COLUMBUS, Ohio — Late in the first half against Oklahoma, the whistle blew and J.T. Barrett’s teammates looked for an explanation.
The Buckeyes had just been whistled for a delay of game, pushing them back 5 yards and turning a manageable situation into a more difficult one.
“One time we were messed up and guys were looking at me like, ‘Why didn’t you call timeout?’ ” Barrett said Wednesday. “I was like, ‘Guys, we don’t have any.’ ”
That situation was already not ideal, but it was made worse by the fact that it’s not even clear which instance Barrett was referencing. That exact scenario happened twice during Ohio State’s win over Oklahoma, although the Buckeyes’ dominant start ensured that it didn’t impact the result of the game.
The Buckeyes used all three timeouts just 4 minutes into the second quarter, stopping twice to mull over fourth-down calls (one on offense and one on defense) and another time because they couldn’t get set in time on the first play of a drive. That left the Buckeyes with no margin for error the rest of the half, and the crowd at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium did its best to make the visitors’ task difficult.
Just 2 minutes after using its third timeout to prevent a delay of game, Ohio State sent receiver Parris Campbell into motion with 5 seconds left on the play clock. He didn’t make it over and get set by the time the clock expired, preventing Barrett from having a chance to get off a snap.
With 4 minutes left in the first half, tight end Marcus Baugh shifted from the right to left side with about 2 seconds on the play clock and never had a prayer of getting set in time. That came immediately after Barrett tried to change the protection with about 6 seconds left but had to walk up to the line of scrimmage so his offensive linemen could hear him.
Barrett and H-back Curtis Samuel both attributed the miscues to inexperience combined with the road environment, which was the first such atmosphere for many of the team’s new starters.
“It was our first big away game, and I feel like most of the guys who were out there at receiver, including myself, we haven’t really been in that situation before,” Samuel said. “It was kind of new to us, so we had to really settle our nerves down to really understand what the play is and where to line up.”
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer added his own take during his weekly radio show Thursday, saying that he thinks not getting in plays quickly enough from the sideline to the players left the Buckeyes with too little time to make adjustments or go into motion.
“We had two missed calls from the sideline to our players and weren’t able to fix it,” Meyer said. “One, we used up all our timeouts and had to take a 5-yard penalty, and the other time, because of noise, it was a communication issue. When you motion and shift, you better get the play in early and fast because you’ve got to get them set.”
Ohio State is in an advantageous position to fix it for a number of reasons, however. The Buckeyes are currently in the middle of a bye week, giving them a chance to go over fundamental concerns instead of scheming for a specific opponent. Also, they’ll have two home games against Rutgers and Indiana to smooth out any procedural issues before traveling to Wisconsin and Penn State.
Unlike in 2014, when Ohio State struggled against Penn State in its first big road test, the Buckeyes will be able to draw on their experiences against Oklahoma to better prepare for trips to two stadiums — Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium and Penn State’s Beaver Stadium — regarded by many as tough to play in.
“We played well enough to win, but there are a lot of things we didn’t do great, which are all fixable,” Meyer said. “Effort and toughness, those things aren’t fixable and mean you have a bad team. That was not the issue. Mechanics of the offense, that’s all coaching issues that we have to deal better with and bring the young guys up (to speed), and we will.”
Ohio State pre-snap issues against Oklahoma
11:04/2Q: Ohio State calls its third and final timeout on the first play of its drive to prevent a delay of game. It remains first-and-10.
8:45/2Q: Ohio State called for delay of game. Second-and-4 turns into second-and-9, and Ohio State eventually punts.
4:12/2Q: Ohio State called for delay of game. First-and-10 turns into first-and-15, but Samuel runs for 18 yards on the next play and the Buckeyes eventually score on the drive.