5 answers to key questions from Ohio State’s 49-21 win over Indiana

Credit: Andy Lyons

Credit: Andy Lyons

Ohio State football trailed its opener at Indiana at halftime, but the Buckeyes rallied for a 49-21 win.

Here’s a review of my five biggest pregame questions:

1. Will we see the confident, accurate J.T. Barrett of 2014, or the hesitant, more erratic version of the last two seasons?

A little bit of both.

Ohio State’s senior quarterback was accurate but still seemed hesitant to cut it loose early in the game. (A couple of drops didn’t help.)

As the game went on, things opened up for Barrett and the Buckeyes. He spread the ball around, finding 10 different receivers, and threw some darts over the middle that led to big gains thanks to yards after the catch.

2. Who steps up at receiver?

Early on, it was not hard to blame Barrett if he wasn’t trusting what he was seeing from his receivers.

Parris Campbell dropped a perfect pass in the end zone but came back to rip off a 74-yard touchdown that gave Ohio State the lead for good in the third quarter.

He finished as Barrett’s top target with 136 yards on six catches. He was targeted a team-high nine times.

Johnnie Dixon showed his big-play ability by sprinting through the defense for a 59-yard score, too.

😏 pic.twitter.com/Fu80rTEqDt— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) September 1, 2017

3. Will Ohio State have a big-play threat at running back?

Last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year Mike Weber sat out the game to rest a sore hamstring, and he might have gotten Wally Pipp’ed.

True freshman J.K. Dobbins earned the start and ran for 181 yards on 29 carries, breaking Maurice Clarett’s yardage record for a freshman in a season-opener. Dobbins averaged 6.2 yards per carry and displayed the ability to accelerate through the hole and make people miss.

He had runs of 24, 27 and 35 yards, leaving one to wonder if he might be the most dangerous back on the roster.

4. Speaking of big plays, what about the secondary?

New corners Denzel Ward, Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield had some ups and downs, especially in the first half, but mixing up coverages helped slow the Hoosiers in the second half and a pair of turnovers proved crucial.

Sheffield was the team’s leading tackler and deflected a pass to new starting safety Jordan Fuller, whose red zone interception prevented Indiana from taking a two-score lead in the second quarter.

Ward broke up five passes in a tough battle with Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs, who nonetheless had 11 catches for 149 yards. Ward also picked off a pass and showed why he was already getting some NFL draft buzz before the season.

5. How’s the kicking game?

So far, so good.

Sean Nuernberger made a pair of chip-shot field goals while freshman punter Drue Chrisman landed three of his six punts inside the Indiana 20-yard line.

Chrisman also had a 62-yarder in the first half.

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