What can be learned from Ohio State’s 51-10 win at Indiana on Saturday? How about that we shouldn’t take these Buckeyes too lightly moving forward. This was an impressive win once again and they are answering every single question with emphasis and confidence.
The Buckeye offensive line has become a dominant force and is now challenging the Ohio State defensive line for “OSU Trench of the Year.”
JK Dobbins and Master Teague combined for 299 yards rushing, and the Indiana running game was held to just 42 yards on 31 carries — and 20 of those yards came from a 20-yard quarterback scramble.
For the third week in a row, Ryan Day called off the dogs before the fourth quarter, which makes you wonder what this team could look like with four full quarters of free reign.
Maybe we’ll get to see it in two weeks. Or maybe we won’t even need to.
But that’s a Ten Things for another day. For now, let’s talk Indiana.
1. Chris Olave and Binjimen Victor are consistent.
Chris Olave is third on the team with 10 receptions and second with 198 yards. Binjimen Victor is second in catches (11) behind KJ Hill (13), but leads the team with 200 yards receiving. The impressive thing about those yardage numbers for Olave and Victor is just how consistent they are game to game. Olave’s season low is 60 yards in a game and his season high is 70 yards. Victor, meanwhile, has a low game of 65 yards and a high game of 69 yards. Having a brand new starting quarterback meant that the Ohio State receivers would need to step up. They have done just that. There will come days when there may be a 120-yard day one week followed by a 25-yard day the next for somebody, but right now the Buckeyes are getting exactly what they need from Victor and Olave.
2. JK Dobbins’ has his moves back.
Go back and watch the first half of Saturday’s game and even on JK Dobbins’ “lesser runs,” he was as shifty as he ever was in 2017. Quick and decisive, and then powerful and determined. We are seeing the best possible version of Dobbins right now, and it doesn’t matter how or where he gets the ball. The offensive line has been dominating — and also providing help at the second level — but when Dobbins meets up with a tackler one-on-one, that tackler rarely stands Dobbins up for no gain or a loss.
3. Damon Arnette has earned some celebration time.
I don’t know if Damon Arnette still has haters, but I do know he still had complainers. He was great in this game and even had a tackle on Jeff Okudah. Oh, and he also had a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown and two other pass breakups on top of that. If he wants to dance after a play or celebrate a little, that’s just his personality shining through. That’s practically how cornerbacks breathe, so just let him breathe. He’s earned it.
4. Master Teague is a sizable piece of this puzzle.
I have now heard Buckeye fans compare Master Teague to Maurice Clarett, Joe Montgomery, Raymont Harris, and Eddie George. For me, he doesn’t remind me of anybody else. Yeah, he runs hard like each one of those guys, but he’s faster than all of them. That doesn’t make him better, I just like to state facts. His role in this offense is only going to grow. And that might not mean more than his 10 carries that he got against Indiana, but it means when teams prepare for the Buckeyes, they can’t just gloss over Teague. He’s too good for that. If Teague and JK Dobbins can split 30 carries a game, that could result in some very positive ball control for an up-tempo team. By the way, Teague is currently on pace for 1,003 yards rushing over a 14-game slate.
5. The Buckeye wideouts have corners concerned.
Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Chris Olave are running great routes right now. Combine that precision with fearful cornerbacks who don’t want to give up the big shot and it creates a lot of room to maneuver underneath. There are 15-yard gains available for days right now. That will obviously get more difficult as the schedule gets harder, but the execution is already there. What may be the one thing missing is a faster anticipation time for Justin Fields, who is still waiting for guys to come open at times. It feels silly to criticize him at this point, but this is our cross to bear.
6. This play-action is going to continue to hit home.
Ohio State brings in a second tight end with this offensive line and they go under center. If a safety doesn’t step up to help stop the run, JK Dobbins or Master Teague could go a long way. The problem with helping out against the run, however, comes when the safety sees that Justin Fields still has the ball and now a wide receiver is running down the field in one-on-one coverage with no other safety help. At this point, Fields can throw a receiver open, or at the very least, toss it up for a 50/50 ball. The Buckeyes haven’t gotten to the need to go 50/50 yet because everything else is working right now.
7. This defense rallies and moves on.
Admittedly, Ohio State’s defensive pursuit was responsible for the lone touchdown that the Buckeyes gave up against Indiana, but that same rallying defense has been responsible for many more positive plays than negative. In fact, you might be able to count the negative plays on one finger. Even when this defense gives up a chunk play, you don’t get any sense that the opponent is gaining momentum. Rather, they just did a nice job of scheme and execution on that one play. The entire defense has the mentality of a cornerback right now. They forget the bad plays and move on to the next snap where they believe they will get into the backfield or create a turnover, or both.
8. The young defensive ends are biting as pups.
Sophomore defensive ends Tyler Friday and Tyreke Smith have been healthy the last two weeks, and they have each earned a start opposite Chase Young the last two weeks. The funny part is that two weeks ago when Tyler Friday started, it was Tyreke Smith who notched a sack. Then this weekend when it was Smith in the starting lineup, it was Friday who landed a sack and an additional tackle for loss on top of that. Redshirt freshman Javontae Jean-Baptiste has tallied two tackles in each game, and this weekend he recorded his first career sack. True freshman Zach Harrison picked up his first career sack as well. While the Buckeyes wait for Jonathon Cooper to return, it has been good to see some young Bucks step up and produce in his absence. An undisclosed injury to Tyreke Smith on Saturday was definitely unfortunate, however.
9. This team hasn’t been challenged yet.
This team is still looking for a four-quarter fight, so there is a question as to what happens when that occurs. Right now, the Buckeyes are just getting started. They’re accelerating, but haven’t yet had to hit full speed. How does this team handle the road when they are at top speed? Can Justin Fields maintain control? Does this defense fold a bit under pressure. Will anybody point fingers? Right now, none of that appears to be an issue, but there will be games that don’t go well for three quarters. Can the Buckeyes hit that finish line under control?
10. This rush defense is legit.
Yes, it is still early in the season, but I don’t think it’s too early to call this rush defense legit. They are currently No. 4 in the nation in run defense, allowing just 57 yards rushing per game. They have faced two 1,000-yard rushers this season and the first one — Michael Warren — rushed for 15 yards, and the second — Stevie Scott — rushed for 10 yards. Senior nose tackle Davon Hamilton has been tremendous this season and everybody behind him has been consistent and sound.