Ohio State football: Tulsa game likes and dislikes

Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) slices through the Tulsa Golden Hurricane defense on his way to scoring a 52-yard touchdown during the third quarter of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.Tulsa At Ohio State Football
Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) slices through the Tulsa Golden Hurricane defense on his way to scoring a 52-yard touchdown during the third quarter of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.Tulsa At Ohio State Football /

I hate to be one of those people who go around saying, “I told you so,” but I told you so. The other day I warned everyone that I thought Tulsa was dangerous and that is exactly what they proved to be. The Golden Hurricane ended the day with over 500 yards of offense and trailed by just seven points very late in the game.

I wish I was telling you I was wrong and we were celebrating a blowout win. Although changes were made and improvement was shown in some areas, any offense with even a faint pulse gives the Ohio State football team’s defense a difficult time.

Here are my likes and dislikes from the Ohio State football team’s second win of the season.


TreVeyon Henderson – The nation’s top running back recruit is showing everyone he deserved that ranking. With his 277-yard performance, he broke Archie Griffin’s nearly fifty-year-old single-game freshman rushing record. I’ve written often of the Buckeyes’ need to find a Special running back (read about that here). Henderson is proving to be just that guy.

Downfield blocking – I thought the receivers did a fantastic job blocking downfield. Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and especially Garrett Wilson were very large factors in Henderson’s long runs. Give credit to the tight ends as well. Jeremy Ruckert was always knocking a Tulsa defender backward and I thought Mitch Rossi did an excellent job also.

More aggressive – While the defense still gave up a lot of yards, at least there was more attacking and blitzing going on. Secondary coach Matt Barnes took over the play-calling duties from Kerry Coombs and the difference was noticeable.

Interior defensive line – It was great to see the defensive tackles finally be allowed to penetrate and be a disruption. Antwuan Jackson and true freshman Tyleik Williams especially stood out to me. As a unit, they combined for eleven tackles, two sacks, four tackles-for-loss, and a quarterback hurry.

Holding – The defensive ends may have only accounted for just one quarterback hurry all day, but they forced Tulsa’s offensive tackles into multiple holding penalties. Play after play the Buckeye ends nearly had their jerseys ripped off. No sacks from this group, but they still made their presence felt.

Man-to-man coverage – Yes, I realize just how many yards were given up through the air, but the overwhelming majority of that came against zones and on pick plays. Cornerbacks Denzel Burke and Cam Brown provided excellent coverage all day and combined for four pass breakups, but it was cover safety Cam Martinez who just about stole the show. The redshirt freshman from Michigan had three pass breakups and an interception late in the game that he returned for a 61-yard touchdown.


C.J. Stroud – Yesterday was a definite step backward for the Ohio State football quarterback. He struggled throwing from the pocket most of the day and looked far more comfortable rolling out. The Buckeyes have a great group of playmakers at receiver, but Stroud struggled to get them the ball all day.

Missing open receivers is just as bad as a dropped pass. It’s a missed opportunity and puts you behind the chains. When that happens, Ryan Day can’t really open up the playbook. Regardless if it is a sore shoulder (as he has talked about) or the pressure of being the starter at a place like Ohio State, Stoud regressed against Tulsa, and the Buckeyes can’t afford to have that happen again.

Tommy Eichenberg – The sophomore MIKE linebacker from Cleveland was a favorite target for criticism by fans and media alike through the first two games, but I decided to hold off judgment until I saw more. Now I’ve seen more.

It is time for the Buckeyes to find an alternative at this position. How do you go through an entire game at middle linebacker and not record a single tackle? Eichenberg managed to do that yesterday. It is time to give Dallas Gant an opportunity to see what he can do or look at moving Palaie Gaoteote into the middle.

Zone coverage – As I mentioned earlier, most of Tulsa’s passing yardage came against zone coverage. Too often the middle of the field was wide open. I’ll toss in the struggles against Tulsa’s pick plays out of bunch formations as well. Every team runs these types of plays, they are nothing new. The Buckeyes just did not do a good job of defending them Saturday.

Three calls – Overturning Denzel Burke’s interception was ridiculous, but calling Cam Brown for interference when the receiver ran into him when Brown wasn’t moving topped it. Also, the roughing the passer penalty on Jacolbe Cowan was the weakest call of the day. Overall, the officiating was fine, but these three calls left me shaking my head.

Turf – The current state of the turf at Ohio Stadium is so bad it’s an embarrassment. Why was this not replaced in the offseason? This can be done in a hurry. We’ve seen turf replaced for NFL teams in less than a week. It can and needs to be done at The Shoe.

After the Akron game next week, there are two weeks until the Buckeyes are at home again. There is also a long stretch through most of October when the stadium will not be in use. It needs to be changed sooner rather than later.

Next. Ohio State Football: Stroud should be benched. dark

Survive and advance. Keep adding wins as they continue to try to tweak and improve is what it has to be for this Ohio State football team right now. The Akron Zips are up next. Another chance for Ryan Day’s team to get better. There is still a ways to go with this team.