Naveau: Ohio State will win, but will it excel?

Published 2:59 pm Friday, September 8, 2023


Ohio State’s football home opener against Youngstown State today appears to be just what the Buckeyes
If it’s not, it might be time to worry.
Ohio State’s 23-3 win at Indiana last week was not as alarming as the most pessimistic OSU fans
thought it was. But it was a game in which the defense exceeded expectations in most areas and the
offense fell short of them.
Ohio State and Youngstown State have played each other only twice before this year, in 2007 and 2008.
In 2007, OSU won 38-6 with Todd Boeckman throwing for 225 yards and two touchdowns in his first
start at quarterback. The next year, OSU scored the first six times it had the ball and won 43-0.
An outcome similar to those games could be an indicator that Ohio State is on the right track and that
the Indiana game was an aberration. A much closer score would say there are problems that won’t be
easily solved.
Youngstown State is the only FCS school on Ohio State’s schedule. YSU was predicted to finish sixth in
the 12-team Missouri Valley Football Conference. It had 10 early signees last December for its 2023
recruiting class – one 3-star recruit, one 2-star recruit and eight who were unranked.
Obviously, Ohio State has much more talent on its roster than Youngstown State does. Obviously,
winning this game is Ohio State’s No. 1 goal. But this game also could provide a chance for Ohio State to
get some things done that weren’t done last week at Indiana.
First on that list would be getting improvement on the offensive line, which has three new starters this

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The most glaring negative statistic for the Buckeyes last week was converting on only two of 12 third-
down opportunities.

The overall run statistics weren’t great, either. And other than a 19-yard run by TreVeyon Henderson
and a 17-yard run by Chip Trayanum, OSU’s running backs rarely got to the second level of Indiana’s
Ohio State did not allow a sack but starter Kyle McCord appeared to be feeling some pressure on
several throws.
A close second on that list would be finding more clarity on the quarterback situation.
McCord will be the starter for a second game in a row this week and it probably would not be a surprise
if he continues to start all season. But, assuming Ohio State takes care of business on the scoreboard,
freshman Devin Brown might play significant minutes against Youngstown State.
McCord (20 of 33 for 239 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception against Indiana) has an edge in
experience over Brown. As a stay in the pocket passer, he also might be a better fit for Day’s offense than
Brown, who is more of a dual threat quarterback.
A third thing OSU might get done is to learn more about some young players other than Brown or some
back-up players.
If the game turns out to be like the two past OSU-YSU games, some of them should get quite a bit of
playing time.
It’s one thing to play well in practice or a scrimmage. But not everyone can take that to the field when
it’s time for the kickoff and the stadium is full.
The prediction: Ohio State 42, Youngstown State 0.