Ohio State began the season 1-0 after defeating Indiana on Saturday, albeit not quite in the fashion that many imagined. The Buckeyes really struggled to move the ball on offense thanks largely in part to poor play-calling and shaky offensive line play, but the defense shined as they kept Indiana out of the end zone in a 23-3 victory. Now, Ryan Day’s group returns home, where they will play their first non-conference matchup of the season against Youngstown State. The Penguins also began the new campaign 1-0, defeating Valparaiso 52-10 in their opener.
The Youngstown State rushing attack looked strong in the opener against Valparaiso. Tyshon King led the way with 11 touches for 111 yards and two touchdowns as seven different players recorded carries in the game for the Penguins, totaling 303 rushing yards and four TDs as a unit. The passing attack was not as potent, but still efficient. Quarterback Mitch Davidson threw for 130 yards and a TD while completing 11 of his 19 pass attempts. C.J. Charleston hauled in the long score through the air, as he and Bryce Oliver combined for nine receptions for 112 yards. YSU was clean with the football, avoiding any turnovers.
Defensively, Youngstown State was led by linebacker Alex Howard, who tallied nine total tackles to go along with three tackles for loss and two sacks. The Penguins recorded five sacks as a whole, and forced a pair of fumbles. Elsewhere, YSU returns defensive back Jordan Trowers, who tied for the team lead in tackles a year ago while finishing second in pass breakups. Up front, senior defensive lineman Dylan Wudke anchors the group after leading the Penguins last season with 12 TFLs and five sacks. Youngstown State also blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown, and they will look to have more special teams success against Ohio State’s terrible special teams coordinator, Parker Fleming.
Ohio State, meanwhile, returns home after a lackluster offensive performance in the 23-3 win over Indiana in the season opener. Ryan Day’s offensive play-calling is once again being called into question, as the Buckeyes looked stiff and predictable on that side of the ball despite all of the skill talent at their disposal. Day’s commitment to calling stretch runs to the boundary left Ohio State just 2-of-12 on third down, and the reluctance to use the team’s best players saw Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka combine for just five catches for 34 yards. It was an inexcusable game plan from the head coach, and one that cannot be repeated if the Buckeyes are to defeat the better teams on their schedule.
Defensively, Jim Knowles’ unit looked very strong. The Hoosiers attempted to confuse the Ohio State defense by coming out in a triple-option offense, but the Silver Bullets were up to the task as they held Indiana to just 71 yards rushing on 33 attempts (2.2 yards per carry). Tom Allen’s group did not attack much through the air, but when they did guys like Denzel Burke and Davison Igbinosun made some nice plays. Sonny Styles was another huge bright spot for this defense, as he was flying all over the field. The only downside of this group was getting to the quarterback, as Larry Johnson’s unit managed just one sack in the game, which came in garbage time.
We likely won’t learn a whole lot more about Ohio State against an FCS opponent, but if nothing else it will provide an opportunity for improved play-calling and should open the door for both quarterbacks to play — if that is what Day wants or chooses. Maybe Marvin Harrison Jr. will actually get the ball thrown his way this time, too! The defense will get a chance to flex its muscles yet again, and we should see more personnel rotation at all three levels if the game gets out of hand relatively early.