In Ohio State’s home opening loss, the team averaged just 5.1 yards per play and scored only 16 points.
Since then, the offense has averaged 7.8 yards per play and 53.2 points per game.
Whether it be improved play, new personnel, different play-calling or some combination of the three, something would appear to have changed with the team.
But to co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, the difference in the production might be more attributed to improved chemistry rather than any other drastic changes to the team.
“I felt earlier in the year when we struggled, we didn’t come into the game with momentum,” Wilson said. “I think we’ve came through each week with momentum. Now you’ve still got to execute on Saturdays, but I think we’re coming into the game with some confidence and some momentum during the week of practice.”
With each win Ohio State has secured, the team seems to be clicking more as a cohesive group of players and finding more success in nearly everything it has tried. But why wasn’t the 49-21 win against Indiana enough to propel the Buckeyes into their clash against Oklahoma?
Quarterback J.T. Barrett believes the key to building momentum does not come as much from practice as much as it does from executing plays in games. At the time of the Oklahoma game, the Buckeyes had played just one game and were still searching for their identity.
“I think it’s interesting being that in college, we don’t have a preseason,” Barrett said. “In NFL preseason games, they get time to get going as far as actual game to football. We just try to do the best we can in practice. And everything doesn’t click in the first weeks of college football.”
As far as changes to playcalling or improved execution of those plays, the Buckeyes believe they are right where they were at the beginning of the season. The only difference now is that they have had a chance to thoroughly knock some rust off and the individuals are now starting to play more like a team.
“We’ve put it all together the way those groups can play,” Wilson said. “What we’re trying to sell right now, the more we play together, the more we play for each other, linemen stepping up, the second and third tight ends, second and third running backs, five, six, seven receivers. The more guys play, the more energy is. It grows, that chemistry.”
Could it be that simple? Is the only key to beating a top-five opponent just having more chemistry on the team? Redshirt junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon said it just might be.
The starting wideout believes Ohio State’s improved play is a direct result of the team just connecting better with each other. He felt fine with how the team was preparing earlier in the season, even after it took its loss to Oklahoma. Now it’s just about everyone executing better.
“I just feel like you approach every day the same,” Dixon said. “If you don’t approach the date being the best you can, you’re going to lose. Different opponents come, but it’s still the same thing week after week. You’ve still got to be at your best.”
The Buckeyes will train to maintain the momentum and chemistry through the off week before its matchup against Penn State.