On a perpetually rainy and misty afternoon, Ohio State defeated Purdue, 41-7. Purdue had its occasional moments where it appeared that the Boilermakers were going to be able to score, but the Ohio State defense would rise up to the occasion, and thwart those plans.
Here are some thoughts I have about Ohio State’s win over Purdue, and what it could mean with the big game at Penn State looming next week...
1) The Ohio State Defense Is Solid
The skepticism about Jim Knowles coming into the 2023 season was warranted, but Knowles seems to have learned from his overly aggressive style that hurt Ohio State last season against Michigan and Georgia. Yes, I know Purdue is not a great offensive threat, the Boilermakers missed three field goals and the weather certainly impacted the Boilermakers, but Ohio State only gave up seven points.
The defensive line was able to come up with 3 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, and 5 passes defended. Penn State is a better offensive team than Purdue, but the Ohio State defense has to be feeling more confident than they were at the end of last season.
2) Is Dallan Hayden The Answer To Ohio State’s Running Woes?
I certainly understood the intention to redshirt Dallan Hayden for this season, but Hayden’s performance against Purdue has to make the coaches wonder if he should be getting more playing time at running back. Hayden may not be as fast as TreVeyon Henderson, or as physical as Chip Trayanum or Miyan Williams, but Hayden is the most decisive of the running backs and makes yards when given the ball. It makes me wonder if Hayden is going to get opportunities against Penn State next week.
3) Xavier Johnson’s Versatility
As soon as the news broke about the injuries at the running back position, combined with Emeka Egbuka’s absence, I was happy to be rewarded with the usage of Xavier Johnson in this game. “The X Man” gives Ohio State options at both running back and receiver, and could be a match-up problem for upcoming Ohio State opponents.
4) The Offensive Line Was Better
I am not saying that they are a good offensive line, but I will say that they played better. Again, Purdue is not a great opponent, but the offensive line needed to show improvement, and they did. I believe Coach Frye simplified the offensive line blocking scheme, and the running game looked better today than they have the previous weeks of this 2023 season.
The looming test against Penn State is going to demand the offensive line protect Kyle McCord, while also giving the Ohio State running back lanes to run through for positive yardage. Maybe I am being overly complimentary, but this performance by the offensive line on the road was markedly better than last week against Maryland at home.
5) “Put Me In, Coach”
Thank you, Coach Day, for playing the backups late in the contest, and letting them do more than just hand the ball off on offense. Yes, I know that Carnell Tate’s play was necessitated by Emeka Egbuka’s absence, but it was still good to see Tate haul in a long pass of 55 yards. Even more impressive to me was the insertion of Brandon Inniss, who made his first reception a memorable one, with a 58-yard touchdown reception.
I would have liked to have seen freshman quarterback Lincoln Kienholz get the last series of the game, but I also will concede that backup quarterback Devin Brown needs game reps.
Perhaps I am in the minority of Ohio State fans, but I did not mind the Peacock broadcast. I did not want to jinx it during the broadcast, but Peacock did not show any of the annoying Dr. Pepper “Fansville” commercials, instead concentrating on annoying Geico commercials.
For those of you who purchased Peacock for this game, just a gentle reminder — there is always a possibility that Ohio State could wind up on the platform again this season, with the games at Wisconsin, at Rutgers, and Minnesota still unaccounted for with the respective TV networks. You may want to hold onto your Peacock account for the month before you delete it.