It's time to begin the autopsy on a really disappointing College Football Playoff National Championship game performance from Ohio State. While the sun came up this morning, Buckeye Nation is awfully disappointed in last night's outcome and there's a good chance that most of you are dwelling on "what might have been" if Ohio State were at full strength.
Would it have made a difference last night? Possibly, but nobody really knows for sure. Alabama played the kind of game on Monday night that made you pick your jaw up off the floor.
Perhaps the most disappointing injury for Ohio State was to star running back Trey Sermon. After Sermon ran for 524 yards in the last two games (the most ever in a 2-game stretch in Buckeye history), Sermon played just two plays on Monday night. He took a hand off on the first play from scrimmage and it appeared he took a rather benign hit. The next play, he was the target of a screen pass in the flat on the right hand side and the pass fell harmlessly incomplete, but Sermon was never touched.
That was it.
Sermon came out of the game with a collarbone injury and was taken to a local hospital. It actually looked like the collarbone didn't bother him as much until the second play, even though the hit came the first play. Either way, Sermon's early exit definitely took some of the life out of the offense. With Miyan Williams unavailable for the game (presumably for CoVID, based on his tweet earlier in the week), that left Master Teague and Marcus Crowley to fill Sermon's role. Those guys aren't a liability for the Buckeyes and I thought they played fine, but to me, the story was more that Sermon never really had a chance to showcase himself on the national championship stage.
Then you go to the defensive line, where Jerron Cage got hurt in the second quarter. Cage was filling in for Tommy Togiai, who was listed on the unavailability report prior to the game. Ohio State got thin quickly on the line, and combined with the fact that Mac Jones seemed to get the ball out of his hand extremely fast on most of his dropbacks, it was hard to get the Alabama quarterback under pressure.
The hardest injury to watch last night came in the second half, when Wyatt Davis once again went down with an apparent knee injury. Davis wears braces on both of his knees, but Monday night was the third time this season that he had to be helped off the field. While the first two times didn't look so bad, Davis was in street clothes and on crutches on the sideline late in the game.
Justin Fields admitted he wasn't 100 percent healthy and couldn't practice early in the week because of his injured mid-section from the Clemson game. But he said postgame on Monday that he was healthy enough to play and was disappointed that he didn't play to the standard that he expects. He also took a couple shots to the hip last night. While that pain may have affected him some, I thought his game was unfortunately just a bit flat last night. Not having Sermon really hurt his chances to get going.
Certainly not the way the Buckeyes drew it up last night. Hopefully those guys will heal up soon as Ohio State fans wake up feeling a bit bruised this morning along with them.
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