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Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud Credits His Faith, Teammates For Lifting Him Out Of Early Struggles

The redshirt freshman has thrown 14 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his last three starts.

The early season struggles must feel like a distant memory for Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who was once again impressive in Saturday night’s 54-7 win at Indiana.

In fact, the redshirt freshman from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has thrown 14 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in the Buckeyes’ last three games, a significant improvement from the eight touchdowns and three interceptions he threw in his first three starts.

Now, whether Stroud’s improved play is a product of him being completely healthy or if something else just clicked, we’ll never know. But he credited this faith and those close to him for carrying him through that difficult time.

“I was kind of down in the dumps earlier this season, and my teammates just lifted me up,” Stroud said after the game. “Like before every drive, Jeremy (Ruckert) tells me, ‘Just do you. That’s what got you here, so just keep doing you.’ I just appreciate being around great people.

“We have great people in the building like (former wide receiver) Roy Hall, who come in there and give us just straight wisdom and talk about God and Jesus Christ, and those are just things that help me keep going. That’s a big part of the reason we’re elevating, not only myself but as a team, is just the many great people we have in our building.”

Ohio State’s offense isn’t just steadily elevating, though – it’s been practically unstoppable since Stroud returned to action after sitting out the win over Akron in order to rest his injured right shoulder.

The Buckeyes had actually scored on 21 straight possessions with him under center – including touchdowns on all but one of those possessions – before the Hoosiers forced a three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half.

“It starts with the protection, and it starts with the trust with the guys who catch it,” head coach Ryan Day said. “But he’s got a lot of confidence right now, and that’s a good thing.

“You certainly see things out there that excite you, but it’s everybody. When something doesn’t go well, it’s like, ‘What went wrong?’ Well, it’s kind of a little bit of everything. When things go well, it’s a little bit of everything, as well. But he does have the talent to make those throws and if he continues to prepare the way he is and show toughness, we’ll have a chance here as we make a run.”

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Day has talked a lot this fall about the criticism, praise and the roller coaster of emotions that comes with being the starting quarterback at a school like Ohio State. 

But Stroud has done his best to block out any outside noise – good or bad. And the more he continues to believe and trust in his talents, his teammates and his coaches to put him in a position to succeed, the better the Buckeyes’ offense will be.

“At the end of the day, if it isn’t God, my family or my teammates, I really couldn’t care less what people have to say,” Stroud said. “Of course, I appreciate Buckeye Nation. They’re awesome, but some of them are really critical. I like that. I comes with the job.

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“I’m blessed to even be at this university and blessed to even rep Ohio State. So, with all that stuff coming, I just lean on God, lean on my teammates and lean on my family, and everything will go well.”

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