COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s offense was not supposed to look like this.
Not after offseason coaching changes brought in an offensive coordinator with a golden resume and a quarterback coach with NFL experience.
Not with a fifth-year quarterback who twice has won all-conference honors.
Not with a supporting class consisting of some of the most highly recruited players in the country.
Ohio State’s offense was supposed to be crisp and dynamic and explosive. It was supposed to look, well, like Oklahoma’s did in the Sooners’ 31-16 victory at Ohio Stadium on Saturday night.
It was anything but. The running game was effective enough when the Buckeyes stuck with it, which wasn’t often. But the passing game looks painfully familiar.
Except for one spectacular catch by Austin Mack, the deep game was nonexistent. Oklahoma, like Indiana in the opener, dropped into zone coverage and dared J.T. Barrett and his receivers to find seams. It was a sound strategy.
Barrett and his receivers still lack consistent timing, and unlike Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, he doesn’t have the arm strength — or perhaps the confidence — to zing balls into contested areas.
The result was an offense that one person described as, in the following order: out of rhythm, out of sync, out of sorts, very disjointed, out of whack and very stagnant.
That person is offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. Head coach Urban Meyer hired him to work the magic he did as the coordinator at Northwestern and Oklahoma and head coach at Indiana. Players raved about the difference that Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day were going to make.
It hasn’t translated into games yet.
"It’s not one thing," Meyer said. "It’s several things. I have some ideas that we’re going to work on as a staff. I’m not going to share that right now."
Asked about the play-calling, he replied, "I wasn’t happy with it."
Meyer said he hasn’t lost faith in Barrett. He dismissed a question about whether he might contemplate a quarterback change with a simple, "No."
Wilson also defended Barrett.
"I think we have to put him in better situations," Wilson said. "He’s been great his whole career and has been, to me, outstanding in the preseason."
Wilson credited the Sooners for excellent game-planning, and Oklahoma did seem a step ahead of the Buckeyes schematically. The quick-tempo game, a hallmark of Wilson’s and Day’s, was ineffective.
"Even the times we tried to go fast, there wasn’t a lot to it," Wilson said. "We have to work at that to find the sequence of plays to get us in flow.
"We own it. I own it. A very, very poor job. (We have) a lot of work to do, but not radical work. We’ve got a bunch of great players and had a great preseason. We’re going to get it back on track."
Barrett said he is still working on his timing with his receivers.
"When they play that drop coverage, you have to make sure you trust (receivers) and can’t be late," he said. "The interception, I was late."
He was referring to being picked off after Ohio State fell behind 24-13 early in the fourth quarter. He hesitated to throw to Johnnie Dixon, allowing Parnell Motley to break on the ball.
Other times, the Buckeyes barely missed making pivotal plays. Barrett had K.J. Hill open in the back of the end zone but floated the ball just off his fingertips. Terry McLaurin had a step on an Oklahoma defender on a deep ball, but his hands didn’t meet the ball.
"Inches," Barrett said.
The season is two games old. The Buckeyes rebounded from a second-week loss in 2014 to Virginia Tech to win a national title.
"It’s a long, long season," Meyer said.
If the passing game doesn’t get fixed, it certainly will be.