Under Ryan Day, we have come to expect explosive, high-powered offenses fueled by an aerial assault which, until last season, was ranked among the leaders not only in the Big Ten, but in the nation. In 2018, when Day was the offensive coordinator of the Buckeyes, Dwayne Haskins had what many consider the greatest individual season throwing the ball in Ohio State football history. With only 14 starts, he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns completing 70% of his passes. Justin Fields arrived the following season and became one of the most revered quarterbacks in the team’s illustrious history. In only 22 games he amassed 5,373 yards passing and threw 63 touchdowns, not to mention 867 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. Fields was succeeded by Heisman hopeful CJ Stroud. He had a prolific two year stretch which saw him throw for 8,123 yards with 85 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. These three quarterbacks set a standard which was nearly impossible to follow, as Kyle McCord and the Buckeyes would find out in 2023.

The 2023 season opened with a ton of hype, and a lot of questions. The quarterback battle between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown began in spring ball, but continued, at least in theory, into the regular season. As Day would find out, he was going to have to win without a superstar quarterback. For the first time in his tenure with the Buckeyes, the team averaged less than 40 points per game. In fact, they struggled to get 30 points per game. Offensive production was down considerably, and Day’s vaunted offense had to depend more on the run game as a lack of production at quarterback and struggles across the offensive line somewhat grounded his high-flying attack. The Buckeyes closed out the season for the second consecutive year with a pair of losses to That Team Up North, and in their bowl games. Changes had to be made, and Day knew this.

Day hired Bill O’Brien, former Penn State head coach and Bill Belichick protégé, to come into to direct his offense. However, O’Brien was gone before he started. He accepted the top position at Boston College. Enter Chip Kelly. Kelly has a storied history with Day – coach, friend, mentor, Kelly has been all of these to Ryan. Kelly is also known as a top tier coach throughout the coaching ranks. He began his career at Columbia, was the Offensive Coordinator at New Hampshire, before becoming the guy at Oregon. After Oregon, Kelly went to the NFL where he coached with the Eagles and 49ers before returning to the college ranks as head coach at UCLA. Kelly’s resume is impressive. He has a record of 81-41 as a college head coach with Oregon and UCLA. He is known as an offensive guru of sorts and has created some of the best rushing attacks in college football. Chip Kelly’s offenses over the years have run the ball nearly 60% of the time, a number that stands out in the pass happy world of the Buckeyes. In six seasons at Oregon, Kelly’s offenses ranked in the top six in rushing yards per game in the nation. They were also ranked in the top seven for rushing yards per attempt during that stretch. Although Day’s offense has its origins in the Kelly’s system, their philosophical approach to offense is different. Day is all about throwing the ball, whereas Kelly is all about creative run schemes and moving the ball down field with the running game. So, that begs the question…what should we expect from the Buckeye offense in 2024?

This season has the potential for greatness. We have a defense that very well could be the best in the country. Our running back room is arguably the best in all of college football. We have some experience on the offensive line, and it should be better this year. And, as we did to start last season, we have a quarterback competition to see who is going to lead this team come the start of the season. Both transfer Will Howard and returning quarterback Devin Brown have talent, athleticism, and are saying everything you want to hear your leader say to start the season. However, given the fact that Howard is a transfer, and Brown has been injury prone, don’t be surprised if the Ohio State Buckeyes offense in 2024 looks a little different. This is a year where, without a legitimate Heisman candidate to start the season at quarterback, we could see a heavy dependence on Kelly’s run game. And why not? We have TreyVeon Henderson who went for over 1,200 yards as a freshman, fought injury in 2022 that limited him to 571 yards, but bounced back with a strong showing, despite some nagging injuries, rushing for 926 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Then you have the tough as nails Quinshon Judkins who transferred into Ohio State from Ole Miss this season after being dominant in the SEC the last two seasons going over 1,100 yards both years. Even our number three guy, Dallan Hayden is a stud running back. Hayden has averaged 5.0 yards or more per carry in his first two seasons. He was limited by injury and circumstance to only 19 carries last season, but as a true freshman, Hayden reeled of 553 yards and 5 touchdowns in limited action. This is an elite group, with an elite coach, and an offensive line that looked better in the run game than they did at times last season in pass protection. Given this, and the fact we have a new quarterback, and a dominant defense, I look for this to be a very balanced, if not run heavy offense this season.

So, what will the Ohio State offense look like this season? I believe it will be efficient. I think we will see a creative and dynamic run game supported by an opportunistic and at times explosive aerial attack. Given the extended playoff format and potential for extra games, I truly believe we could have two 1,000 yards rushers. I also don’t dismiss that with the talent we have at wide receiver. If one of these quarterbacks catches lightning in a bottle and gets the hot hand, I believe they have the talent to put up prolific numbers and we could see two 1,000-yard receivers. Though I think it is much more likely we see the multiple star rushers this season, one thing goes without saying…when I am asked what I expect from the Buckeyes offense in 2024, the answer is clear – excitement. This is going to be an entertaining team on both sides of the ball, and I honestly believe this will be Ryan Day’s year to finally beat That Team Up North, regain control of the Big Ten, and win a national title, and this offense will be an integral part of that.