That’s more like it from the Ohio State offense. After putting up just 21 points against Notre Dame last Saturday, C.J. Stroud and his wide receiving corps lit it up and put up a bushel of points and yards against the Red Wolves in a 45-12 win.
Now, it wasn’t a coaching clinic by any means — there are plenty of things to clean up — but it should calm at least some of the whispers and negativity coming from the national media about the Buckeyes’ offensive showing in the first game of the season.
There are plenty of observations and takeaways from this one, and we get paid to bring them to you, so it’s time to earn the paycheck. Here are five things we think we learned about Ohio State’s showing against the Arkansas State Red Wolves Saturday afternoon.
That's more like it from C.J. Stroud
Meanwhile, in Columbus, C.J. Stroud is throwing dimes 👀🚨 pic.twitter.com/HX2i3euBYZ
— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) September 10, 2022
Last week, the national media and opposing fanbases were ready to jump all over C.J. Stroud for having an “average” week against Notre Dame. He still tossed two touchdown passes and completed over 70% of his passes, but lacked the big play we’ve grown accustomed to.
Stroud passed for 351 yards and threw four touchdown passes to have a so-called bounce-back day Saturday. There’s really not much to criticize despite the level of competition. If Bryce Young can get praised for his work against a cupcake in Week 1, Stroud gets the same, or should.
Meanwhile on defense
Arkansas State has officially scored more points against Ohio State's defense than Notre Dame.
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 10, 2022
The defense didn’t look horrible against Arkansas State, but for anyone that thought this unit was simply going to show like a dominant force each and every week as a finished product, it might be time to realize that there’s still work to be done.
There were too many wins for the Red Wolves out in space on this one, and that won’t likely sit well with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. Not only that, but Arkansas State was able to get some things cooking through the air in 1:1 machups. With an aggressive defense like what OSU is rolling out there this year, those plays have to be made more often than what we saw today.
Not bad today, but not great either.
The young receivers are breaking out
— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) September 10, 2022
With Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming out with injury, someone had to step up on the outside. Color me unsurprised that Marvin Harrison Jr showed us what he’s made of with one whale of a day, but Emeka Egbuka also got his number called often. And when it was called, he more than answered the bell.
Both guys went for over 100 yards through the air, with Harrison Jr leading everyone with 184. As a reminder, both of those guys will be back next year, and the experience they are getting now will be invaluable when the receiving corps gets more healthy.
Denzel Burke will have better days
Champ Flemings cooks Denzel Burke pic.twitter.com/y2HSltZfRU
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) September 10, 2022
I’ll be the last one to express too much concern from what we saw from cornerback Denzel Burke today, but if it becomes a trend, maybe we start to wonder what’s going on.
Burke had a couple of early pass interference calls to keep drives going for Arkansas State, and got beat deep on the above play as well. He’s usually about as lockdown as you can be, and there’s going to be more 1:1 matchups against him going forward because of how the Buckeyes’ defense attacks downhill.
He’ll need to be much better against better competition, and I suspect he will be.
The penalties and mistakes have to get better
Arkansas State makes a FG after a drive where Ohio State’s penalties out gained the Red Wolves’ offense. 7-3 Buckeyes.
— The Silver Bulletin (@tSilverBulletin) September 10, 2022
You can sort of get away with it against the caliber of team we saw today, but if you think penalty issues and mental mistakes won’t matter in the win/loss column against more superior teams, think again.
The Buckeyes committed nine penalties for 85-yards, some at very inopportune times to extend drives for Arkansas State, while killing scores and drives on offense. There was also a muffed punt and some misassignments on defense.
Ryan Day clearly wasn’t happy with the penalties and mistakes in an interview heading into halftime, and you can almost bet on it being a point of emphasis this week in prepping for Toledo.
Let us know your thoughts, and comment on this story below. Join the conversation today.