After each Ohio State game during the 2022 football season, LGHL will offer its market analysis of the Buckeyes’ performance. Using a standard bond rating system, we’ll evaluate the offense, the defense, and the special teams, according to this formula:
AA: Very Strong
BB: Facing Major Uncertainty
Then, we’ll take a look at any individual players whose performance stood out (in one way or another!) and assign them a stock rating: Blue Chip, Solid Performance, Penny Stock (akin to a junk bond, dangerously high risk).
Last week’s wind, rain, and Northwestern defense had us worried about the state of the Ohio State offense. C.J. Stroud was off, the run game stalled, and the offensive line couldn’t move people out. What a difference a week makes! Against Indiana yesterday the OSU offense racked up 662 yards, 27 first downs, and 56 points, moving the ball easily on the ground and through the air.
Once again, the Buckeyes got off to a slow start, going three and out on their first drive. But the Bucks came back strong and scored touchdowns on their next three series, essentially determining the outcome in the first quarter.
Stroud still wasn’t at his best. He made a few bad throws and tossed a couple that he probably shouldn’t have. His career as a running QB seems to have been short-lived, as he “rushed” for eight yards on four attempts.
The Buckeye defense was stout throughout the game and was able to dial up the pressure on IU’s quarterbacks whenever it wanted to. Indiana really had only one good series (out of 16 possessions), a 75-yard scoring drive at the end of the first quarter. Other than that, it was pretty much nada, with the odd, nice play or two.
All in all, it was a dominant performance for the Buckeyes, and, at the moment, it doesn’t matter to me whether the Bucks are peaking or whether the competition was simply awful. I’ll take this win.
Overall rating: AA Very Strong
I’m sure that there will be quibblers who will find some faults in the Buckeye offense. I mentioned Stroud, for instance. He completed only 61% of his passes, a bit below his season average. But he still threw for nearly 300 yards and completed five TD passes to four different receivers.
The OSU running game was the best that I’ve seen in quite a while. Until his injury in the second quarter, Miyan Williams was a star, gaining 147 yards on his 15 carries. Freshman Dallan Hayden took up where Williams left off and gained over a hundred yards himself. And there were big running plays, too. Hayden’s long run was 20. Williams had a 48-yarder. And Xavier Johnson moved to running back from wide receiver and took off for 71 yards and a TD on his only carry. 340 net rushing yards, with a 7.9 yards per carry average. Awesome!
The Buckeyes had 15 possessions and recorded touchdowns on eight of them, albeit getting a lot of help on one drive from a blocked punt that gave the Bucks the ball at the Indiana 2. OSU probably could have opened the game up even more; seemingly, the Hoosiers had no answer for anything that the Buckeyes did.
Overall rating: A Strong
I was tempted to give the defense the same top score that the offense earned. As I said, IU had only one good drive and punted 12 times, collecting only 10 first downs along the way. They were 3-of-17 on third down attempts, 0-for-1 on fourth down attempts.
But there was that one drive. And there were missed tackles and blown pass coverage. For the second consecutive week, the Buckeye D got no takeaways. There are still problems in the secondary. Cam Brown and Jordan Hancock played most of the snaps at corner, and, to be honest, they often lost their men. It’s an area that needs to be firmed up – I know, it’s kind of a broken record.
Overall rating: BB Adequate
Had it not been for Lathan Ransom’s blocked punt in the third quarter, I’d have to rate the special teams' play even lower.
Punt returns? All season they’ve been a problem. Emeka Egbuka is a talented guy, and I always expect him to be able to return a kick for a TD (though he never does). But he’s not good as a punt returner. He’s muffed a few and therefore seems reluctant to field punts at all, usually letting them bounce and roll, losing 15 or 20 yards in the process. When the game got out of hand, the Bucks inserted receiver Reis Stocksdale to return punts. He fumbled both of his attempts, losing the second one to the Hoosiers, a turnover that led to their second touchdown.
You would think that with all of the receivers and defensive backs on the roster – all of whom probably returned kicks in high school – the Buckeyes could find someone to stand back there and field a fair catch cleanly. Other teams are able to do it without problems.
Jesse Mirco’s punting was OK (five for a 40.4 average) but not up to his performance last week. Noah Ruggles didn’t attempt a field goal, but he made all eight of his extra-point kicks.
Kam Babb. Number 0 gets his chance at last. After all that Kamryn Babb has been through (four ACL tears), he finally got on the field. And he caught an eight-yard TD pass from Stroud. It was truly heart-warming to see the love of his teammates. I hope that recruits were watching because this brotherhood is what it means to be a Buckeye.
Xavier Johnson. Here’s another unlikely hero. Johnson ran once for 71 yards, caught two passes for another 47, and played well on special teams. In fact, it was Johnson who recovered the blocked put at the Hoosier two-yard line. With the running back position somewhat depleted, we might be seeing more of X as an RB.
Miyan Williams. He played only a half, and we sure hope that his injury isn’t a serious one. But what a half! Averaging 9.8 yards a carry, Williams gained 147 yards before his injury. My, my, he runs hard.
Marvin Harrison, Jr. The FOX announcers were certainly very keen on Harrison, Jr., and, as usual, he had a strong game. Although Stroud missed him a couple of times, Harrison, Jr. had seven receptions for a team-high 135 yards and a touchdown. His 58-yarder was the longest pass play of the day.
Lathan Ransom. It was a big day for the safety. He had nine total tackles, one and a half sacks, and a blocked punt. It really makes a difference when he’s on the field – and he’s usually on it.
Tommy Eichenberg. Aside from a few quarterback rushes, Indiana never got a running game going. And it was because of Eichenberg. He had seven total tackles, and three of them were for losses.
Steele Chambers. Fast? You betcha. Chambers had ten tackles for the game, a half a sack, and a tackle for a loss. He makes up ground so quickly.
Jack Sawyer. There were a couple of Hoosier possessions in the second half that Sawyer thwarted almost by himself. He finished the game with a sack and a half for his three tackles.
Dallan Hayden. Hayden was the second Buckeye runner to gain over 100 yards in the game. Once Williams was out, Hayden became the workhorse and carried the ball 19 times for 102 yards. He also scored the Buckeyes’ second TD with a 14-yard run.
Cade Stover. I love watching Stover run after a catch. And – I wouldn’t want to have to try to bring him down. Always giving total effort, Stover caught three passes for 45 yards and two touchdowns.
C.J. Stroud. As I said, it wasn’t one of Stroud’s best games. But 300 yards and five TD passes certainly qualify for “solid.”
Reis Stocksdale. Didn’t see all that much of Stocksdale in the game, but his two attempts to catch punts were more than enough. The Buckeyes likely had him out there to get some experience, but it looked like he needed more time in practice before he was game ready.
Julian Fleming. I’ve long been a Fleming fan and have written columns about how highly I think of him, but for the second week in a row, he’s dropping passes. Yesterday he was targeted five times but caught only two passes for 24 yards. His ratio was even worse last week. We know that he has the talent to be a difference-maker on offense, so here’s to hoping that he tightens things up for the stretch run of the season.
Injuries continue to mount, especially, of course, at running back. Ryan Day, when asked about the situation, boasted about the Buckeyes’ depth. We’ll see. But it sure would be better to get everyone healthy and on the field for the November 26 showdown. 10-0 and on the way!