Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: What was the single most promising aspect of Ohio State’s loss to Oregon?
Jami’s Take: The Receivers
I know any loss is a tough pill to swallow for Buckeye fans - it doesn’t happen often and we’re not used to the sour feeling of defeat. But this loss against Oregon wasn’t a total wash in spite of the outcome - there were still some bright spots to prove there are things to look forward to this season, and the brightest was OSU’s receiving corps.
As a collective, the receivers are an elite bunch, arguably the best in the nation. And though the game didn’t end in victory, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba came ready to play Saturday.
All three of them delivered. Olave had 12 receptions for 126 yards, Wilson had 8 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps most impressively, Njigba made himself a household name with 7 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first time in Ohio State history that three receivers had more than 100 yards in a single game.
Had this group of guys not been on that field, it’s hard to imagine Ohio State even being in contention against Oregon. I’m also firmly in the camp that Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell led with his helmet and should have been charged with targeting against Olave, a flag which would have resulted in a first down on third-and-20 for the Buckeyes and given them a chance to tie the game on that drive. It would have also allowed the receivers to put up even bigger numbers.
We knew going into Saturday’s game how special Olave and Wilson are. But perhaps most impressive was sophomore Smith-Njigba. In Week 1 against Minnesota, Smith-Njigba had two receptions for 12 yards. This week, he lit up. He was expected to be a weapon this season after his strong showing in spring and summer camps, and this weekend he proved exactly what he can do.
His ability to separate himself, particularly at the line of scrimmage, is impressive and it rounded out an already-powerful receiving corps, making this group a nightmare for opposing defenses. Olave and Wilson are both projected to be first-round prospects in the NFL Draft, and Smith-Njigba is quickly joining their ranks as someone to watch.
All three receivers have really special playmaking ability, and as the season progresses, I anticipate it will only get better. Quarterback C.J. Stroud is still settling in, and once he finds his groove, he’s going to be able to fire on all cylinders with these three.
The receiving corps was not the only silver lining of Saturday’s messy game. Stroud put up near-record numbers with 454 yards. Running back TreVeyon Henderson, though his numbers were average, gave us glimpses of his potential that make me excited to see where the season will take him.
However, none of these silver linings outweigh how brightly this receiving corps shone on Saturday in spite of the loss. The defense needs to drastically improve across the board. We will need to see much higher numbers in the running game. We can’t afford costly turnovers from Stroud. Even Olave dropped what should have been a touchdown pass.
But overall, the receiving corps is setting the bar, and if the rest of the team can rise to their level, even with the loss, this should be a fun season for the Buckeyes.
Matt’s Take: TreVeyon Henderson is RB1
Jami, of course, is not wrong to praise the Ohio State wide receivers, especially with the emergence of Jaxson Smith-Njigba, not only as a talented up-and-comer who has the ability to show flashes of greatness, but as a legitimately great wide receiver.
Though it came in a loss, JSN’s break out game is as impressive as any in recent memory. But, here’s the thing, if my esteemed colleague had just gone with Smith-Njigba, I probably would have found it difficult to argue with her (I still would have found a way, don’t worry), but since she decided upon the wide receivers collectively, I have notes.
While C.J. Stroud was far from perfect, neither were his pass catchers. There were anywhere from five to eight drops (depending on how harshly you want to grace the WRs) that you would expect to be caught by talents as good as Ohio State has. There were also times when it appeared that receivers might have misjudged balls and either gave up too early on them or mistimed a jump. So, while having three receivers go over 100 yards is obviously impressive and deserving of celebration, I’ve got a much more exciting option for your consideration.
As Chris Renne discussed in his film review linked above, the Buckeyes abandoned the run far too easily against the Ducks, rendering them effectively one dimensional for most of the game. However, there is something that I found to be very interesting in the ground game on Saturday that I think bodes very well for the future of the OSU offense.
In total against Oregon, the starting RB Miyan Williams had 14 carries for 77 yards, while his back-up TreVeyon Henderson had 12 attempts for 54 yards and 1 touchdown. Not a spectacular day for either, obviously.
But, what is eye brow-raising is that 11 of Williams’ carries came in the first half and he had zero in the entire third quarter, while 10 of Henderson’s carries came after halftime. Again, neither were especially effective on the ground against the Ducks, but the fact that Henderson received 77% of the running back carries in the second half of an important game that saw Ohio State trailing almost from the jump is noteworthy.
We have all known that Henderson was the most talented back in the Buckeyes’ impressive stable, but we also assumed that it would take him time to prove to the coaches that he could be trusted with the bulk of the work.
Well, given how piss-poor things looked in the last game, and how Ryan Day and company have no room for error for the rest of the season, it is time for the best guys to get on the field, and that is absolutely Henderson, and it seems like Day gets that.
Williams — and even Master Teague and Marcus Crowley — should still have spots in the rotation as situations dictate, but at this point in the year, there should be no excuse for Henderson not to be the bell cow back, and based on how things went down the stretch on Saturday, I absolutely expect him to be just that for the remainder of his time in Columbus.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: The Receivers
Matt: TreVeyon Henderson is RB1