There’s a crisis in Columbus right now, and it’s centered around the Ohio State passing game. It’s metastasized to the point where Urban Meyer had to answer questions following last night’s 31-16 loss to No. 2 Oklahoma on if J.T. Barrett was still the No. 8 Buckeyes’ quarterback.
“I feel the same pressure as everyone here to get very good at the pass game,” Meyer said Saturday night. “We’ve worked extremely hard at it. It wasn’t good tonight. We got to get the damn thing fixed, and we will.”
Meyer assured the public that, yes, Barrett is Ohio State’s quarterback, but the numbers have been downright brutal. Through two games the Wichita Falls, Texas, native is 39-of-70 for 487 yards with three touchdowns and one interception; Barrett’s 55.7 percent completion rate ranks 93rd nationally, his 7.0 yards per attempt average is tied for 71st, and his 125.43 efficiency rating places 78th.
While none of that is good, it obscures the other, equally glaring crisis on the other side of the ball: Ohio State’s pass defense has been a complete catastrophe through two games.
The Buckeyes have defended 103 passes thrown against them thus far — fourth-most in college football, which should be telling in and of itself. Sixty-nine of those throws have been completed for 806 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. No team has yielded more than Ohio State’s 806 yards, and only six squads have surrendered more than Ohio State’s six touchdowns. (Hawaii has allowed eight passing touchdowns through three games.) Opponents are hitting 67.0 percent of their passes, 11th most nationally, for 7.8 yards per attempt.
As a whole, Ohio State rates 110th nationally in defensive pass efficiency, a far, far cry from the Buckeyes’ No. 3 rating last season.
There is one bit of good news coming, though. As Eleven Warriors points out, Ohio State’s numbers will certainly improve next week as Army comes to town, pitting FBS’s most porous pass defense against its least interested pass offense. The Black Knights have attempted all of 10 passes through two games, hitting two of them for 17 yards.