After playing deep into its depth chart in its first two games of the season, Ohio State played far fewer players in its third game of the season against TCU.
While the Buckeyes put 71 players on the field in their season-opening 77-31 win over Oregon State, and 79 players on the field in their 52-3 win over Rutgers, Ohio State played only 56 players – including only 17 on offense and 20 on defense, with the rest playing only on special teams – in its 40-28 win over TCU on Saturday, its first close game of the season.
In a game that was still up for grabs until the final few minutes, Ohio State relied on its starters and other key players to play the entire game, with six offensive players – quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the five starting offensive linemen – and safety Jordan Fuller each playing every one of the Buckeyes’ snaps on their respective sides of the ball.
As the Buckeyes faced actual on-field adversity in a game for the first time this season, it became clear which players the team will rely on most in close games – and which players still have to earn their way into the rotation for big games.
We take a look at which players were on the field, and how much playing time each on them saw, in this week’s edition of Snap Counts.
Author’s note: All snap counts listed here should be considered unofficial, as Ohio State does not make its official snap counts public. It is not always possible to see all 11 players on the field from TV broadcast angles, particularly on special teams plays, so exact special teams snap counts are not included and offensive and defensive snap counts could potentially differ from those tracked by Ohio State’s coaches.
Dwayne Haskins: 84
While the Buckeyes gave Tate Martell some playing time with the first-team offense in their first two games of the season, they didn’t mess around with any quarterback substitutions against the Horned Frogs. Though the Buckeyes could still look to implement a package for Martell to play in close games later this season, Saturday made it clear that Ohio State’s offense is Haskins’ offense, as the starting quarterback was on the field for every offensive snap.
Mike Weber: 47
J.K. Dobbins: 39
Although Dobbins started Saturday’s game at running back, after Weber started one week before, it was Weber who ended up playing more snaps against TCU. As has been the case all season, though, Dobbins and Weber alternated series throughout the game for the most part, and both backs ended up with the same number of carries – 18 each – though Dobbins ran for nearly twice as many yards (121 to 64).
Terry McLaurin: 51
Austin Mack: 49
Parris Campbell: 35
K.J. Hill: 35
Johnnie Dixon: 33
Binjimen Victor: 32
C.J. Saunders: 9
Chris Olave: Special teams only
Ohio State continued with its six-man wide receiver rotation on Saturday, though McLaurin and Mack – despite a four-drop night for Mack – played considerably more snaps than their counterparts, Dixon and Victor, at the Z and X receiver positions. Hill, on the other hand, played a season-high 35 snaps after playing just 41 snaps in the Buckeyes’ first two games, playing exactly the same number of offensive snaps as fellow slot receiver Campbell against the Horned Frogs.
The Buckeyes also used four-wide receiver sets on nine plays against TCU, with Saunders checking in as a second slot receiver for each of those plays.
Rashod Berry: 58
Luke Farrell: 30
Although Farrell started the game at tight end, Berry emerged as the Buckeyes’ preferred option at the position on Saturday, playing nearly twice as many snaps against the Horned Frogs. Nearly half of Farrell’s snaps (13) came on plays in which the Buckeyes had both Farrell and Berry on the field in two-tight end sets.
Thayer Munford: 84
Malcolm Pridgeon: 84
Michael Jordan: 84
Demetrius Knox: 84
Isaiah Prince: 84
Joshua Alabi: Special teams only
Gavin Cupp: Special teams only
Wyatt Davis: Special teams only
Josh Myers: Special teams only
Kevin Woidke: Special teams only
The Buckeyes played their first-team offensive line of Munford, Pridgeon, Jordan, Knox and Prince from right to left – unchanged from their first two games – for the entire game on Saturday. Alabi, Cupp, Davis, Myers and Woidke all saw playing time as members of the field goal/extra point kicking unit.
Jonathon Cooper: 52
Chase Young: 51
Nick Bosa: 41
Jashon Cornell: 10
Bosa played nearly every snap of the first half of Saturday’s game, but did not return to the game after suffering an abdominal/groin injury on Ohio State’s first defensive series of the second half. With Bosa sidelined, Cooper and Young – who rotated with each other in the first half – were both on the field together for most of the Buckeyes’ second-half defensive snaps, though Cornell also saw some playing time in Bosa’s place.
Dre’Mont Jones: 67
Robert Landers: 36
Davon Hamilton: 25
Haskell Garrett: 10
Tyreke Smith: 6
Jones, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, was on the field for all but 10 of Ohio State’s defensive plays on Saturday, and ended up playing a career-high 67 snaps as a result. Garrett rotated into the lineup in his place on the other 10 plays.
Landers and Hamilton, meanwhile, rotated at the spot next to Jones in Saturday’s game, though Smith – the only true freshman to play any snaps from scrimmage against the Horned Frogs – continued to play at defensive tackle in the Buckeyes’ Rushmen package. The Buckeyes didn’t use that package as frequently against TCU as they did in their first two games, though, while they also ran 10 players with three-man defensive lines against the Horned Frogs.
Malik Harrison: 76
Pete Werner: 53
Tuf Borland: 39
Baron Browning: 33
Dante Booker: Special teams only
Dallas Gant: Special teams only
Keandre Jones: Special teams only
Justin Hilliard: Special teams only
K’Vaughan Pope: Special teams only
Harrison was the mainstay in Ohio State’s linebacker corps in Saturday’s game, staying on the field for all but one defensive snap.
