Florida Atlantic Debriefing: Ohio State Opens Season With Win, But A Lot of Work Needs to Be Done

By David Wertheim on September 1, 2019 at 8:25 am
Dobbins and Company
Joe Maiorana- USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back. I hope your offseason was bearable. Ohio State opened the season with a 45-21 win over Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic yesterday. It was good at the beginning, then it was not as good.

Let's debrief.

The Short Story

Ohio State opened this season in incredible fashion. The Buckeyes scored 28 points in the first quarter, behind a Justin Fields 51-yard touchdown run and three touchdown passes (to Binjimen Victor, Chris Olave, and Jeremy Ruckert).

The Buckeyes offense was then very sluggish, punting five times and fumbling twice before scoring late in the third quarter on another pass from Fields to Ruckert.

FAU scored their first touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Ohio State responded with a J.K. Dobbins touchdown scamper of his own. Both teams traded scores one more time, with FAU adding a two-point conversion on their touchdown while Blake Haubeil banged in a field goal, leading to our final score of 45-21.

Quick Breakdowns


Justin Fields made his Buckeye debut and promptly set the record with five touchdowns to lead the way. Four scores were through the air, as mentioned, and the receivers were open on most of them. Fields made a couple really nice throws but also had some instances where he should have thrown the ball away. 

Dobbins, after a lackluster season a year ago, was just O.K. yesterday. He rushed for 91 yards on 21 carries (4.3 ypc) and added a touchdown. Chris Olave led the receivers with five catches for 68 yards and a score. Jeremy Ruckert scored twice, and Victor had the other passing touchdown reception.


It was kind of a boring day for the Ohio State defense.

Jeff Hafley, Greg Mattison, and co. did not exactly show much. There wasn't a ton of blitzing or anything exotic whatsoever really. Ohio State only gave up 21 points, and several of those were from the second-string defense. 

I think the Buckeye defense did fine, and we will see how they do next week against Cincinnati.

Who Earned a Buckeye Leaf?

Offense: Justin Fields

Fields was pretty solid in his Ohio State debut. He was 18-25 for 234 yards and four touchdowns (with no interceptions). Fields also was good with his legs, rushing 12 times for 61 yards and that long touchdown.

Fields was solid all afternoon. We will see what he does for an encore next week.

Defense: Malik Harrison and Chase Young

It seemed these two were everywhere yesterday. Young led the Buckeyes defensive line effort with five tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a pass breakup. Harrison led the linebackers with five tackles of his own (two TFL) and a sack. 

Josh Proctor also intercepted a pass, and Jeff Okudah was solid all afternoon.

Biggest Surprise


They've been saying it for years. We've been waiting for it for years. But yesterday it happened: Ohio State threw the ball to the tight end.

Jeremy Ruckert caught two touchdowns, as the exciting member of the 2018 recruiting class showed why he was one of the nation's top rated tight ends coming out of high school.

Ruckert finished the game with four catches for 38 yards and two scores. The four catches were second-most on the team (trailing only Chris Olave).

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment

Ah, the air of a new season.

Our favorite ball coach woke up at 6:03 this morning (hit the snooze button at the normal 5:55 time) and immediately started his pre-game ritual.

Jim and Ellen first went to Perkins for a nice breakfast, followed by Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up the new chifferobe. It was a noon game, so Jim settled in on the couch just in time to watch his Buckeyes.

Things were going well at first. The Buckeyes were scoring (although Jim was a little disappointed that three of the four scores were through the air- he prefers literally any other way of scoring), and the defense was holding strong.

Ol' Jimmy got a little restless with the rest of us, though. When the Buckeyes continued to run it for very minimal gain, you could see Jim wince in pain each time the Buckeyes got very few rushing yards on a play.

Ellen left the room, sensing the hostility in the air. Luckily, Ohio State figured it out late in the third quarter and all was well.

Underrated Things

Nobody really looked lost in this one. Last year, even when the Buckeyes won, there were still a lot of things that drove everyone nuts. Today, it can mostly just be attributed to growing pains with a new offensive line, a new quarterback, and a new coaching staff.

The defense looked pretty solid, although there were some mistakes by Florida Atlantic that made the unit look better than normal. Cincinnati and Desmond Ridder will be a big test next week.

Biggest Question Going Forward

Ohio State looked like a championship team through the first four drives, then things stalled. I'm not sure if Ryan Day took his foot off the gas (or if his players did), or if Florida Atlantic figured out the Buckeyes, or what the deal was.

Nevertheless, we will all take a 24-point win, but Ohio State does certainly have a few things to work on: the offensive line was not great, although they did look better late in the game. J.K. Dobbins and Justin Fields still have to figure out the read-option, as well. It seems as though Fields made a few improper reads, resulting in plays that should have gone for big gains not getting anything. 

We will see how the Buckeyes do next week against my hometown team. I've got friends from UC coming up and staying with me for the game. Pray for me. This will be an insufferable week for any Buckeye fan within the 513 city limits. My heart goes out to you all. 

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