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It may not have been a clinic on how to start fast out of the gate for the Ohio State football team, especially entering halftime down to Minnesota, but the Buckeyes found their way in the second half.
There was big play after big play in the second 30 minutes, and it all resulted in the Buckeyes outscoring the Golden Gophers 35-17 en route to a 45-31 win in game No. 1 for 2021. But there were definitely some things to work on and take away from the contest.
After each Ohio State football game, we hand out grades and take a look at snap counts to reflect on what we watched after pouring back through game film. Let’s dive into all the fun of what we saw in the Twin Cities on Thursday night.
Ohio State Buckeyes top snap counts
Paris Johnson, Jr
Top Offensive PFF Grades
Dawand Jones | 94.4
Miyan Williams 80.9
Chris Olave | 80.6
Paris Johnson, Jr. | 77.1
TreVeyon Henderson | 74.9
Top Defensive PFF Grades
Zach Harrison | 90.0
Cody Simon | 81.3
Tyreke Smith | 78.8
Josh Proctor | 75.4
Tommy Eichenberg | 73.1
NEXT … Handing out grades
The Quarterback: C.J. Stroud
Sep 2, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) signals to a teammate during the first quarter against the Minnesota Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
Things were a little rough through the first half with Stroud overshooting open receivers and looking tentative. He found things a little better in the second half and became more of a distributor. It all ended with some pretty good numbers for a freshman's first game. But, he'll have to be better in the future.
The Running Backs
Ohio State Buckeyes running back Miyan Williams (28) scores a rushing touchdown against Minnesota Golden Gophers during the first quarter of their game in Huntington Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021.
It was a solid day for the running backs, and not shown here is TreVeyon Henderson's 70-yard touchdown reception where he showed burst and explosiveness. It was done by committee with almost every back having a bright spot in the game. We'll see how the touches and depth evolve through time.
The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Sep 2, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (2) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Minnesota Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
It was big play after big play in the passing game and a lot of it was done after the catch. Both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson showed their abilities in the open field to lead the way. We're including TreVeyon Henderson because of his 70-yard explosive reception that created a lot of momentum even though he's a running back. Expect more big plays from this group going forward.
The Offensive Line
Ohio State Buckeyes get ready to take the field to take on Minnesota Golden Gophers in Huntington Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
It was a really good day for the offensive line both in pass protection and run blocking. C.J. Stroud's misfires weren't a result of a ton of pressure but rather inaccuracy. Despite Minnesota trying to take the run game away, the line was still able to pave the way to a really good day from the running backs. Luke Wypler did well filling in for an unavailable Harry Miller at center. This looks like one of the best offensive lines in college football. Grade: A
The Defensive Line
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Haskell Garrett (92) and Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) come together to hit Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) after a pass during the third quarter of their game in Huntington Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
The defensive line is supposed to carry the defense this year, but there were a lot of mistakes to correct. Zach Harrison had a pretty good day, but Minnesota's rushing attack got into the second level far too often. The defense gave up over 200 yards rushing and that all starts up front. Also, there wasn't enough consistent pressure on quarterback Tanner Morgan. The bar is set high, and we expected a little more. Grade: C
Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Teradja Mitchell (3) and Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) tackle Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) during the third quarter of their game in Huntington Bank Stadium at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
At first thought the linebackers kind of bled into the game. A quick look at the stat sheet though says that three of the top four tacklers in the game were linebackers. It wasn't a bad showing by a young group, but simply making tackles isn't enough on this team. There needs to be more tackles for loss and impact plays in the future. Grade: B
Ohio State Buckeyes safety Josh Proctor (41) returns an interception against Minnesota Golden Gophers during the third quarter of their game in Huntington Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021. The play was called back after a late hit on the quarterback. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Everyone's eye was on the secondary because of the shortcomings last season. All in all, it was an average day. The completion percentage was a bit too high for a team that had its best receiver out of the game and there could have been some better play on 50/50 balls. It's a young unit though that should hopefully get better. Grade: C
Ohio State Buckeyes place kicker Noah Ruggles (95) makes a field goal against Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second quarter of their game in Huntington Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
It was a solid, not great day for the special teams unit. Noah Ruggles hit all of his extra points and went 1-for-1 on field goal opportunities. Aussie punter Jesse Mirco was also solid in his debut with no miscues. The only complaint is getting some explosive returns in there somewhere. That has been lacking for quite some time and it would add an element to this team that could flip the game on its end at times. Grade: B [vertical-gallery id=58243] [listicle id=58045] Contact/Follow us @BuckeyesWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Ohio State news, notes and opinion.