COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — No. 5 Ohio State beat in-state opponent Youngstown State 35-7 in the Buckeyes’ first home game of the 2023 season.

Kyle McCord showed what he’s capable of at quarterback, the offensive line struggled in a different way than in week one, and it wasn’t the dominant win fans have come to expect from OSU. Below is a more in-depth look at these three takeaways from Saturday’s game.

Kyle McCord settles in at QB

Kyle McCord’s second outing as Ohio State’s starting quarterback was much improved. The junior went 14 for 20 for 258 yards and three touchdowns. All but five of those yards came in the first half.

He connected with his former high school teammate Marvin Harrison Jr. for two touchdowns, including a 71-yard quick fade on the third play of the game. Harrison finished the game with seven catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half.

“I think the biggest thing is just coming out of the gate and just trusting my reads, trusting my arm, trusting the players around me and I think we showed flashes of that last week for sure but we were just spotty,” McCord said. “We came out strong and got things going. I got the ball in the receiver’s hands and they did some really good things after the catch. We aired it out a little so I think it was a good mixture and as long as we can continue to build that offensively.”

An ill-advised throw to Emeka Egbuka in double coverage and a throw behind Marvin Harrison Jr. were really the only mistakes McCord made in an otherwise solid performance.

Coach Ryan Day said after the game he’s not ready to make a decision right now about naming McCord as OSU’s permanent starter at QB. He added he’ll look at the film before making that decision. Day did say McCord was more efficient and looked more comfortable this week.

“I think early in games like this how you play matters and I like how [Kyle] came out of the gates playing well,” Day said. “He made some nice throws early on and I thought that was good. He got himself into a rhythm and showed that he can make some of those throws and that’s important.”

Day wanted to get sophomore Devin Brown into the game more, and that’s exactly what he did. The sophomore led three possessions while McCord led six drives.

OSU O-Line growing pains

Last week, Ohio State’s offensive line struggled to get a push up front in short-yardage situations. This week, they committed four penalties, including two that cost OSU 14 points.

The penalties started on the very first drive and went all the way into the fourth quarter.

  • Carson Hinzman called for holding. Nine-yard run negated
  • Josh Simmonds called for holding. First-down run on 3rd and 1 negated. OSU ends up punting
  • Josh Simmons personal foul for hands to the face. 17-yard TD run by TreVeyon Henderson negated
  • Chip Trayanum called for holding. 4-yard TD run by Miyan Williams negated. OSU ends up turning the ball over on downs

“We gotta get it fixed now,” Day said. “I think it’s just the consistency. We can do it. I know we have the talent. Our guys are very, very talented so we have to look at what we’re doing schematically and make sure it’s not too complex, make sure it’s simple because all we ask them to do is play really, really hard and execute . . . we have to identify if we’re doing the right things with them and where the break downs are coming from and that’s the coaching.”

Less is not more

If you’re wondering why Ohio State didn’t blow out Youngstown State by more than 28 points, the answer isn’t as simple as the offense struggling.

A new rule this season is already showing the impact it’s having on Ohio State’s offense. The NCAA passed a new rule allowing the game clock to continue on first downs unless it’s under two minutes in each half. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s having a massive effect on one area in particular — fewer possessions and points.

Last year against Indiana, Ohio State had 15 possessions. This year the Buckeyes had 10. In week two, OSU had the ball on offense 12 times. This week: nine drives. Across college football, teams are on average losing out on three possessions.

“It does create a level of anxiety because we’re used to getting about 15 possessions a game and scoring 60 and 70 points, but we had nine possessions. We’re not used to having nine possessions,” Day said. “Boy, when you only have 60 plays, every single rep you gotta be on point . . . we’re used to scoring 60 and 70 points in these games.”

Day said the lack of points is a combination of things: lack of efficiency, the new rule and the last two teams purposely taking a long time to snap the ball to wind down the game clock.

“It doesn’t take much to get a couple first downs and before you know it you look up and you’ve had three plays in the third quarter and there’s like four minutes to go,” Day said. “I said this is going to be an interesting year because of this rule and man that clock seems to keep running.”

Even the players can feel the difference the new rule has had through two weeks.

“I honestly feel a lot more fresh after the game since the games are going a lot quicker,” cornerback Denzel Burke said. “It’s kind of crazy, honestly, but that’s just, you know, we’ve got to take advantage of every series, every drive, every play so that’s the mindset.”