In his second game as Ohio State’s full-time head coach, Ryan Day saw his team shine in all three phases of a 42-0 victory over Cincinnati last Saturday.
And after just two games the 2019 Buckeyes have already demonstrated one thing: These players are buying in to the way Day wants things done.
Best of all on Saturday at Ohio Stadium, OSU’s biggest stars and emerging standouts did all of the little things needed for such a comprehensive performance.
A few examples came on the unit where Day’s predecessor, Urban Meyer, placed so much emphasis: Special teams.
Chase Young, sure to be a top NFL draft pick when his days in Columbus are over, blocked a field goal in the second quarter. Transfer kicker Sam Crosa had what appeared to be a 31-yard chip shot but Young’s effort and athleticism kept the goose egg on the scoreboard:
Earlier, Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave hustled downfield and showed good awareness to down an OSU punt at the Cincinnati 1-yard line. The Bearcats quickly punted back and OSU took over in excellent field position at the UC 41, setting up the first touchdown drive for the scarlet and gray.
That level of effort permeated throughout the team.
J.K. Dobbins rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. But one play that showed up on the highlights was Dobbins throwing the lead block to allow quarterback Justin Fields to run into the end zone untouched on a 4-yard touchdown run to put OSU ahead 35-0.
The previous week against Florida Atlantic, OSU sprinted to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. Though they were never in any danger of losing, the Buckeyes let the Owls close in somewhat as the level of execution dropped off for the hosts in The Horseshoe.
Against Cincinnati another 28-0 lead, this time at halftime, was followed by a second half where the Buckeyes never relented.
Especially the defense.
The Buckeyes had five sacks, by members of every level of the defense, and seven tackles for loss in the game.
Linebacker Tuf Borland grabbed a deflected pass for an interception deep in OSU territory to snuff out one of Cincinnati’s best drives of the day late in the third quarter. Again, the team effort during Borland’s return had to please the defensive coaching staff:
And another turnover, with Cincinnati fumbling very near the Buckeyes end zone, ensured that OSU kept its shutout intact. As Amir Riep slowed running back Tavion Thomas, linebacker Dallas Gant swatted the ball away and the Buckeyes recovered for a touchback.
“We talked about doing a great job coming out at halftime,” Day said. “That was something we were emphasizing really all week because (it) didn’t leave a great taste coming off the field last week. I thought we sustained it and finished it the right way this week.”
It’s only two games into the season. Bigger challenges are ahead for the Buckeyes, who have both their first road game and first Big Ten game of the season this Saturday at Indiana. But it’s clear that, after a 2018 season full of controversy off the field and sloppiness on it that culminated in a blowout loss at Purdue, Ohio State is determined to finish things the right way all season.