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Buckeye Offense Catching Defense Off Guard with Deep Ball Prowess
By Tony Gerdeman

The Ohio State passing game generated just four plays of 40 or more yards last season, and two of them came in the first week against a Bowling Green defense that finished No. 127 in the nation in pass efficiency defense.

To say that the Buckeyes struggled with the deep ball last year would be like saying boats struggle with flight.

There is always an emphasis on deep passing in this Ohio State offense, but it seems for the first time in a couple of years, that emphasis is actually paying off.

Earlier in the week, Urban Meyer said they were recently hitting the deep ball in practice better than they ever have. On Thursday, a few members of the Ohio State defense confirmed the news, and even admitted they've been impressed by what they've seen.

"Just the big plays they’ve been getting on us," said defensive end Nick Bosa. "Last year we dominated every practice and this year they’re competing."

The difference between the passing game then and now has been how much better the quarterbacks are at throwing the deep ball.

"Really well, really accurate," Bosa said. "I see J.T. (Barrett) making a bunch of plays, which I love to see."

Bosa isn't the only Barrett fan in the front four, as senior Jalyn Holmes was almost happy to admit how good the passing game is looking right now.

"I can tell it’s a different swagger with them," Holmes said of the offense. "They walk differently. It’s just Coach Wilson doing his thing over there. I feel like J.T.’s always been J.T. to me, I have never seen anything bad with him. He’s finally in his groove – not finally, he’s always been in his groove to me, but he’s in his groove right now and it’s looking good."

Of course, the duality of one side of the ball playing well means that the other side of the ball could be playing better. Every big play by the Ohio State offense is a big play given up by the Ohio State defense. The good news for both sides of the ball, however, is that there is still plenty of time to get even better.

"Yeah, there have been some plays," defensive line coach Larry Johnson admitted. "We’ve probably given up seven, eight, nine big plays so far. Long passes. Which is good, it’s okay, we’ve just got to get it fixed. We’ve just got to get it fixed. It’s spring football and that’s why you can fix it. It doesn’t hurt us right now."

Player profiles relevant to story:
11 - Holmes, Jalyn | 97 - Bosa, Nick | Coach - Johnson, Larry
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