Game 4 Recap: Ohio State 59 – Akron 7
Ohio State played the type of game everyone expected them to play for the first time this season, it just happened against Akron in the 4th week of the season. Going into the year, it is fair to say Ohio State fans had high expectations for the team, and a lot of the reload not rebuild narrative, but the latter is the situation Ryan Day finds himself in so far this season. There is a lot of youth at so many positions that it could have been unfair to expect Ohio State not to have any fall off, but the positions with the most concern are the players with the least amount of game rep experience, and that is at the quarterback and linebacker position.
At quarterback, there was a lot of noise on social media that they wanted to see someone else besides CJ Stroud at quarterback, and a lot of his growing pains could have been attributed to his shoulder injury that was there since the start of the season. Kyle McCord made his first start, and was the 4th true freshman to start at quarterback in Ohio State history. His first drive probably did not excite the Scarlet and Gray faithful as he overthrew his first two passes, and Coach Day said that the game was a little too fast for him. After that series though, he was able to settle and ended with 319 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Jack Miller got a chance to come in midway through the third quarter, and looked pretty decent as well, adding more of a running threat, and completing 5/8 passes for 66 yards. No one stood out as a challenger for Stroud, but the experience will be critical down the stretch if Stroud did have to sit out for extended time.
At linebacker, the depth go a little more interesting. Dallas Gant announced he had entered the transfer portal earlier in the week before the game. Then, during the game, k’Vaughan Pope left the game after a heated moment with linebacker Teradja Mitchell and linebacker coach Al Washington. His frustration with the moment and potentially playing time became the talk of the second half, and Ohio State announced today that Pope was no longer on the team.
The inexperience has shown so far in the first 3 games, and this game against Akron was the remedy this team needed as they prepare to start back up their Big 10 conference slate as they head to Rutgers this Saturday, and then return home the following week to host Maryland before they get their bye week.
TreVeyon Henderson started at running back again, and had 8 carried for 93 yards along with 2 touchdowns. Master Teague also got 8 carries for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns. Miyan Williams had 9 carries for 47 yards. Evan Pryor got into the game later, but still managed 5 carries for 35 yards and got his first touchdown.
Garrett Wilson paced the wide receivers again with 4 catches for 124 yards. Jaxon Smith-Njogba had another solid game with 5 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Olave had 2 catches for 12 yards and a touchdown, which now ties him with Santonio Holmes for receiving touchdowns.
Ohio State controlled the game after the second series for Akron, but what was the nail in the coffin for Akron’s confidence or chance was with under 5 minutes to go in the second quarter, Ronnie Hickman intercepts DJ Irons and brought it back for a touchdown, which extended the lead 35-7, and the Buckeyes never looked back since.
Star of the Game
The Ohio State team. It is hard to pinpoint one player who was the defining reason for the win, but this was a team effort on all three phases. This was the game the players, coaches, and fans needed to get confidence as they get ready for the next two-thirds of the regular season.
Ohio State finally played a complete game, and played the way they were expected to play, with the exception of Akron’s first two drives of the game. They played a lot of players, covered the 48 1/2 point spread, and there were teams around them that were defeated this weekend. The Coaches poll moved them up 1 spot, while the AP poll moved them down 1 spot. Although the Buckeyes are not where they would like to be, the next two weeks against stronger than expected opponents could help them out. Factor in they will get to play Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan, who are all ranked at this time, that should help them move up. Every team this year though looks vulnerable.
Ohio State (3-1) travels to Rutgers (3-1) at 3:30pm on BTN
Akron (1-3) returns home to host Ohio (0-4) at 3:30pm on ESPN3
Photo credit: 10tv