Werner played all of the snaps at the other outside linebacker spot in the Buckeyes’ base defense on Saturday, but didn’t play as much in the nickel defense as he had in previous games, as he was only on the field in two-linebacker formations on plays when Smith also checked in on the defensive line.
Instead, most of the snaps in the nickel defense on Saturday went to middle linebackers Borland and Browning. Borland started his first game of the season after seeing only limited action while continuing to recover from an Achilles injury in the Buckeyes’ first two games, but Browning rotated in and out of the lineup with Borland and also saw considerable playing time as a result.
Kendall Sheffield: 65
Damon Arnette: 52
Shaun Wade: 39
Jeffrey Okudah: 38
Cameron Brown: Special teams only
Tyreke Johnson: Special teams only
Marcus Williamson: Special teams only
The Buckeyes continued to roll with a three-man outside cornerback rotation of Sheffield, Arnette and Okudah against TCU, while Wade lined up at slot cornerback for all 39 snaps – more than half of Ohio State’s 77 total defensive snaps – in which the Buckeyes had at least three cornerbacks on the field in Saturday’s game, marking the second straight week that Wade took on a role with the first-team defense in nickel packages.
Johnson, a true freshman, was the only player to make his Ohio State debut in Saturday’s game, seeing special teams snaps on both the kickoffs and punt block/return units.
Jordan Fuller: 77
Isaiah Pryor: 61
Jahsen Wint: 16
Brendon White: Special teams only
While Fuller played every one of Ohio State’s defensive snaps against the Horned Frogs, Pryor started and played the vast majority of snaps alongside him. That said, the Buckeyes continued to rotate Wint in for some occasional snaps alongside Fuller as well, indicating the battle for that second starting safety spot – though Pryor has started each of the Buckeyes’ first three games, while Wint only started the season opener when Fuller was out with a hamstring injury – isn’t quite over yet.
Field Goals/Extra Points
Sean Nuernberger (kicker)
Drue Chrisman (holder)
Liam McCullough (long snapper)
Luke Farrell (blocker)
Joshua Alabi (blocker)
Gavin Cupp (blocker)
Wyatt Davis (blocker)
Josh Myers (blocker)
Davon Hamilton (blocker)
Kevin Woidke (blocker)
Rashod Berry (blocker)
Ohio State made no changes to its place-kicking unit from the previous game against Rutgers.
Blake Haubeil (kicker)
Jeffrey Okudah or Tyreke Johnson (gunner)
K.J. Hill or Chris Olave (gunner)
Justin Hilliard (gunner)
Keandre Jones (gunner)
Dallas Gant (gunner)
Dante Booker (gunner)
Baron Browning or K’Vaughan Pope (gunner)
Isaiah Pryor (gunner)
Marcus Williamson (gunner)
Jahsen Wint (gunner)
The Buckeyes started Saturday’s game with the same 11 players on their kickoff unit as they did against Rutgers. Pope and Olave also saw playing time on the kickoff unit in each of the Buckeyes’ previous two games, so the only new addition to seeing playing time on the unit against the Horned Frogs was Johnson.
Johnnie Dixon (returner)
C.J. Saunders (returner/blocker)
Luke Farrell (blocker)
Justin Hilliard (blocker)
Rashod Berry (blocker)
Brendon White (blocker)
Dallas Gant (blocker)
Shaun Wade (blocker)
Jahsen Wint (blocker)
Dante Booker (blocker)
Binjimen Victor (blocker)
Ohio State made no changes to its kickoff return unit Saturday, with the exception that Dixon was in the game for every kickoff as the lead returner. Demario McCall, who was in for some returns in place of Dixon in the Buckeyes’ first two games, did not play against TCU.
Drue Chrisman (punter)
Liam McCullough (punter)
Jonathon Cooper (upback) or Marcus Williamson (gunner)
Tuf Borland (upback)
Luke Farrell or Pete Werner (wing)
Malik Harrison (guard/wing)
Justin Hilliard (guard)
Dante Booker (tackle/guard)
Parris Campbell (tackle/gunner)
Terry McLaurin (wing/gunner)
Johnnie Dixon or Jeffrey Okudah (gunner)
For most of Chrisman’s punts on Saturday, the Buckeyes deployed a formation that had every player inside the hashmarks but one, with Dixon – who went on to earn Ohio State's special teams player of the week honors – joining the unit as the outside gunner and as the lone new addition from last week. On one punt, however, the Buckeyes spread out their formation, bringing Okudah and Williamson into the game as the outside gunners with Campbell and McLaurin playing to their insides.
C.J. Saunders (returner)
Marcus Williamson or Keandre Jones (rusher/blocker)
Isaiah Pryor (rusher/blocker)
Shaun Wade (rusher/blocker)
Justin Hilliard (rusher/blocker)
Dante Booker (rusher/blocker)
Dallas Gant (rusher/blocker)
Jahsen Wint (rusher/blocker)
Baron Browning (rusher/blocker)
Tyreke Johnson or Chris Olave (rusher/blocker)
Cameron Brown (rusher/blocker)
After playing one of their top linebackers (Werner) and their three top cornerbacks (Sheffield, Arnette and Okudah) on the punt block/return unit in previous weeks, the Buckeyes decided to swap them out for defensive backups on Saturday, when Browning, Wint, Brown and Johnson all joined the unit. Saunders was also the Buckeyes’ lone punt returner against TCU, as the aforementioned McCall did not play.