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: Dealing with major uncertainty
Next, we’ll take a look at the individual players whose performances stood out (one way or another!).
The Buckeyes didn’t play particularly well, they didn’t cover the spread, the end result was uncertain until the fourth quarter, and there are still plenty of questions to answer.
But, Ohio State won the game. This is the third game in a row that I (and everyone) have said the Bucks haven’t played a strong game. Time will tell if the 2021 version of Ohio State is a good team that falls short (for various reasons) or, say, an 8-4 team playing like a team about to go 8-. 4. Akron next week will hopefully be an opportunity to try new things and new players. This also seems to have been the case yesterday.
What a difference a single week can make. Against Oregon, I said OSU’s passing game was going well, but they needed to find a complementary running game to achieve balance, unpredictability and better efficiency in the red zone.
Flip it over this week and CJ Stroud played his worst game of the young season. He completed 60% of his passes (15/25) for 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Stroud looked hesitant, unsure of himself – and his receivers. He still threw high. He held the ball too long resulting in a sack and fumble.
Stroud’s best pass, a long shot to Chris Olave, was sadly recalled on a head-to-head penalty against offensive lineman Paris Johnson. Olave, who dropped another ball, had no reception for the game. You’d think the young quarterback would turn to the veteran star. The game’s longest passing game was only 20 yards. What happened to big games, like the ones against Minnesota?
On the other hand, there was a racing game. Wow, was there a racing game, and its name is TreVeyon Henderson. Henderson’s 277 rushing yards broke Archie Griffin’s freshman running record and was the most rushing third yards of any Buckeye runner – ever!
Henderson ran for 48, 54 and 52 yards and almost broke a few more, including the game’s opener. With 24 carries, Henderson averaged 11.5 yards per attempted run and scored three touchdowns. With his vision, quick cuts, and absolute speed, Henderson is that elite backstroke that happens (at least in places like OSU and Alabama) every now and then. They have to keep him healthy, give him the ball and move away.
Master Teague also played well, I thought. We didn’t see it in the Oregon game, but against Tulsa, Teague carried the ball 14 times for 62 yards (4.4 on average); he was running hard and seemed determined to play well. He lacks the finesse and speed of Henderson, but he’s a tough runner. The Buckeyes gained 323 rushing yards in their best rushing effort to date.
The Bucks have yet to show both phases of the offense in one game. They obviously have the talent for that. But does Stroud now have a self-confidence issue, or is it all the product of his semi-injured shoulder?
I think he should get racing games designed and receive easy throws from the start. I kept waiting for it to catch fire in this game, and it didn’t. The offense (yes, Stroud) had two turnovers, and there were driving penalties. Not counting the knee to complete the first half, the Buckeyes had 11 possessions: two baskets, a touchdown, a punt and an interception in the first half.
And in the second half, they had three touchdowns, two punts and a sack / fumble. Although Ohio State converted in six of 11 third-down situations, the offense didn’t seem as effective as we’re used to. And the competition wasn’t exactly playoff caliber.
Overall rating: BBB Adequate
Against Minnesota and Oregon, I gave Buckeye’s defense the lowest possible rating. I have seen some improvement this week and am raising the rating up a notch to âadequateâ.
I think if the OSU defense keeps the opponent at 20 (or less) points, Ohio State will win the game. Adequate. That said, Buckeye’s defense gave up 428 yards in the air and 501 total yards. Too much. And the defense helped Tulsa convert in nine of 17 third down situations. Once again, there were serious problems in stopping the training of the opponents.
Watching quarterback Davis Brin hit open receivers with silver throws made me think Tulsa’s quarterback must be a Heisman candidate. But there was just really bad coverage from high school. They had particular difficulties when Tulsa grouped three receivers on one side. Buck’s defenders either let themselves be taken out of play or two of the defensive backs took the same receiver, leaving at least one free. Going through my playing notes, the phrase “wide open receiver” appears almost a dozen times. A real problem.
The running defense, however, has been significantly improved. The Bucks really won the race early in the game, limiting Tulsa to just 13 rushing yards in the first half and 73 for the game (2.6 yards per rushing attempt). There have been several saves for losses, and it’s the defensive line that needs to be credited here.
On the passes, the line, supported by more blitz (especially in the second half), put more pressure on Brin, but I would have expected, given the competition, more sacks, more haste, more of reversals. Again, the pass rush needs to improve, especially if the coverage remains so bad.
Overall rating: BBB Adequate
A solid effort here by the Buckeyes. Noah Ruggles hit all of his kicks: five extra points and two baskets. Jesse Mirco averaged 44.3 yards for his three punts. Buckeye’s coverage on the pitches and kickoffs was strong. The kick returns were promising, as Wilson ran a 20-yard punt, and Egbuka appeared to be a threat to break a kickoff return in some time.
While there weren’t any really long returns, blocked punts for touchdowns, or anything electrifying like that, the special teams did well.
Overall rating: A Strong
TreVeyon Henderson: Obviously! Henderson, as I noted above, had a record game. Perhaps more importantly, he provided Buckeye fans with something very positive to take away from what was, admittedly, another disappointing game. Henderson offers OSU a bright future and excitement every time the ball is in his hands.
Tyleik Williams: Maybe a surprise here, as Williams is another freshman and we don’t hear much about. Only once in my Tulsa notes do I have âreally a lot of play hereâ. Here is the situation. Tulsa got the ball deep in the fourth quarter after an OSU punt. The score was only 27-20, the result still undecided.
Tulsa had successfully thrown the ball lately, to accompany his strong pass attack. A 24-yard run set up a first down. An incomplete pass and a short rush made it 3rd and 7.
Quite frankly, I was expecting Tulsa to convert, like they had the whole game. But, great playing time. Williams crushes his blocker and sacks Brin for a big loss. Wilson then returns the punt for 20, setting the stage for a great run from Teague and Stroud’s only TD assist (to Garrett Wilson), making it 34-20.
Williams was often in Tulsa’s backfield when he was in the game. We’ll see more, I bet.
Cameron Martinez: Yes, I know Martinez was part of the coverage issues, but his pick of six in the fourth quarter put the game on the sidelines. We need to see more big plays in defense.
Haskell Garrett: Again, I thought the defensive line was better, especially against running, and Garrett was one of them.
Master Teague: See above. Teague was running with a goal. He doesn’t like to sit on the bench. Considering Henderson’s performance, however, Teague won’t be the first running back. But we’ll see it maybe every third or fourth set, and in short distance situations.
Ronnie Hickman: I know it is often criticized and, in fact, often misplaced. But he is everywhere on the ground. He shows effort and energy. He’s leading in tackles and he made an interception at the end of the first half to stop a promising practice from Tulsa.
Bryson Shaw (and other defensive backs): What is going on there? I know there have been some key injuries and the players are still looking for their way into new positions, but their performance makes me want to play the quarterback.