Each and every week throughout the season, Ohio State names the player of the game within each of the three units — offense, defense and special teams. Sometimes these are a tough choice, as multiple players put in a performance that has a huge impact on the game. This week, however, the choices were pretty obvious, as a few guys were clear standouts in the Buckeyes’ 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
The Offensive Player of the Game was a no-brainer, as sophomore Justin Fields earned the honor in his very first game at Ohio State. The transfer QB was impressive right out of the gate, rushing for a 51-yard touchdown on the team’s very first drive of the game. He finished the day completing 18-of-25 passes for 234 yards and four TDs through the air, adding 61 yards and the score on the ground. Fields showed out in his first game action, tying Dwayne Haskins’ school record with five total TDs in the first start for a quarterback at OSU.
Defensive Player of the Game had a few more options, with ultimately two guys sharing the honor in Chase Young and Malik Harrison. Young completely dominated at the line of scrimmage, finishing with 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup. The junior defensive end was a force in the backfield all game, making a much larger impact than even his impressive stat sheet would show. Harrison continued to be Ohio State’s best linebacker, racking up three tackles with two coming for a loss and a sack. The large and athletic senior laid the boom on more than a few occasions in the opener.
Special Teams Player of the Game also had a duo of guys take home the honor, one for their efforts in the return department and others on coverage. Demario McCall claimed one of the spots with a productive game, totaling 92 return yards, including an explosive opening kick return to start the team with good field position, as well as good ball security. Isaiah Pryor earned the other spot, starting on all four units with two tackles on punt returns, racking up what Ohio State calls 22 “production points.”
“It was a good day for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes opened the 2019 college football season with a 45-21 win against Florida Atlantic. But for two former Scarlet and Gray quarterbacks, things did not go as well as on the NFL’s roster deadline day.”
While current Buckeyes had a lot to be happy about after starting the 2019 season 1-0, former Ohio State players hoping to make NFL rosters did not have as great of a weekend. With the NFL regular season set to begin next weekend, the time has come to cut down the rosters to the 53-player limit set by the league. Unfortunately, some former Bucks did not make the cut with their new teams.
Two casualties of cut day included quarterback Cardale Jones and wide receiver Braxton Miller. Jones had actually had a pretty good preseason for the Los Angeles Chargers. Playing in all four preseason games, including one start, Jones competed 28-of-41 passes for 357 yards and a touchdown. However, it just wasn’t enough to earn one of the Chargers’ backup spots behind Phillip Rivers, occupied instead by Tyrod Taylor and rookie Easton Stick.
Miller, the converted quarterback turned wide receiver, signed with the Cleveland Browns after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles in mid-August. Miller played very sparingly for Cleveland in the preseason, catching just seven passes for 43 yards over the team’s four games. The performance would not be enough to secure a spot on the Browns roster, as he too did not make the cut.
On top of Jones and Miller, Terrelle Pryor, another former Buckeye quarterback-turned-wideout, was also let go by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday. It has been tough sledding for the 30-year-old wide receiver, who after posting a 1,000-yard season in 2016 for Cleveland has been diminished by injuries.
“Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson announced during his postgame press conference that Ohio State transfer quarterback Matthew Baldwin’s appeal for immediate eligibility was granted by the NCAA, giving TCU another potential passer to consider this fall.”
It wasn’t all bad news for former Ohio State players this past weekend. Former Buckeye Matthew Baldwin, who transferred after the addition of Justin Fields in the offseason, has been granted an immediate eligibility waiver at TCU. Baldwin was originally denied immediate eligibility at the beginning of August, but has since won his appeal, and can now battle for the Horned Frogs starting quarterback spot.
Baldwin redshirted his freshman year in Columbus, and had entered the spring as the most experienced QB in Ryan Day’s system. He had a very nice performance in Ohio State’s spring game, completing 20-of-36 passes for 246 yards in the scrimmage. However, with a knowledge that he probably would not beat out Justin Fields for the starting job, the Lake Travis product decided to transfer closer to home.
Baldwin was not the only Buckeye quarterback to transfer this offseason, as redshirt sophomore Tate Martell took his talents to South Beach, transferring to Miami in the summer. Martell has not yet done enough to earn the starting job for the Hurricanes, even lining up at wide receiver on a few occasions in the team’s opener.