By Emmett Golden
This Saturday afternoon The Ohio State Buckeyes face Michigan State. After four games MSU has the number one ranked defense in college football only giving up 172 yards of offense per game. OSU’s offense is averaging 340 yards per game, but that stat is deceiving, as the Buckeyes have yet to play a defense the caliber of Michigan State‘s.
Ohio State has run the ball very well to start the season. Junior running back Jordan Hall along with freshman QB Braxton Miller are two of the most explosive players you will find running the football, but there is no question Michigan State will be ready for the Buckeyes run game.
If the OSU offense wants to be successful on Saturday their passing game must be effective. With a young quarterback and a flock of young receivers you expect there to be some growing pains. Receiver Devier Posey’s return from suspension will add some veteran leadership in the passing game.
Right now there is only one guy that can provide that, junior tight end Jake Stoneburner. Stoneburner started the year on fire. He had three touchdowns in the first game against Akron and followed that up by getting in the end zone against Toledo the following week. The main element to Jake’s success was Joe Bauserman. When Bauserman was getting the majority of snaps at quarterback Stoneburner had 93 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. When head coach Luke Fickell turned to Miller late in the Miami game Stoneburner disappeared.
Over the last two games Jake has not had a catch. This is inexcusable. Stoneburner has the skills to be a dangerous pass catching tight end. Has he disappeared because Miller is not looking for him? Is Stoneburner unhappy about the move at quarterback, and if so, is it affecting his play? I don’t know what the problem is to be honest with you. What I do know is that when Stoneburner is utilized in the passing game this team is better. Whether it’s Braxton staying in the pocket a little longer or Jake running a little harder, they must get on the same page.
If Ohio State wants to be in the Big Ten Championship game at the end of the year, they need EVERYONE to make an impact. Braxton needs to grab Jake and get on the same page. The team will be better for it.
Follow Emmett Golden on twitter at @EGoldie80