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Minnich’s Musings about Ohio State at Indiana

Sloppier than expected, but Ohio State starts the 2023 season 1-0

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

The point I am trying to make is going on the road, at a B1G opponent, with inexperienced players at quarterback and offensive line, will probably result in some sloppiness. The NFL has preseason games to work its kinks out; College football does not.” ~ 09/01/2023

For the record, I did predict sloppiness, although I did not expect it to be that sloppy. The new offensive line protected Kyle McCord relatively well, as there were no sacks by the Indiana defense, but the offensive line was often blown up on crucial third and fourth downs, resulting in five tackles for loss by the Hoosiers against the Buckeyes.

Kyle McCord was okay in his first road start. McCord finished 20-of-33 for 239 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. Thankfully for Ohio State, the interception did not prove too costly, as the Hoosiers were able to drive down the field and get a field goal on the board for themselves. Those three points would be all that Indiana would be able to muster against Ohio State in the 2023 season opener.

Personally, I believe McCord should have run for the first down after Chip Trayanum was knocked down on the play, instead of forcing the pass over the middle to Cade Stover that resulted in the pick. Perhaps Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis will tell him something similar in what will probably be a heavily scrutinized film review.

As for when Devin Brown was inserted, I disagreed with putting Brown in for the series immediately after McCord threw the interception. It could have impacted McCord’s confidence. Unfortunately, Brown was unable to get anything going offensively, as he was the victim of one of those aforementioned tackles for loss that ended an Ohio State drive.

I wrote about this during the offseason, and lamented this fact quite often last year on numerous episodes of The Silver Bullet Podcast — if you are an Ohio State fan frustrated with the performances of Kyle McCord or Devin Brown versus Indiana, this is a direct result of not playing them more often during the 2022 season. One can only hope that Day has learned, or is learning, from that decision.

Trayanum was probably the best offensive player in the Indiana victory. Trayanum carried the ball eight times for 57 yards, had one reception for 12 yards, and was a key blocker for Miyan Williams on the goal line. It was encouraging to see Trayanum used in a variety of ways.

The heavy emphasis upon Stover as a receiver (five receptions for 98 yards), as well as the abundance of two tight end sets, the use of the I-formation with Trayanum and Williams, and the number of times where McCord was directly under center gives me the strong impression that the coaching staff is still uncertain about the pass protection skills of the offensive line. Like McCord’s decision making on the interception, the offensive line will be put through the ringer in the film evaluations.

Davison Igbinosun’s aggressiveness may need to be toned down. The pass interference call against Indiana did not result in any points, but that style of play could be detrimental against some of the upcoming opponents.

I happened to see a few of the true freshmen on the field, among them Arvell Reese on special teams, Carnell Tate at wide receiver, and Malik Hartford at safety. Hartford had a key tackle that prevented Indiana from getting a first down. I would be surprised if Hartford does not have some well-deserved Buckeye stickers on his helmet after this game.

Jayden Fielding was solid in his first game handling the kicking duties. While we would all prefer touchdowns versus field goals, Fielding’s 11 points from extra points and field goals were crucial.

The defense was pretty stout. Only three points on the scoreboard, 71 yards rushing total, only 82 yards passing given up. The critics will point out how this was against Indiana, which is a valid point, but remember Ohio State was able to keep the Hoosiers off the scoreboard the entire second half.

The next two games, versus Youngstown State and Western Kentucky, will provide opportunities for improvement across the board — quarterback play, offensive line in both running and pass protection, pass rush by the defensive line, special teams kick coverage. The sloppy play, the fact that this will be the 2023 Ohio State home opener, plus Youngstown State’s 52-10 win over Valparaiso, the coaching staff will have plenty of tools at their disposal to motivate Ohio State to perform better than they did against Indiana.