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As we do every week, we asked Buckeye fans for their thoughts following the big Week 1 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It was a somewhat surprising game as the OSU offense was stymied for much of the first half, but was carried by the running game after halftime.
However, the real story was how the defense practically shut down the Domers’ offense, especially in the second half. So, check out how your fellow Buckeye brethren are feeling about the team and their season heading into Week 2’s game against Arkansas State.
Question 1: How did you feel about Ohio State’s 21-10 victory over Notre Dame?
I think that this is the correct answer here. Was I anticipating a more impressive performance by the Buckeyes? Yes, yes I was. But if there was one thing that I am decidedly not worried about with this team, it is offensive production. So I would definitely not classify my feelings about the Notre Dame game as disappointment in the offense.
However, the defense was revelatory against the Fighting Irish. I knew that they would be better than they were in 2020 and 2021 — how could they not be? — and we’ve seen dramatic defensive turnarounds based solely on a new defensive coordinator in recent OSU history. When Jeff Hafley came to Columbus as the Buckeyes’ DC in 2019, he turned what was the 71st-ranked defense in 2018 into the best defense in terms of total yards allowed in 2019.
Despite that history and Jim Knowles’ resume of turning out great defenses, I still wasn’t sure exactly how stout they would be, especially given all of the schematic changes that he would be implementing. And while it was only one week, I have to say, I am ready to convert to the cult of Knowles, because that was an incredible performance and I can’t wait to see what they are able to do as they get more comfortable with the changes throughout the season.
Question 2: Did the Notre Dame game change your expectations for Ohio State’s season?
I don’t think that my expectations changed, because I picked them to win the national title, and I still think that they will. But I am perhaps a bit more confident about their ability to do so having seen the defensive performance against a solid — but not spectacular — Notre Dame offense.
Again, I have no doubt that once quarterback C.J. Stroud and his new stable of wide receivers are able to establish a rapport between them, the passing game will return to the record-breaking heights that we have seen in recent seasons. Factor in an offensive line that seemed to gel before our very eyes throughout the season-opening victory, and I am pumped about the Buckeyes’ ability to have a more balanced offensive attack that is able to keep opposing defenses on their heals.
Question 3: Who impressed you the most in the Notre Dame game?
In this week’s “You’re Nuts” column, I argued for punter Jesse Mirco as the most impressive “under-the-radar” player from the Notre Dame win, and while that was slightly for the laughs, I do think that his performance was a pleasant surprise and something that will be valuable in crucial moments for OSU throughout the season.
However, the obvious answer here is Michael Hall Jr. He came in as a highly rated defensive recruit — No. 53 in the country in 2021 — but he was overshadowed by his two top-five linemates in that class in Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau. So, despite being a super-high four-star recruit, he was able to maintain a low profile heading into his second season in Columbus; not anymore though.
Hall announced himself as a force to be reckoned with against the Irish, and pairing him with Sawyer, Tuimoloau, Taron Vincent, Zach Harrison, Tyleik Williams, and Javontae Jean-Baptist in the defensive line rotation promises to be an exciting group for Larry Johnson.
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