5. Haskins will let it rip
The Bucks struggled to get into rhythm early last week against the Nittany Lions. The offense was sluggish early and didn’t get kick started until later in the game following some key stops courtesy of the defense. The first drive consisted of zero hand off plays as it seemed they were trying to get Dwayne Haskins going early.
The play calling was odd and looked out of place compared to how the offense has been run all season. The play calling looked rather familiar as it seemed to be the closed handed approach ran with former quarterback J.T. Barrett in the past. However, it should be noted that this means more short routes to get the ball out quick rather than quarterback runs.
In past years, quarterbacks dominated the run game in this match up for both sides but everyone knew it would be different this time around. Haskins attempted to run just four times as Penn State’s Trace McSorley led his team by a large margin with 25 carries for 175 yards. Getting the entire offense involved was key in the Buckeyes’ success.
It’s fair to think that Urban Meyer may have had a much larger influence in the play calling in this game than originally thought. It was believed that Meyer would take a step back in the play calling duties because of how good the offense looked with Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day running the show in his absence.
Haskins didn’t even attempt one deep throw the entire game. The Buckeyes were very fortunate that J.K. Dobbins was still able to find room to run later in the game. It was clear that the Buckeyes were not intending on passing the ball down the field so it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the Lions stack the box even more.
It was puzzling how the Buckeyes’ offense was suddenly inept in moving the ball and finding space as they so easily did in the games prior. However, a good amount of the offense’s struggles did begin with Haskins. He struggled with inaccuracy all night with several passes going almost directly to the Nittany Lions’ defenders.
Although, the Nittany Lions did have the 11th best passing defense in the nation leading up to this game. It was questionable before the game whether their defense was truly authentic given the strength of their opponents prior to this match up. Their competency was apparent throughout most of the game.
The Hoosiers aren’t that bad, defensively. They rank 19th in total defense on the season. However, last week the Spartans’ offense scored 35 points on them and they’re ranked a mere 79th in the country in total offense. This is exemplary of the type of competition the Hoosiers have faced so far this season.
The Buckeyes should be able to get right back on track with their passing offense against what should be a softer Hoosiers lineup. It’s likely they’ll be able to open it up quite a bit more with considerably less pressure at home. Expect Haskins and the offense to turn up the heat on Saturday to get the offense back to their scoring ways.