Ohio State leaves some room for improvement

Published 11:01 pm Monday, September 4, 2023

By Jim Naveau


A grade card on Ohio State’s season-opening 23-3 win over Indiana, the 29th consecutive victory for the
Buckeye over the Hoosiers:
Inconsistent might be the best word to describe Ohio State’s offense against Indiana. Quarterback Kyle
McCord (20 of 33 for 239 yards, no touchdowns and one interception) was better in the second half than
he was in the first half but still needs to be better than he was on Saturday.
The absence of three offensive linemen who entered the NFL draft last spring — tackles Paris Johnson Jr.
and Dawand Jones and center Luke Wypler — was noticeable. Saying the offensive line appeared to still
be a work in progress would be one way to describe it.
Ohio State’s two touchdowns came on drives of more than 80 yards but it also converted only 2 of 12
third-down situations. The expectation was that the Buckeyes might put the offense in the hands of the
running game to take some pressure off McCord, but they gained only 143 yards on the ground.
Chip Trayanum (8 carries, 57 yards) led the running game. TreVeyon Henderson carried 12 times for 47
yards. But 19 of those yards came on one carry, meaning he found limited running room and averaged just
2.5 yards per carry on his other 11 attempts.
Tight end Cade Stover had a big day with five catches, including a 49-yard catch and run in the second
half and a 24-yard reception in the first half. Emeka Egbuka (three catches) and Marvin Harrison Jr. (two
catches) were unexpectedly not at the top of the pass catching stats. Harrison’s total was the fewest he has
caught in a game as a starter and Egbuka’s total was one above his career low as a starter.
The last time before Saturday OSU scored as few as 23 points against Indiana was in 1993 when it beat
the Hoosiers 23-17.
OSU held Indiana to 153 yards total offense. The Hoosiers did not reach 100 yards of total offense until
the final two minutes of the third quarter and were inside Ohio State’s 30-yard line only once in the game.
The Buckeyes’ defense handled a surprise without a problem when Indiana relied heavily on option
football on offense early in the game.
Another positive note for the defense was that the longest play it allowed was a 24-yard pass play.
Jayden Fielding was 3 for 3 on field goals, with the longest coming from 40 yards, and hit both of his
extra point kicks. Punter Jesse Mirco averaged 45.8 yards per punt. Fielding and Mirco each had a tackle,
which could be interpreted as a good thing or a not-so-good thing.

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Ohio State’s biggest questions going into its opener were its offensive line and its quarterback. Those are still its two biggest questions after playing a game. Whether those questions will be answered the in next
two games against Youngstown State and Western Kentucky is debatable. But a road game at Notre Dame in Week Four of the season could provide some clearer answers about the readiness of McCord and his