Ohio State came away with a win Saturday afternoon in The 'Shoe, behind a tremendous day in the run game and an improved defensive effort. Offensively, Ryan Day got back to the run game and allowed Tre’veyon Henderson show to come to life. His 277 yards are the most ever by a Buckeye freshman, eclipsing Archie Griffin’s 239 yards against North Carolina in 1972.
As far as how to interpret the following grades:
- A: National Championship-level play ... dominates the opponent and executes at the highest level.
- B: Big Ten Championship-level play ... consistently beats opponents, but leaves a few areas to grow.
- C: Bowl Eligble-level play ... does enough to win in a close game to just get bye. Needs to improve quickly.
- D: Home for the Holidays-level play ... Exposed multiple times and a major liability to the greater whole.
- F: Losing-level play ... unit was dominated in many facets of the game and is a major detriment to success. Major changes needed immediately.
If you missed our defensive grades, check those out here. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the grades and how the Buckeyes got to their three touchdown win on Saturday.
C.J. Stroud struggled early again. It looked like he lacked confidence and was stressing on throws that one would hope would be routine at this point. He was high again on throws and it begins to beg the question: are these nerves, fundamentals, or is his shoulder injury worse than he's letting on? The accuracy has been a continued area of concern and it is hamstringing Ryan Day’s ability to call both aspects of the Offense.
The explosion we have seen the previous two weeks in the second half never came to fruition and unfortunately, C.J.’s interception was his first, true poor decision at the position. There is a lot of room to grow. He wasn't the problem, but wasn't the solution on Saturday.
Offensive Line: B
The Buckeye offensive line had a tale of two games yesterday.
First, the potential loss of senior captain and “Block O” recipient Thayer Munford could be devastating. Munford has worked so hard and developed since his arrival in Columbus. He spent the second half in street clothes, but hopefully the future NFL Draft pick will be able to come back soon. Dawand Jones struggled in pass protection yesterday. He consistently yielded pressures and both sacks were partially on him. The fumble sack was not completely his fault, but in the slide protection he presented a grey window to freshman running back, TreVeyon Henderson. Henderson is responsible for the edge pressure, that eventually accounted for the sack.
However, Jones wielded back and placed the young back in a bind. The good thing, these are all coachable mistakes in a win. The good half, Matthew Jones came in for Munford and flashed at times. The Buckeyes road-graded to the tune of 323 yards and blocked for a historic freshman performance.
Running Backs: B+
Now wait a minute, did we not just watch the third greatest rushing performance in Buckeye history?! Yes, we did.
However, protection was an issue for this unit. The safety pressure that was alluded to earlier that resulted in a strip sack was a biproduct of the back not picking up the edge pressure. Ohio State was in a 6-man protection (five offensive lineman and one running back.) The offensive line slid to C.J. Stroud’s backside and the back was responsible for the +1 (anyone that added on away from the slide.) TreVeyon Henderson missed his assignment that resulted in a sack.
With that being said, Dawand Jones did not make the picture any easier by turning his back on the backside inside linebacker. This is correctable and once TreVeyon can be counted on in protection, he will be elite. He demonstrated that he is in a class of his own on Saturday and will be very fun to watch the next couple seasons in Columbus. It was great to see quality carries from Master Teague. He will be needed as the season goes on.
Tight Ends: B+
Kevin Wilson’s crew expanded and played a key role in the ground attack Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes utilized multiple 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) sets on Saturday to place stress on the nickel and dime (hybrid) players that Tulsa utilized in the 3-3 stack.
Where the Buckeyes really shined was in an unbalanced set that put four skill players on one side of the formation. This forced Tulsa to either make their cornerbacks or hybrids set the edge in the run game. This group was spectacular in their counter and counter-extra game, where they would utilize two or three pullers respectively.
Jeremy Ruckert did Jeremy Ruckert things. He caught a couple of passes and blocked through the echo of the whistle. Cade Stover is growing each week and is going to be a force. His catch and run through the defender was a statement that his training wheels are off. He also sifted (blocked a first and second-level defender) on the backside of TreVeyon Henderson’s 5-yard touchdown run with 8:44 to go in the first half, allowing him to walk into the Scarlet end zone.
Mitch Rossi and Gee Scott Jr. added value in the run and pass games respectively. This tight end room grows every single week.
Wide Receivers: B
Errant throws and an historic day on the ground cannot be held against this group. The wide receivers caught balls that were in their radius and took advantage of opportunities that may not have shown up in the stat sheet. Garrett Wilson had a monster day blocking, scooping out low safeties in the run game and had an outstanding 20-yard return on a punt.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba was again a staple on special teams and was able to haul in what was thrown to him. Chris Olave’s day was quiet: four targets and one good catch that was called back for an infraction. This unit played well and will not have to share 185 yards of reception yards very often this season.
Be sure to check out our new message boards, Buckeye Forums. We'd love to have you part of the conversation during the season.
You may also like:
Be sure to stay locked into BuckeyesNow all the time!
Join the BuckeyesNow community!
Subscribe to the BuckeyesNow YouTube channel
Follow Brendan on Twitter: @BrendanGulick22
Follow BuckeyesNow on Twitter: @BuckeyesNowSI
Like and follow BuckeyesNow on Facebook