The score was 28-0 with 6:50 to play in the first quarter and everybody was having a real good time.
It’s hard to score like this on video games, and yet there the Buckeyes were. Towering over Florida Atlantic like they were playing on Rookie level.
From that point on, however, the Owls outscored Ohio State 21-17.
Mathematically, it wasn’t enough to get the job done, but it certainly sent a message to OSU head coach Ryan Day.
“Looking at it here, it was 28-0 and there was 6:50 to go in the first quarter,” Day said after the game. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a game like that. It was kind of strange that we came out to such a quick lead and maybe we took a deep breath there, I’m not sure. But we can’t let that happen. We’ve got to keep the pedal to the metal and keep going.”
After the game, Ohio State sophomore tight end Jeremy Ruckert said games are easier than practices, but nobody could have anticipated this kind of ease.
Florida Atlantic’s secondary was having mix ups in coverage, or just completely failing to stay with a simple post route to sophomore receiver Chris Olave.
Things were just so easy.
You know why “don’t let your guard down” is a thing people say? Because it’s good advice that has been ignored throughout history. Because there is something tangible about what happens when somebody does let their guard down, and also something tangible about the difficulty of getting that guard back up.
Even against the likes of Florida Atlantic.
Learning lessons like this in a win is a whole lot better than learning them in a loss.
“I thought we came out to a great start early on,” Day said. “We were clicking on both sides of the ball. Hit a bit of a lull there. But overall a great start. We wanted to play clean. Watched a lot of football the last week. And there’s been a lot of teams out there who haven’t played as clean as they like.
“A couple things here and there we have to fix, but I thought tackling was good. The ball security, other than one play, the fumble by JK [Dobbins] we gotta fix. The bubble screen, it was kind of a freak play, we’ll get that fixed fast. But other than that and a couple of penalties, I thought it was pretty clean and a good start.
“And on defense, again, I thought we ran to the ball early on. And then our second team came in a little bit and let them come down the field and we can’t let that happen. We’ve got to play with depth this season. So a lot to learn from. First step. But we’re 1-0. Good start. But first step in a long journey.”
The players themselves don’t necessarily know if they let up, and neither did the coaches after the game. What they do know, however, is that the next time this arises, the best course of action is to remain full speed ahead.
“We jumped on them early but we just gotta keep that tempo up and just be able to score all game long,” quarterback Justin Fields said.
It was impossible not to be impressed by the 28-0 start, which created expectations from the players just as it did from those who were watching. And when they failed to keep up anything close to that kind of pressure over the next three quarters, it is noticeable.
First games are notorious for less than perfection. The NFL gets four preseason games to figure things out. There is no such soft opening for college teams.
“When you’re coming out of preseason, one of the things is you spend so much time going against your defense,” Day said. “Whether it’s bowl practice, spring ball, preseason, you’re going at the same looks over and over again. And in first games you’re getting something that’s different. So it’s new and I think that’s why you see a lot of teams play sloppy in that first game. But I thought we adjusted as the game went on and, again, it’s a start.”