OSU steadily improving its ‘O’ balance

COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer and his fellow Ohio State coaches want the Buckeyes’ offense to be more balanced. Question is, how do you get it there?

For Meyer, whose team visits Michigan State on Saturday afternoon, it’s a matter of garnering input from a variety of sources and proceeding from there.

“Go back, look at what you’ve done,” Meyer said earlier this week as the Buckeyes began preparations for the Spartans. “And you have Ryan Day, Kevin Wilson, others from other styles of offenses, that we have that conversation and we go back and see the best red zone offenses in the country, you’re talking probably 40 hours of time into that.”

The Buckeyes (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) made great strides in curing its offensive ills in last week’s 36-31 victory against Nebraska. The Buckeyes rushed for 229 yards against the Huskers, marking the second-most in a game this season and the most since the opener against Oregon State.

J.K. Dobbins led the way with 163 yards on 23 carries. In the process, he surpassed the 2,000-yard mark, joining teammate Mike Weber in becoming the first teammates to have reached the plateau in school history. Ohio State is 8-0 when Dobbins runs for 100-plus yards. Weber added 91 yards on nine carries vs. the Cornhuskers.

Still, though, Ohio State’s rushing attack is lagging behind where in needs to be in Meyer’s estimation.

“We have a lot of respect for that team and they’re playing as good a defense as there is any in the country,” he said.

“Obviously, you’re facing the No. 1 rush defense in the country. But our offensive line played very well and our backs, that was their best pad level game, as far as dropping their pads and getting through those holes.”

Meyer said the offensive staff went back to more traditional running plays, rather than RPOs (run-pass options).

“That was part of the hours and hours and hours of how do we get those two guys involved in the game and let them drop their pads and go do what they do best, and that’s run the ball,” Meyer said. “The majority of (their carries) were direct handoffs.”

The success of the running game against Nebraska cut down on Dwayne Haskins’ numbers. But the quarterback still had a solid afternoon, going for 252 yards and two TD strikes. His 18 completions snapped J.T. Barrett’s single-season completion mark. Johnnie Dixon led the way with five receptions for 96 yards, while Parris Campbell had four for 31. Terry McLaurin was held without a catch for only the second time this season (Penn State).

The entire unit, Meyer said, will be tested by a MSU defense that’s improving weekly and always seems to play with an extra spark in East Lansing.

“Their defense hasn’t changed that much,” Meyer said.

“They’re doing a little bit different things this year. Well-coached defense, tough guys, defensive front is outstanding and their backers are outstanding.”