Ohio State Football sits at 6-0 at the halfway point of the regular season. Already having beaten two top-15 opponents, including Penn State, the Buckeyes are in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten East and control their own destiny for the College Football Playoff.
With six games down and another six to go before the conference championship game and bowl season, which units have performed at the highest level, and which could still use some work if Ohio State wishes to secure a National Championship?
It would be hard to ask any more of first-year starter Dwayne Haskins, who has more than exceeded expectations in replacing J.T. Barrett. Haskins has completed over 71 percent of his passes thus far, throwing for over 1,900 yards with 25 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He leads the Big Ten Conference in nearly every statistical category, including completions, passing yards, and passing efficiency, while his 25 TD passes are the most in the NCAA.
Running Back: A
Ohio State has had much success in the ground game this season, alternating between running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Dobbins has 462 yards on a 4.7 yard-per-carry average with four TD runs and one receiving. Weber has 420 yards on a 5.7 yard-per-carry average with three TD runs and one receiving. The only reason the Buckeye backfield did not receive an A+ grade is the fact that they have lacked some of the explosive plays we have seen in years past, with the two combining for only one rush over 25 yards.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A+
Another unit that could not do much more if they tried is the deep and talented group of OSU wide receivers. The Buckeyes have eight different players with receiving touchdowns, not including the two by the running backs. Outside of a few notable drops by Austin Mack against TCU, the unit has shown extremely steady hands and the ability to get open deep down field while executing on the short routes and screen passes as well. Also of note has been the receivers’ ability to block, which has seen great improvement from years past.
Offensive Line: B
Overall, the Ohio State offensive line has been solid, especially in pass protection, as Haskins has been sacked just five times this season. However, where they have lacked a little bit is in run blocking. While Dobbins and Weber are more than capable of continuing to make plays even despite subpar blocking, a big reason for the lack of explosive run plays this year has been poor blocking. This issue really came to light against Indiana, where the Buckeyes failed multiple times to get a first down running the ball on third and one.
Defensive Line: A+
Had Nick Bosa not gone down with a groin injury, the Buckeyes may have the best defensive line in the country. However, even despite the loss of one of the best players in college football, the Ohio State front has been impeccable. Guys like Chase Young and Dre’Mont Jones have really stepped up in Bosa’s absence, the duo combining for 8.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. If Bosa is able to return sometime in November, the rest of the FBS will have to be on notice.
Perhaps the most lacking unit on Ohio State’s entire roster, the play at linebacker has just not been up to par. Throughout the year, the Buckeyes LBs have taken bad routes to the ball and missed tackles, resulting in a run defense that ranks 68th in the country. In years past, units that have struggled early on have been able to develop and turn things around, which we have yet to see from this group of guys. If a National Championship is in store for this team, OSU linebackers will have to make significant strides in the right direction.
Defensive Backs: B-
Much like the linebackers, Ohio State’s corners and safeties have not been at the level expected of an elite defense. When it comes to safeties, Jordan Fuller has been solid, but both Jahsen Wint and Isaiah Pryor have been just okay at his side. The cornerback play has actually been pretty good when it comes to coverage, but the unit as a whole has received a ton of penalties in the form of defensive holding and pass interference. The Buckeyes have the talent on the roster to compete at a high level when it comes to pass coverage, they just need a bit more discipline and development as the year progresses.
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