What Ohio State's defense can take away from opener
It’s typical for a good team to play well enough to win its opener but show enough flaws to give its coaching staff plenty to work on during the next week in practice.
So Saturday’s opener was pretty typical for fifth-ranked Ohio State.
The Buckeyes rolled past Oregon State 77-31 at Ohio Stadium, piling up 721 total yards in the process. That was the second-most yards in school history — two years ago in its opener, also in a 77-point outburst, Ohio State gained 776 yards against Bowling Green.
But the Buckeyes defense was another matter on Saturday.
Giving up 31 points and 392 total yards to Oregon State, which in 2017 went 1-11 and finished last in the Pac-12 in scoring and total offense, should not sit well with the Buckeyes staff. Co-defensive coordinators Greg Schiano and Alex Grinch will have plenty to work on in preparation for next week’s game against Rutgers.
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So here are three positives and three negatives which Ohio State’s defense can take away from Saturday:
Ball hawks: The Buckeyes forced two fumbles and did something with both. In the first quarter, the Beavers botched a jet sweep handoff and All-American defensive end Nick Bosa was there to pounce on the ball, setting up the first Buckeyes touchdown. Late in the second quarter the result was even better for the Scarlet and Gray, as Bosa again recovered an Oregon State fumble, this time for a touchdown.
Pressure on QB: One of the big questions for Ohio State heading into the season was where the pass rush would come from aside from Bosa. Sacks aren’t everything, of course, and the Buckeyes will want to put even more pressure on QBs going forward. But five sacks, including two each by Bosa and defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, is a fine start.
Bend and only sometimes break: Believe it or not, Oregon State had chances to put up more points. The Beavers had the ball in Ohio State territory on eight different drives. Oregon State twice got the ball deep in Buckeyes territory on turnovers, but both times the Beavers settled for field goal tries and missed one of those.
Too many big plays allowed: Note that we said bend and only sometimes break. Artavis Pierce had an 80-yard touchdown run and a 78-yard TD run for Oregon State. Three of his teammates had at least one 25-yard reception, including Trevon Bradford, who had a 49-yard catch for one of his two touchdowns.
Who was that?: Perhaps more disturbing for the Ohio State offense is that just about all of this damage came against a backup quarterback. Beavers starter Jake Luton was injured early in the game. Enter second-string sophomore Conor Blount, who was 12-of-19 for 169 yards, two touchdowns and a 172.6 QB rating.
Yellow flags: Again, in an opener it’s normal to have some penalty issues crop up. Promising cornerback Jeffrey Okudah was flagged for pass interference twice in one first-quarter drive, and the Buckeyes D committed three of the six total penalties which Oregon State accepted in the game. The good news? None came after the first quarter.