The Offense – Confidence Level 6
The Ohio State offense took a major step forward in my mind last week. Kyle McCord had a clean pocket, looked comfortable, and was on target most of the day. He hit star wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. on another 70-yard-plus bomb, and the running game looked explosive. All of these factors are a direct result of how the offensive line played against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
For weeks we have been told to be patient with this offensive line as they begin to gel. Last week was the first time this season that we saw the direct results of that unit working through some things and coming out the other side looking better. Although left tackle is still a concern, Josh Simmons is looking more comfortable with every rep played, and for the first time this season, the line of scrimmage was owned by the Buckeyes offensive line.
All of that sounds great, but Notre Dame is a different story. The Irish have a different level of athlete much more comparable to Ohio State. Notre Dame’s defense is only giving up an average of 234.2 yards per game, which is good enough for fourth in the nation. The Irish defensively are stout, but they can be had, especially up front.
If Ohio State can establish the running game, then that will force more Irish defenders to be closer to the line of scrimmage, theoretically creating more one-on-one opportunities for Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Cade Stover in the passing game.
Notre Dame is going to score some points on Saturday. Can Ohio State score more? If they look like the team we saw a week ago, and the offensive line steps their game up, then the answer to that question is yes.
I am only slightly more confident in this offense than I am in Notre Dame’s defense. I need to see McCord and the Buckeye offense do on a big road stage what they did last week in the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium against a lesser opponent before my confidence level is any higher than a six.