Ohio State has some issues to overcome.
In the final game before their bye week, the Buckeyes fell to Purdue 49-20, allowing 539 yards of total offense in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Saturday.
Two weeks prior to Ohio State facing Nebraska at home on Nov. 3, redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin knows how players should approach the next few days: in the same way the Buckeyes approached practices and game planning after the Iowa loss last season.
“There was a more seriousness that everybody took about,” McLaurin said. “When you are on a roll, it’s not like you feel like you can’t get touched, but you don’t know what that taste is like to lose. And it almost makes you recalibrated and get your mind right, look yourself in the mirror, all of us men in the locker room and see what you can do to get better.”
Here are three takeaways Ohio State can look at after its 29-point loss to the Boilermakers.
Dobbins struggles again
Heading into the off week, much of the attention for Ohio State has been on the lack of production from the running back room, relying on the pro-style offense redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins has thrived in through the first seven games of the season.
Splitting carries with redshirt junior running back Mike Weber, who leads the team averaging 5.4 yards per carry, sophomore J.K. Dobbins is in a rough stretch in terms of success in the ground game.
Despite scoring two touchdowns in this span, Dobbins has averaged fewer than four yards per carry in the past four games, recording only 24 yards on 11 rushes against the Boilermakers on Saturday. The 2.2 yards per rush against Purdue was the lowest average he has had in a single game in his collegiate career.
The sophomore running back had been targeted in the passing game more, recording a season-high four receptions for 34 yards.
The offense is changing and Dobbins seems to be adapting, but the integral part of his game, the part that brought him to Ohio State in the first place and shined in his freshman season, has not been there through the past four games.
Defensive line showed signs of life early
The Purdue offense foreshadowed success against Ohio State in the very first play of the game when redshirt senior quarterback David Blough hit freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore for 23 yards, a connection that would be made 11 more times that game.
However, the defensive line, knowing it would be without junior All-American defensive end Nick Bosa for the rest of the campaign, seemed to step up in the pass rush after that play.
With sophomore Chase Young and junior Jonathon Cooper on either end, Ohio State forced Blough to five straight incompletions. Before Blough hit sophomore wide receiver Jared Sparks for a 16-yard gain in the third drive, the Boilermakers could not move against the Ohio State defensive line.
However, as redshirt senior running back D.J. Knox began to get going, rushing for 128 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, the Ohio State defensive line struggled, recording three of the seven team tackles for loss, with Young and Cooper combining for one sack.
The defensive line showed signs of life, but showed a lack of consistency, allowing for Knox to find holes and for Blough to find time to hit Moore and other targets in the passing game.
Stopping receivers like Rondale Moore
Ohio State does not have to face Moore every week.
In Saturday’s game, Moore recorded 170 yards and two touchdowns on 12 catches. Blough had an obvious game plan, targeting the freshman receiver 18 times in the passing game compared to targeting Sparks five times, the second-most on the team.
Moore’s attributes are the Ohio State secondary’s worst nightmare, showcasing an ability to get open and out-running every member of the secondary in open space.
Junior safety Jordan Fuller did not have much to say in terms of Moore’s success, saying the freshman was a good player and that he has a “bright future.”
However, this shows a playbook of how opponents beat the Ohio State defense: using quick receivers to get open in short-yardage situations and use their speed to outrun safeties and corners.
What Moore did was expected looking at what he did in the past for Purdue. Ohio State was still not able to stop it.