COLUMBUS — Coming into the season, no matter who the new starting quarterback was going to be, there was one thing for sure: Ohio State had a talented group of skill players around him to make the plays.
Redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud had an impressive performance on Saturday against Maryland going 24-of-33 for 406 yards and five touchdowns in three quarters. There’s no doubt that he proved to be a top college quarterback running a high-powered offense. Led by Stroud, the Ohio State passing game was unstoppable against the Terps.
The only time Ohio State didn’t score on a possession with Stroud in at quarterback was when they took a knee to end the first half.
Every time Stroud got into Maryland territory, it appeared that there was no doubt that he was going to score. The only question was who was going to be on the receiving end of his pass? Senior Chris Olave? Junior Garrett Wilson? Sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba? True freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson? It didn’t matter one bit. Everyone got touches and everyone was productive.
A trio of talented wide receivers and Henderson getting involved in the pass game gave Stroud plenty of reliable options. The group is certainly making an argument for the best wide receiver room in Ohio State history.
At times in the game Ohio State’s wideouts were so wide open that there were many options available for Stroud to pass to. It was almost like he just got to pick who he wanted.
Stroud likes getting to spread the ball around and get everyone involved in the passing game.
“I think that’s the great thing about our passing game is that on any given play, everybody has routes. It’s fun to give everybody the ball, everybody is happy,” Stroud said following the win.
Stroud did exactly what a veteran quarterback does and took what the defense gave him. Maryland came into the game looking to shut down Ohio State’s run game. But with that, Stroud had the ability to get the ball to the playmakers in another capacity.
Henderson still put up 102 yards on the ground on 16 carries, but what was most impressive was his added presence in the passing game. Henderson made clutch plays when needed and threw off Maryland’s defensive front, including on his first passing touchdown from 26 yards out. He caught four passes on four attempts for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Henderson showed that when the run game isn’t functioning at its best, he can still be a weapon on the field for Ohio State as a receiving threat in addition to the talented receiving unit Ohio State has consistently relied on.
There have been a handful of games where some key receivers were left out off the stat sheet due to the course of the game. But Zone 6 has preached staying patient and doing your job and trusting that the ball will come.
Saturday was that day, where there was enough ball for everybody to share. Olave, Wilson, and Smith-Njigba all got to “eat” on Saturday against Minnesota.
“I definitely am pleased and am happy that all of our receivers ate today.” Stroud said.
Olave passed Cris Carter’s all-time touchdown record with his 28th and 29th touchdown receptions. He now trails just Devin Smith (30) and David Boston (34) on Ohio State’s all-time list for touchdown receptions. He recorded 120 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.
Wilson finished the game with 84 yards and two touchdowns on five catches, reaching his 100th career reception and continuing his streak of 27 games with a catch. Smith-Njigba hauled in 103 yards on five catches of his own.
For head coach Ryan Day, the personnel on the field certainly help to give Stroud, a young quarterback, opportunities to succeed.
“Having Chris [Olave] and Garrett [Wilson] and Jaxon [Smith-Njigba] and Jeremy [Ruckert] and Emeka [Ebgua] and Marvin [Harrison Jr.], those guys are very very talented and gifted,” Day said. “They do a great job of getting open. The plays look a lot better when you have really good players out there.”