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What's Next for Ohio State Following Disappointing Loss to Oklahoma?

J.T. Barrett

J.T. Barrett

Oklahoma upset Ohio State 31-16 on Saturday night, and it could have been much, much worse.  The Sooners lost two fumbles that ended drives, and missed a field goal, but otherwise pretty much had their way with the Buckeyes all game, amassing 490 yards of total offense on the road.

After this article was published, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield apologized for planting the Oklahoma flag on the Ohio State field...

All is not lost for the Buckeyes' 2017 season, as this was game two, meaning there are still 10 games left in the regular season alone. Former Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry tweeted out this nugget of information that Ohio State fans could try to find some measure of optimism with:

The reality is Ohio State had its worst home loss since 1999, when the Buckeyes were crushed by Illinois, 46-20. While respecting Perry's experience and optimism, there are several areas that need to be addressed for Ohio State to get back into the discussion of college football's elite teams.

1. Ohio State's passing game needs lots of work

The calls for the benching of senior quarterback J.T. Barrett are at a fever pitch right now, with Barrett only completing 19 of 35 attempts for 183 yards and an interception. While Barrett excels at the zone-read aspect of the offense, and has been fine with short to intermediate passing routes, Barrett has struggled to complete any deep passes this season. Barrett also has been hesitant to throw at all, unless the wide receivers are open.

While Barrett is a popular target of the critics, the Buckeyes’ wide receivers are not absolved of any responsibility. In two games, Barrett has had two deep touchdown passes dropped. As has already been mentioned, receivers are not getting open, as both Indiana and Oklahoma played zone coverages that are contributing to the inefficiencies of the passing offense.

2. Ohio State’s secondary is under siege

In two games, the Buckeyes rank dead last in the nation in pass defense, having already surrendered 806 yards through the air. Upcoming opponents will continue to test the young Ohio State secondary, until changes in scheme or personnel take hold and this group performs better.

3. Ohio State’s coaching staff needs to adjust

If there was a consistent theme of optimism by Buckeye fans, it was the arrival of Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day as offensive assistants to improve an offense that had become stagnant and predictable during the 2015-16 seasons. Two games into this season, however, and Ohio State fans are grumbling that the changes are not noticeable. A case in point is that J.T. Barrett carried the ball more against Oklahoma than either J.K. Dobbins or Mike Weber, which was a critique from previous seasons.

Is it time to hit the panic button in Columbus? No, as Ohio State has two home games against Army and UNLV that will allow the team the opportunity to focus on fixing many of the issues that are plaguing the Buckeyes. However, should Ohio State enter October with a still-struggling passing offense, a secondary that is easily targeted, and a coaching staff overly reliant upon quarterback runs, then you might need to get in line to hit that panic button before the Buckeyes get into the heart of their Big Ten schedule.

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is writing and podcasting for Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.