in the week, Meyer said he wanted to get younger players more early playing time, but the team lacked the opportunity to do so as it was involved in several close games.

That was not a problem Saturday as starters began to exit the game before the first half even ended.

“I think it was really good for our young guys getting some work as well,” Barrett said. “Those guys, if they play well get some confidence. And then also too if they didn’t play so hot, to be able to watch the film and learn from it.”

Linebacker Tuf Borland made the first start of his career and freshman cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, a former five-star prospect, broke up the first pass of his career.

Freshman wideout Jaylen Harris made the first two catches of his career, and a week after making his first catch, freshman receiver Trevon Grimes caught two passes for 12 yards. Freshman linebacker Pete Werner debuted on defense, picking up three total tackles, and freshman safety Isaiah Pryor earned the first sack of his career.

Pass rush perfection

Ohio State’s front seven left UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers flustered in the pocket as he rarely dropped back without a defender quickly in his face. The Buckeyes sacked Rogers on four occasions and tallied 13 tackles for loss, the most by Ohio State since it played against Michigan in 2008.

“It builds confidence,” sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa said. “And it just allows you to go through your progressions and just get more used to playing out there. It’s helpful and nice.”

Bosa led the team with three tackles for loss and picked up a sack, as well. Fourteen different players had at least a partial tackle for loss. Five players — linebacker Jerome Baker, linebacker Malik Harrison, defensive end Tyquan Lewis, Pryor, and Bosa — picked up at least half a sack.

Taking care of business

The potential to be caught sleeping in a noon game against a lesser opponent exists, but Ohio State was ready for the challenge. UNLV punted twice, was intercepted twice, missed a field goal and was stuffed in its own end zone for a safety before it could score a touchdown midway through the second quarter.

Ohio State players sing “Carmen Ohio” after the Buckeyes’ 54-21 win against UNLV on Sept. 23 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor

“I was very pleased with the first team,” Meyer said. “Just no nonsense, went out and played as hard as they possibly could.”

The Buckeyes encountered no struggles on offense as they scored on six of their first seven possessions. The only time Ohio State did not score, the team reached the 2-yard line before Campbell fumbled and turned the ball over.

Meyer is looking forward to seeing what the offense can do against a more talented defense than UNLV’s unit, which gave up 43 points to Howard and leaves much to be desired.

“Probably the same thoughts as everybody else,” Meyer said. “Let’s go do it against a team that’s equally matched.”

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