If Ohio State fans needed a sigh of relief, they surely got one this afternoon from the Horseshoe. Having already outdone their point total from last week against Indiana (23) in the first half versus Youngstown State (28), the Buckeyes started to click offensively.
Kyle McCord was given the nod once again to start, and the results paid off with 14 completions on 20 passing attempts for 258 passing yards and three touchdowns on the day before head coach Ryan Day subbed him out for Devin Brown in the third quarter. While it was against an FCS opponent, every rep and snap matters, as Notre Dame in Week 4 inches closer. We’re two weeks into the quarterback battle, and it appears that McCord has earned the right to start full-time moving forward.
Meanwhile, the running game found more success punching it into the endzone. TreVeon Henderson proved his explosive running style to be worthwhile, nabbing two touchdowns and 56 rushing yards on the ground. A much-needed performance for someone who struggled to stay healthy the majority of last season, and it must feel good to finally have Henderson back in form.
Miyan Williams and Chip Trayanum got some run too, checking into the game in the third quarter and carving out yardage in mop-up duty. Like with the receivers, it’s reassuring to know any one of these backs can step up in a big way.
That being said, the receiving core stole the show, with Marvin Harrison Jr. topping it off with seven receptions for 160 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Emeka Egbuka also had himself a day, raking in five receptions for 94 receiving yards and a touchdown. Carnell Tate and Julian Fleming, although not as flashy on the stat sheet, both showed good things when targeted.
It may ultimately depend on each given week and the matchup who pops off, but there is no shortage of great weapons that can catch balls. Nonetheless, it’s encouraging to have your best receivers come through after an underwhelming performance in Bloomington.
We can’t talk about the offense without ever mentioning the offensive line as well. Today marked some progress made in the right direction, but still far from where it needs to be. In the first half alone, OSU was guilty of several penalties. They also gave up two sacks to a lesser opponent, with tackles Josh Simmons and Josh Fryar getting beat on the edge.
This line seems to do better blocking inside than on the outside. The total amount of rushing yards this afternoon reflects such. There’s still plenty of time before they head to South Bend in two weeks, but a lot remains to clean up in the trenches.
Despite giving up a touchdown on the first drive with the first-team defense on the field, which wasn’t ideal, that was all she wrote on the scoreboard from there on out for Youngstown State. Once again, OSU came up clutch defensively, only allowing a total of 241 yards of offense. No individual running back or wide receiver came close to reaching 100 yards either. Overall, it was another strong outing for the Silver Bullets.
Linebackers and defensive backs looked promising, coming up with an interception, a turnover on downs, and seven three and outs. Tommy Eichenberg, Davison Igbinosun, Sonny Styles, Steele Chambers, Denzel Burke, Michael Hall Jr., and Tyleik Williams were just a small handful of players who stood out.
The defensive line, while still getting decent pressure, only came up with two sacks. A times, it felt like they weren’t present. This is a very deep defensive line in terms of depth, so if there starts to be more chaos ensuing in the backfield and sacks/blown-up plays as we get deeper into the season, this could be an extremely dangerous unit all around.
The special teams unit boasted of no complaints, and that is a good sign. Not a single punt return given up was particularly long, and every field goal/point after attempt was successfully converted by Jayden Fielding.
Winning by 28 points is always a good thing, although there were more points left on the board. Perhaps this had more to do with swapping quarterbacks and Devin Brown’s playing time, resulting in just one scoring drive and a turnover on downs near the goal line. Otherwise, it was a much-improved follow-up game to what we all saw in Week 1.
There’s still a lot of room for improvement, so good thing they have another tune-up game next week versus Western Kentucky — a 4:00 p.m. kickoff on FOX.