What can you possibly learn from the tenth game of the season, especially when that game was treated like a scrimmage where players were permitted to go out there and not go out there.
Several starters were held out entirely, while the rest played for little more than the first half.
It wasn’t quite the Ohio State Spring Game, but it was pretty close. In this instance, the Gray team beat the Scarlet (Knights) team 56-21.
What did we learn? That we have to look pretty hard to find some lessons and new knowledge from this one.
But not doing something because it might be difficult is only something I do most of the time.
Let’s get started.
1 Freshman linebacker Cade Stover is now freshman defensive end Cade Stover.
Freshman linebacker Cade Stover played a bit in Saturday’s game, but the position he played was defensive end. Back in the spring or summer, I asked Greg Mattison how long Stover would stay at linebacker before moving over to defensive end and he declined to answer. Looks like the answer was about nine games. This actually helps out for 2020 because the Buckeyes have missed on some of the big defensive ends in the 2020 recruiting cycle. It wasn’t the cleanest of games for Stover, who had to be shown where to go a time or two, but the future is just fine.
2. It’s impossible to fire on all cylinders with some cylinders missing.
This was a piecemeal attack by the Buckeyes on Saturday. First-teamers mixed with second- and third-teamers is not how a team looks its best. This was a game about building depth and getting some players experience, and as Ryan Day said after the game, they’re not going to look for too much meaning in this game.
3. Larry Johnson is a good dude.
Props to defensive line coach Larry Johnson on giving the start at defensive end to New Jersey natives Tyler Friday and Javontae Jean-Baptiste. It says something for Johnson that he would do that for his guys. I suppose it also said something about both of players as well. So now if you’re keeping count, Ohio State — who returned both of their starting defensive ends from last season — has now started Chase Young, Jonathon Cooper, Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, Jashon Cornell, Zach Harrison, and Javontae Jean-Baptiste at defensive end this season. That’s pretty deep and shows why depth is so necessary.
4. The Buckeyes are going to be ahead of the curve at cornerback next year.
Okay, maybe “ahead of the curve” is a bit much, but for a team that will likely lose all three of their starting cornerbacks, the Buckeyes will be as ahead of the curve as humanly possible thanks to how much Sevyn Banks and Cam Brown have played this season. They still need to find a third corner to replace Shaun Wade should he leave, but don’t be surprised when Ohio State has at least the best cornerback duo in the conference next season.
5. Ryan Day is an understanding dude.
I know I wasn’t the only person who thought Garrett Wilson’s punt returning duties were over when he muffed the punt that led to Rutgers’ first touchdown. Rather than bench him, Wilson was right back out there and Ryan Day proved one of his key tenets — you learn from making mistakes. This was a game that allowed for mistakes. It’s best to make them now and learn from them than make them, get benched, and then get called upon again in a big situation where you still have that mistake looming over you. Ryan Day knows they need Garrett Wilson over these next five games.
6. Drue Chrisman needs to get right…and soon.
Drue Chrisman hasn’t been himself for about a month now and that’s been okay because of who Ohio State has been playing, but they need to him to return to form because his touch down inside the 10-yard line is a game changer. With this Ohio State defense, the longer the field for the opponent, the lower the chances of giving up points. We have seen Chrisman dominate a game — last year at Michigan State — so the ability is there, it just needs to come back…and soon.
7. Steele Chambers is likely done for the year.
No, not because of injury, but because he has now played in his fourth game and if he plays in another game, his redshirt is gone. The Buckeyes should be fine without him the rest of the way out, even if Marcus Crowley isn’t back immediately. That isn’t to say that Chambers couldn’t help the offense the rest of the way out, just that they may not want the ball in too many freshmen’s hands.
8. It feels like Justin Fields is getting ready to explode.
Through 10 games, Justin Fields has thrown just 13 passes in the fourth quarter. He has run the ball just seven times. Over these last two weeks, Ryan Day has had him throwing the ball around in what seems like an attempt to gear him up for what is to come. It would be a bit surprising if Fields isn’t playing all four quarters the rest of the way out, so when you take his average numbers of 216 yards passing and throw another 70 or 80 yards on it, and his 40 yards rushing and add another 15 or 20 yards, you’ll be looking at a guy putting up about 330 yards of total offense and five touchdowns per game. Or at least you might be. It does feel like he’s getting ready to be unleashed, which could be bad news for everyone else.
9. Jaelen Gill still has it.
Jaelen Gill was one of my most favorite topics in the preseason because of his potential and his possible role in this offense. That hasn’t materialized yet, but you saw on his touchdown catch why I’ve been looking forward to seeing him this season. You also saw much of what we saw in the spring when we would watch practice. As Ryan Day has said, everybody develops at their own pace, and Gill is no different. But you saw what he can do at any given moment and it is special.
10. The season starts now.
These first 10 games were fun, but another five would probably be more fun. As Tom Orr wrote today, the Buckeyes are in a single-elimination tournament right now and each game becomes bigger than the last. And who would have thought there could be any bigger game than the one played last night.