Ohio State

Buckeyes looking to get run game off the ground

Mike Weber

Of the top ten teams in the country in passing yards per game, only two (Houston and Alabama) are also in the top 60 in rushing yards per game. Intuitively, this makes sense. If you’ve thrown the ball 343 times such as the second-ranked passing offense at Ohio State has, you have fewer opportunities to run.

However, the Buckeyes are also struggling with yards per carry (4.36), which is causing coach Urban Meyer to ponder other ways that depending so heavily on the throw might affect their ground game.

“It’s a matter of, you know, two things in my mind,” he said. “That’s, first of all, getting the players in the right position. Number two, being more physical and breaking tackles.”

However, knowing what position to be in when there is a chance you could throw or run the ball, as is the case with the run-pass option, has been a challenge for some OSU players.

“It’s hard,” offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said. He explained that when JT Barrett was quarterbacking the team, the line could safely anticipate they would keep the ball on the ground. But now?

“In this RPO world, it’s a different deal.”

“Obviously, when it’s an RPO, we don’t know the backfield action, because we’re blocking” agreed right tackle Isaiah Prince. “That’s just part of the game.”

Being more physical has been complicated by the reliance on quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ arm, too. There is apparently a mauler’s mentality that comes from running the ball that isn’t necessarily there otherwise.

“That’s a concern of mine,” Meyer conceded, “and that’s something we’ve addressed.”

Practices during the off week focused a lot on getting that edge back. Even wide receiver Johnnie Dixon noticed it.

“You see the scout linebackers coming down way harder than usual, just trying to give guys a better look,” he said. “It’s been a great two weeks, and you’ve seen guys, they seem more hungry.”

And while Meyer has hinted at schematic adjustments, wide receiver Terry McLaurin also thinks the biggest difference will be in the way the Buckeyes approach things.

“I don’t think we’ll be doing any new plays, or reverses, or things like that,” McLaurin said about their upcoming game against Nebraska. “I just think people will see just more sense of urgency in the run game in the sense of guys are really getting after it, finishing their blocks, finishing their runs, and just really trying to get our run game off the ground.”

(You can follow Lori Schmidt on Twitter @LoriSchmidt)

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