After each Ohio state game during the 2021 football season, LGHL will offer its market analysis of the Buckeyes’ performance. Using a standard bond scoring system, we will rate offense, defense and special teams, according to this formula:
AA (yes, I can also use + and -): Very strong
BB: facing a major uncertainty
Next, we’ll take a look at the individual players whose performances stood out (one way or another!).
66 points. Almost 600 meters in total. No punt. The Ohio State offensive is rapidly evolving into an unstoppable force. Granted, the competition hasn’t been top notch, but things are going very well in a good way.
Maryland led (briefly) in this game, 3-0. Then the Terps reduced the lead to 11 when their second quarter touchdown made it 21-10. But the Bucks scored 35 unanswered points, and when Maryland next crossed the goal line they were down 56-10. It was that kind of game. It was over early, because the Buckeyes were totally dominating and playing almost perfectly. No turnovers. And only four penalties for 40 yards. Effective.
Where to start? With CJ Stroud, of course. The young quarterback picked up where he left off when he left the Rutgers match last week. Yesterday he pitched for 406 yards and five touchdowns. The line protected him beautifully, and he had plenty of time for any kind of pitch he wanted to make. Whether the Terrapins were in zone or in men, receivers Buck broke free and were open the whole game.
Freshman star running back TreVeyon Henderson started off slow. Fox advertisers said Henderson returned to earth after averaging ten yards per range. And, in fact, at the end of the first half, Henderson was just 17 rushing yards on nine carries for a pedestrian average of 1.9 yards per carry. By the end of the game, however, Henderson had gained 102 yards on his 16 carries for an average of 6.4 yards. (Yes, in the second half he gained 85 yards on seven carries – an average of 12.1! That’s more it.) The Bucks gained 166 rushing yards for the game and never really broke long runs. Henderson’s longest run was 17 yards, Teague’s 11.
OSU’s last practice of the match was the only series where the offense didn’t score (yes, I’m excluding the game where Stroud went to one knee at the end of the first half); and, to be fair, the Buckeyes were just running the clock at this point. Their other nine practices resulted in eight touchdowns and one field goal. Unstoppable.
Overall rating: AA + Very strong
After such good defensive performances against Akron and Rutgers, we were all disappointed to see Maryland take the kick off and run down the field to score. Still, on the crucial third and third plays, the OSU defensive line, led by Haskell Garrett, sacked Tauila Tagovailoa, and the Terps had to settle for a 48-yard field goal. Maryland would be forced to kick their next two possessions. The defense was back.
Defensive stats are a bit mixed. Maryland had 22 first downs, gained 279 yards in the air and had the ball for 34:44. All are too high. On the flip side, their total distance was only 334 yards, with many of them coming later in the game when saves were playing for Ohio State. The Terps converted just five of fifteen third down attempts and, after subtracting sacks (5) and negative scrambling yards, they had just 55 rushing yards.
Make no mistake: Tagovailoa is a good quarterback. He is agile enough to avoid a rush and can throw a good ball. But the Buckeyes were on him the whole game. Tirelessly. He didn’t have time to do long balls or keep track of his progress. Instead, he limited himself to screen games and passing in the apartment. He had to hurry many passes, and he threw two interceptions.
Overall, the defense played well, especially the starters. As the second half wore on, it seemed like there was a drop in the quality of OSU’s defense, with quite a few missed tackles and overtaking.
Overall rating: A Strong
Finally, something to say about the Buckeyes special teams. It didn’t quite happen, but Emeka Egbuka came close – a few times – to break a kickoff return for a touchdown. He returned four for 166 yards (41.5 average). And, man, is it exciting to watch. He finds a seam and bursts. His longest return was 67 yards. Close. Maybe the next game. Garrett Wilson also had a good day returning kicks. As a punt returner, Wilson returned three for 36 yards, including a 23-yard return. The Bucks did a good job on the cover, and Noah Ruggles did all of his kicks. A solid performance, but I’m still looking for a touchdown return or a blocked kick. Something spectacular.
Overall rating: A Strong
CJ Stroud: It’s not the first week I’ve included Stroud here, and I’m confident it won’t be the last. It displays Heisman-style numbers. In five games, he completed 66% of his passes for nearly 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns. I realize that Stroud is surrounded by offensive weapons, but he’s developed so quickly he’s able to spot receivers, anticipate their movements, and put the ball in their hands. Against Maryland, Stroud played his best game so far. I’d still love to see quarterback calls, but I’m not complaining. This guy is becoming a star like the Buckeye quarterbacks we’ve seen over the last decade or so. Ryan Day thinks so. In the third quarter, the Bucks were fourth and one on the Maryland 29-yard line. The defense regroups for a Master Teague run and Stroud throws a touchdown pass to Chris Olave. 4e and 1! It is confidence.
Chris Olave: Yes, another rehearsal performer. Seven takes. 120 meters. 17.1 on average. Two affected. How did he fall with that ball in the end zone? We have come to expect miracles from Chris Olave, and he delivers them. Match after match.
Steele rooms: Like everyone else, I guess, I wondered about the passage of go back to linebacker. Playing linebacker for Ohio State is a far cry from playing the position in high school. And I thought the coaches were just trying to find a place for Chambers because as a back he wasn’t going to have a lot of races on this team. But he’s now perhaps Buckeye’s best linebacker – and getting better with the game. Against the Terps, Chambers tallied seven tackles, a team-high and recorded one sack. He’s fast and hits hard. A sure tackler. Good initiative, coaches.
Craig Young: Like I said last week, if you get a pick of six, you get a “Blue Chip” rating. And Craig Young got one from 70 yards. So over to you, Craig. And the Buckeyes see an interception returned for a touchdown for the fourth straight game.
Garret Wilson: As part of the trio of All-American-caliber wide receivers, Wilson’s ability to get a step (or more) over his defenseman is a skill that keeps teams from defending Ohio State’s passing game. Yesterday Wilson, in addition to his punt return (discussed above), caught five passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns. So soft. So sure of himself. And, like all Buckeye receivers, Wilson can chase after the capture.
Emeka Egbouka: Egbuka has shown breakaway speed on his kicking returns and has provided ample proof that he will be ready to step up next season and replace Olave and Wilson. He caught three balls for 31 yards against Maryland. The only play that kept me from giving Egbuka a “Blue Chip” rating was the hold call he got that nullified Marcus Crowley’s sweet 12-yard touchdown run. Egbuka’s catch was followed by a sack from Kyle McCord and a field goal from Ruggles, shattering an eight touchdown streak on eight possessions.
Jack Sawye:. I like his motor skills and his determination. Nice bag, Jack!
The starting offensive line: This line is really starting to assert itself. Maybe the Maryland Pass Rush wasn’t much, but Stroud had all day to go. The run blocking seemed to start a bit slow, but the line livened up on racing games when Master Teague entered the game. And then they stayed like that.
When you win a game 66-17, there aren’t a lot of lazy people there. The season still has a ways to go and, without a doubt, we’ll see some sloppy play along the way. But for the Maryland game, no penny stocks in the market.
One week goodbye and then to Indiana. The Hoosiers may not provide the test we thought they would, but I can’t wait to see how the Buckeyes fare with an extra week of training.