COLUMBUS, OH – After a week one slugfest win over Notre Dame, Ohio State was able to put things on cruise control in a 45-12 victory over visiting Arkansas State.
New receivers stepped up in the absence of star Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the linebackers continue to impress and the slew of penalties continue to be a bugaboo.
Here are more on those three takeaways:
Receivers Stepping Up
Ohio State has for awhile now been touted as having the best receiver room in college football, and today’s performance by Marvin Harrison Jr and Emeka Egbuka will do nothing to diminish that belief.
Harrison Jr was spectacular, grabbing seven passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns, and had another possible touchdown called an incompletion, while Egbuka was solid in his own right, hauling in four passes for 118 yards and a score. Both players averaged more than 26 yards per catch.
“Marvin’s route running is very mature for his age,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “When you see somebody who has played as much as he has with the high level of route running, it’s pretty remarkable. He did it in a variety of ways. He was big in getting us going and has big play capabilities.”
Harrison also had another near-score in the corner of the end zone but was just unable to get his feet to inbounds.
Egbuka was running uncovered down the seam when CJ Stroud found him for a 51-yard touchdown pass, his second touchdown in two weeks. He had a career high nine catches against Notre Dame and has shown big-play capabilities.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
After slogging through a defense dominated victory against Notre Dame, the Buckeyes offense woke up against the Red Wolves. The offense netted 538 yards on just 54 plays (nearly 10 yards per play), and Stroud was especially effective throwing the ball, finishing 16-of-24 for 351 yards and four touchdowns.
It was a marked change from a week earlier, where the Irish played two deep safeties and simply would not allow Ohio State to go deep.
“When you play a certain style of defense it’s a little bit feast or famine sometimes,” Day said. “When you’re playing a team that keeps it in front of you it’s expected to be a higher completion percentage game but not as many yards. But a defense like this, it’s maybe not as high completion percentage, but then one goes for 60 or 40, you have those big plays.”
It was a mix of finesse and power against Arkansas State, and having that ability to play both ways has be viewed as a positive.
“When we’re playing with toughness, with an edge, those are positive things,” Day said. “But the negative things get us off schedule, and we don’t quite execute at a high level and it throws you off. Part of only having 54 plays was having a couple of three and outs. We’re just going to take a lot of pride in our execution. Sometimes a team will force your hand a little bit and if you want to be a good offense you have to show balance. We have to be able to throw the ball and win in four minute drills and run the ball and throw it in the red zone. We have proven ourselves in some areas, but we have to keep building and growing in other areas.”
Too Many Flags
Ohio State was whistled for seven penalties in the opener and committed nine penalties against Arkansas State. Two of the penalties kept alive an eventual scoring drive, and too many have been lack of focus penalties – pass interference, false starts, personal fouls.
A team can get away with that kind of sloppy play against lesser foes, but those same things will get you beat when the competition ratchets up a notch.
“That’s unacceptable,” Day said. “We’ve got to get that cleaned up. They had 76 plays, and we kept a couple of their drives alive with penalties. We have to coach it better and put it on the field better. It’s going to be a huge emphasis point this week.”
The Buckeyes are averaging 80 penalty yards per game through two contests, which ranked 105th nationally. OSU has not averaged more than 60 penalty yards per game since 2018, when it finished 127th in the country with 75.4 yards per game in penalties.