Instant Observations: Ohio State offense comes alive in blowout win over WKU

Ohio State’s offense started a little bit slow on Saturday but hit its stride during a monster second quarter enroute to a blowout home win over Western Kentucky.

1. This game played out mostly how I expected it to play out but even on the better side for Ohio State. The Buckeyes gave up some yardage, but held the high-powered WKU passing attack mostly in check and the offense showed the quick strike ability we’ve been waiting for.

2. I thought the defense played a really strong game. I expected WKU to score over 20 points in this game and the defense really put the clamps on after allowing the Hilltoppers to sustain a couple of drives early. WKU had no intentions of punting today, making it even more difficult for the defense to get off the field but they held a team that generally completes 65% of its passes and for an average of 7-8 yards per attempt to below both of those numbers, most notably under six yards per attempt. WKU’s passing game was not nearly as efficient as it usually was and that is with some second half stat-padding.

3. Most importantly, I thought the tackling was really good. The Buckeyes’ defensive speed and discipline in space was put to the test today and guys were flying to the ball and the linebackers especially were really good tackling in space. Great sign moving forward.

4. Not going to harp on the pass-rushing stuff this week. Said all week this would not be the game to do that. WKU gets the ball out lightning fast and I believe had not given up a sack so far this season. I thought the D-Line got about as much pressure as could be expected given how quickly the ball was coming out and I’ll table my concerns about pressuring the quarterback until we see how things play out on Saturday night in South Bend.

5. Offensively, this was a great “get right game”. I said it this week, we’d learn more about the defense than the offense in this one because the offense should be able to dominate a small and not particularly stout WKU defense. While I’m not going to go overboard with praise on doing that today, sometimes it isn’t so much about the competition level you’re facing but just about gaining some confidence, seeing the ball go through the hoop so to speak. We’ll see if they can build on this next week, but this was about as good of an offensive performance as could have been expected today.

6. Presented without comment, opinion, or judgement:

Justin Fields’ first three games in 2019: 52-74(70.2%), 657 yards 9/0 TD/INT.

C.J. Stroud’s first three games in 2021: 63-101 (62.3%), 963 yards 8/3 TD/INT.

Kyle McCord’s first three games in 2023: 53-76 (69.7%), 815 yards 6/1 TD/INT.

7. While McCord clearly played the best game of his young career, we also got a glimpse of what Devin Brown is capable of. That throw to Carnell Tate was a thing of beauty. Two guys with bright futures there.

8. Josh Proctor’s career at Ohio State has been a roller coaster but he was really noticeable today, and not just up near the line of scrimmage. He was put into coverage situations numerous times and handled those situations really well. You always wait for the other end of the roller coaster ride here, but Proctor has had moments throughout his tenure in Columbus and if he can harness some of his better play and put it on the field consistently, that’s going to be a big boost to this team.

9. Has Chip passed Miyan Williams on the depth chart? Maybe it’s going to be a week-to-week thing based on keeping legs fresh, but it’s clear that Henderson is going to be the featured back in this offense and now it’s starting to look very much like Trayanum would be the “next man up”. Just something to consider moving forward, will be interested to see what the RB rotation looks like next Saturday.

10. Watching games around the country the last few weeks and I think the national championship and CFP races are maybe more wide open than they’ve ever been. Georgia looked better in the second half today after a tough first half, but this just doesn’t look like a year where any team in the Top 10-15 should be giving up on their championship dreams. Florida State was lucky to survive Boston College today, Alabama has maybe one of the worst quarterback situations of any Power Five team in the nation. Georgia just doesn’t look as dangerous offensively.

If Ohio State can continue to improve, and they’ll need to regroup quickly with a huge showdown in South Bend on deck, they’ll be right in this thing.

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