A grade card on Ohio State’s 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic in a game with a lot of firsts:
The first eight minutes of the game went so well for Ohio State’s offense that some people were speculating that Florida Atlantic might be one of the most uncompetitive opponents ever to appear on an OSU schedule. Eight minutes into the game the Buckeyes were in front 28-0 and Justin Fields looked a combination of Dwayne Haskins and Braxton Miller after he threw three touchdown passes and ran 51 yards for a touchdown. He added a fourth TD pass later.
Ohio State was, as they say, hitting on all cylinders early but the offense began to sputter in the middle part of the game and went seven straight possessions without scoring. One of the big differences might have been that OSU’s offensive line, with four new starters, was getting a strong surge early but was not controlling the action in the middle of the game.
Fields’ first start was a success by any measurement. He was 18 of 25 for 234 yards and four touchdowns passing. He did not throw an interception and did not come close to throwing one. And he gained 61 yards rushing.
Was Fields perfect? No. Also, the level of competition provided by Florida Atlantic has to be factored in. But it was encouraging.
J.K. Dobbins got 21 carries and gained 91 yards, mostly on runs inside the tackles. Highly rated tight end Jeremy Ruckert had two touchdown catches after having only one catch last season as a freshman.
Holding Florida Atlantic to -14 yards in the first half was impressive. Allowing 189 yards in the second half and giving up points on drives of 76 yards and 75 yards was not. Some of that yardage came with second-team players on the field, but not all of it.
Defensive end Chase Young looked the part of a first-round NFL draft choice that everyone expects him to be with 1 1/2 sacks. He was a disruptive force all day. Jashon Cornell had two tackles for losses and a sack. Linebacker Malik Harrison also was impressive with two tackles for losses and a sack.
Big plays, which were a huge problem for OSU’s defense last season, were notably absent for the most part. A pass completion for 38 yards was the only play longer than 26 yards for Florida Atlantic.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
There was not much to criticize about the Buckeyes’ special teams play. Drue Chrisman averaged 43.8 yards per punt and two of them were downed inside the 20-yard line. Blake Haubeil made his only field goal attempt from 46 yards. Demario McCall handled the kick return duties well.
Ohio State had many good moments but was not overwhelming after the first quarter in Ryan Day’s
first victory as Ohio State’s full time coach. Tougher competition is coming in the weeks ahead, starting with Cincinnati this Saturday. It was a good start but left room for improvement