No Ohio State Buckeyes coach or player will point a finger at anyone else in the program when it comes to the 31-16 loss Saturday to Oklahoma. Urban Meyer has trained them too well for that — Ezekiel Elliott’s outburst after the loss to Michigan State in 2015 being a rare exception.
“This is not the first time we’ve had a tough loss,” Meyer said Monday. “Fortunately we haven’t had too many. But you know me. The ‘B’ word doesn’t come out. We’re not blaming anybody.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, however, had no trouble criticizing himself for the offense’s problems.
“I’ve got to do a better job through practice, organization and game calling to put our kids in better places,” Wilson said Wednesday, “and I was awful Saturday.”
In his first two games at Ohio State, Wilson’s offense has produced 20 solid minutes. It played well in the final quarter and a half of the Indiana game, scoring touchdowns on five of its last six drives.
Slow starts have hurt the Buckeyes, who started the season with a field goal and three punts in Bloomington, Ind. They had four possessions in the first half of their home opener, not counting a one-play drive in the final seconds of the half, and produced one field goal and three punts.
Ohio State has scored three points in the first quarters of its first two games. It has looked like a team trying to find an identity under its third offensive coordinator in four seasons.
The goal Saturday against Army, Wilson said, will be to “gain some confidence, gain some momentum and efficiency as an offense instead of being all over the place. So far I’ve been a little all over.”
Ohio State fans might see redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins debut Saturday but only if Ohio State has a big lead. Redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow, who broke his hand in August, is probable, Meyer said. This is still J.T. Barrett’s team, and he’ll get his opportunity to get the offense back on track.
Center Billy Price, a fifth-year senior like Barrett, defended Barrett on Tuesday.
“The kid’s put more records into the Ohio State record book than any other quarterback,” Price said. ” J.T. and I have been through so much. That’s my guy. I’ve been through five years of summer conditioning, winter conditioning, me throwing up on the field, him breaking his ankle. We’ve been through a lot. I don’t think there’s any chance that there needs to be a quarterback change.”
Barrett has completed 39 of 70 passes (55.7 percent) in the first two games with three touchdown passes and one interception. He has averaged 243.5 yards per game. After the loss, Barrett has been his typical self in practice, Wilson said.
“He’s always been a great practice player in my time around him,” Wilson said. “He’s very business-like, like he’s always been. Bottom line, it’s my responsibility to put it together in a structured practice and in the flow of the game to give him a chance. … He’s going to look good in the day when we, starting with me, do the job and get it going. That’s every quarterback. They get all the credit. They get all the blame. You’ve heard those lines, but it is true. He’s not a one-man (team). He’s a phenomenal manager, and it’s my job to get us in a position where he can be the player he is. We’re going to work hard to get it back on track.”