Ohio State football: Minnesota game likes and dislikes

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 University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021.Ceb Osu21min Kwr 22 1
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 University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN on September 2, 2021.Ceb Osu21min Kwr 22 1 /

As we all know, the Ohio State football team got a 45-31 win over Minnesota to open the season. In a game like we saw last night, there is a lot to like and dislike. Here are some thoughts on what I saw.


Stroud’s recovery – C.J. Stroud has a very strong arm and he showed it off in the first half last night by overthrowing open receivers down the field and firing the ball on short passes. After the game he said his mind wasn’t right in the first half.

The first-game jitters were obvious. But, he settled down in the second half and showed what he is capable of doing. Stroud completed just five passes in the second half, but four went for touchdowns. Passes he missed on in the first half were pinpoint accurate in the second.

A big reason those completions were turned into touchdowns was because Stroud put the ball where his playmaking receivers could make the catch and not break stride. He finished the night 13-22 for 294 yards.

Offensive line – I thought the Ohio State football team could run the ball whenever they wanted thanks to that group of road graders up front. Even if you take away Miyan Williams’ 71-yard touchdown run, the Buckeyes still averaged over five yards per carry. They also protected their young quarterback and gave him plenty of time to throw the ball. Minnesota had no sacks and just two quarterback pressures. The Buckeye offensive line lived up to the hype.

Big play capability – Not just big-play capability, but big-play capability from more than just one guy. Touchdowns of 71, 38, 56, 70, and 61 yards were turned in by four different players. The speed and athleticism of OSU’s skill players were on full display as they continually ran away from Gopher defenders. This is the type of thing that gives opposing defensive coordinators nightmares.

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TreVeyon Henderson – The true freshman touched the ball just three times on offense last night but showed why there is so much hype surrounding him. On his first carry, he exploded into the hole and delivered a blow to the defender on a ten-yard gain.

His second saw him slide to his right when the hole was closed and get positive yardage. Then came the one that showed just how much of a weapon he can be. Henderson took a screen pass from Stroud and was off to the races.

While it is obvious Minnesota blew their coverage, the impressive thing about the play is how he outran defensive players who had clear angles on him. He just accelerated by them. Henderson is going to be a very good one.

Next man up – I thought Luke Wypler was outstanding as Harry Miller’s replacement at center. This isn’t surprising considering the glowing reviews he got during spring practice. Cornerbacks Cam Brown and Sevyn Banks both missed last night’s game.

The Buckeyes started a true freshman who only began playing cornerback in the spring (Denzel Burke) and a redshirt freshman (Ryan Watts). Both gave up some completions (in today’s football, every cornerback gives up catches) and both were called for interference, but I thought they played well overall. I thought Burke in particular did so. He contested many throws that came his way and was credited with three passes defended.


Tackling – Overall it was bad. At times, it was atrocious. Either a tackle was missed or too many yards were given up after making contact. The good news is the Buckeyes will not face a running back as good as Mohamed Ibrahim for the remainder of the season. The bad news is tackling like that will make a mediocre back look like Ibrahim. Championship defenses tackle well. This area simply has to get better if the Ohio State football team is going to challenge for a title.

Pass rush – Where is it? Yes, Zach Harrison made probably the biggest play of the game when he stripped Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan of the ball and Haskell Garrett returned it for a touchdown. But, their only other sack came from a linebacker on a blitz.

They were also credited with just one quarterback hurry. All too often, Morgan had plenty of time to throw the ball. Sometimes a pass defense is only as good as its rush. The OSU pass rush has the capability to be a disruptive force time and again. Last night’s performance was very disappointing.

Pass defense – I actually debated including this one, because when I look back at some things, I’m not sure it was THAT bad. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly needs to improve. As I mentioned already, I thought the two young cornerbacks who were pressed into service played well overall. But, I think they, along with Lejond Cavazos, got away with a lot of grabbing and holding (yes, I know Minnesota’s offensive line got away with a lot of egregious holds).

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I’d like to see that cleaned up, because they may not always have an officiating crew that lenient. I think some credit also needs to go to Morgan, Minnesota’s quarterback. Sometimes he just made a quality throw. Keep in mind he completed just over 50% of his passes for only 201 yards.

Not overwhelming numbers at all. Also, as I said about the pass rush, a better one will help this pass defense.  You can’t cover a receiver forever. At times, Morgan just had too much time to find an open receiver. Let’s reserve judgment on the pass defense until Banks and Brown are in the lineup.

The most important thing to remember is the Ohio State football team faced some adversity, and got a win on the road in the rain against a good, veteran team. Coaches believe it is almost written in stone a team will make its biggest improvement between its first and second games.

Ohio State Football: Offensive line as good as advertised. dark. Next

The Buckeyes have a few extra days to work on improving before meeting Oregon in Columbus next week.