Ohio State vs. Iowa: Will Buckeyes throw the ball downfield early?

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: J.T. Barrett
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: J.T. Barrett /
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What will the Ohio State aerial attack look like versus Iowa?

Will the downfield throw be featured in the Ohio State passing attack early in the game against Iowa? Or will it be used sparingly until crunch time as was the case versus Penn State?

Against the Nittany Lions, screens and short passes to the outside were the norm for much of the game. They proved to be as unsuccessful as they were against Clemson in the playoff last year and Oklahoma in week two.

Late in the game Ohio State offensive coordinator opened up the passing game and had JT Barrett throw the ball downfield and to receivers on crossing patterns. The result, the offense began to click and the Buckeyes stormed back from an 18 point deficit and won the game.

The side to side passing game is effective against most teams because the skill position players for Ohio State are much more talented than the defenders. But when facing  top-tier defenses, it just isn’t very effective if coach Wilson keeps going back to that well.

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When those defenses are expecting short passes on the edge, they put enough players close to the line to stop it. And those players have the ability to bring the Ohio State receiver to the ground.

When JT Barrett started slinging the ball downfield last Saturday, Penn State didn’t have an answer for it. KJ Hill caught 12 passes and Austin Mack had 6 receptions, and a few of those catches came in crucial situations.

Wide receiver Terry McLaurin had a couple of big receptions and Johnnie Dixon continued to prove to be a big play guy with two touchdown catches. Even TE Marcus Baugh came up big with the game winning TD reception.

After the Buckeyes had success throwing the ball downfield, even short passes to the edge opened up. The running game did as well.

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I would like to see more of the same versus Iowa, and in the remaining games the rest of the season. I just hope coach Wilson doesn’t wait for crunch time to employ the downfield passing attack but uses it early in the game.