Instant Observations: Buckeyes start slow but pull away from Indiana

Ohio State’s offense took a while to get going, but the defense carried the day and the offense came to life in the second half as Ohio State pulled away from Indiana to kick off its season with a conference win.

Now I get to kick off my season with the first edition of Instant Observations.

1. This won’t go down in the annals of history as a memorable performance by the Ohio State offense. I thought the playcalling was too conservative early. I know you want to get let the new QB get his feet underneath him, but McCord is now in his third year in the system and you have the best group of receivers in college football, have to be a little more aggressive and let it rip.

2. One of the most tricky and delicate parts about playing two quarterbacks, and why it’s not ideal, is determining when to put in the second quarterback. I didn’t like how that was handled today. McCord was forced into a tough situation on 4th and 2 with his primary receiver being tripped and on the ground, he had to throw the ball somewhere. So now you’re taking a guy out after a mistake instead of letting him go back out there and overcome some adversity.

Then on the other end, Brown wasn’t really given a chance to do anything. Two running plays and then his keeper which the O-Line didn’t block at all. Just not sure who benefitted from that entire situation, don’t think either QB did.

3. With all of that being said, I think there were some positive things with McCord in the second half. The offense moved the ball well, McCord made three or four really nice throws including the touchdown to Harrison that was nullified by a penalty. There was enough there, along with cleaning up a few mistakes, to have a positive overall outlook of

4. Love the I-formation look with Chip Trayanum at fullback. Whether it’s Miyan Williams or Trey Henderson behind him, that’s going to be a very productive look this season that should give them plenty of options in the red zone in both the run and pass game.

5. Captain Obvious here. They have to get Marv more involved. Yes, even if that means force-feeding him. It felt like they could have thrown curls to Harrison all day and maybe they should have.

6. Welcome to the Sonny Styles experience. He plays the game at a different speed. Indiana was not able to get the edge on Sonny’s side of the field all game long. His ability to run at this size will give this defense a ton of options but most importantly, it should limit big plays to the edge.

7. Davison Igbinosun is going to prove to be one of Ohio State’s best transfer portal editions, of any year. Igbinosun looked great all spring and fall camp and that carried right over to today’s game. Igbinosun plays with a bit of an edge to his game that the secondary has lacked since Jeff Okudah’s departure. He’s one of those ultra-competitive guys with big-time confidence and a short memory. Does he get a little too handsy sometimes? Yes. But this team needed a mindset change on defense and guys like Igbinosun and Styles are going to bring that.

8. Is it too early to take a victory lap on Malik Hartford? Because I’m gonna. Hartford became my No. 1 prospect in Ohio the day that Sonny Styles reclassified. He had an absolutely tremendous off-season and then came in today and got a ton of run. I predicted recently that Hartford could be in the starting lineup by the middle part of the season and I’m not backing down on that. He’s one of the best tackling safeties I’ve covered in recent years and that was at 170-pounds, now he’s 190-pounds. Hartford is on the fast track to being a big-time player for the Buckeyes.

9. This is what I expected out of the defense as a whole today and they delivered. Look, there’s nothing they could have done today against Indiana that would completely ease any concerns about the unit in big games, but they completely dominated this game from start to finish and that’s all you can ask for at this point. Notre Dame will be a much tougher test in a few weeks, but this type of start has to raise confidence levels for that group.

10. OK, so now what with the quarterbacks? I don’t think the offense did nearly enough today to just put this whole thing to rest. But certainly McCord’s improvement during the game and the lack of anything tangible from Brown (which wasn’t his fault) can’t change the calculus at this point. You have to start McCord next week and there’s no reason that both guys shouldn’t get significant snaps.

Personally, I’d do any experimenting next week and then give whoever you expect to start against Notre Dame the bulk of the reps during practice week for WKU and let them play that game until its out of hand. At some point you have to go with a guy and get him as many reps as possible to give him the best chance to succeed.

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