COLUMBUS, Ohio — The missing posters were presumably rolling off the printing press by the time Ohio State noticed Curtis Samuel on Saturday.
The Buckeyes ran 18 offensive plays in the first quarter of their 38-17 win against Indiana, and exactly zero of those ended with the ball in the hands of their best offensive playmaker, the junior H-back from Brooklyn, N.Y. The Buckeyes deserve partial credit for attempting one pass in his direction on their second possession, but it fell to the ground incomplete.
Instead, it was primarily a steady diet of handoffs to running back Mike Weber and either designed runs or scrambles from quarterback J.T. Barrett. It wasn’t until Ohio State’s first play of the second quarter — its 19th of the game — that Barrett handed it to Samuel, who gained 2 yards. He then disappeared again as quickly as he came. The Buckeyes didn’t give it to him again on that drive and then went two more drives without involving Samuel.
It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that the Buckeyes went to Samuel, and they involved him heavily on a drive that ended with a touchdown from him that put them up 17-3.
|Quarter||Down-Distance||Type of play||Gain|
|2Q||1-G||Handoff||5 yds (TD)|
|2Q||1-G||Direct snap||1 yd|
Oddly enough, there was almost no involvement from him from that point on. He didn’t record a touch in the first or fourth quarters, although it’s worth noting that he was thrown at once in the first and had a carry negated early in the fourth because of an illegal formation penalty on Ohio State.
The Buckeyes didn’t come close to giving Samuel their desired total of 15-20 touches, something coach Urban Meyer attributed to the inconsistencies in the passing game that apparently threw the offense out of whack.
“It was just an awkward game,” he said. “It was one of those games, we’re one of those teams that we have to, you saw that last year, a big part of our passing game is execution of the deep ball.
“He had nine carries. That’s not enough.”
With road games at Wisconsin and Penn State coming up, Ohio State can’t afford to give only nine touches to someone who averaged more than nine yards per carry in this game. He’s shown over the course of the season that he deserves to have the ball in his hands, as his 8.2-yard average per carry is far and away the best among regular ballcarriers. By comparison, Weber averages 6.8 yards per carry and Barrett averages 4.9 yards per carry. Only Demario McCall, who has 20 carries to Samuel’s 50, comes close with a 7.2 mark.
In his postgame press conference, Meyer said going forward that he would try to get Samuel involved quicker. After a reporter noted that he’d only had one touch among OSU’s first 25 offensive plays and asked if that would change, Meyer smiled, and said the only thing he could.
“Yes, it’s duly noted,” he said. “Thank you.”