Ah, it's good to finally be writing again.
Welcome to 2020. In case you haven't heard, there's a worldwide pandemic. Unfortunately, this means I was unable to attend yesterday's ballgame. However, I was watching on television, and I saw the #local #team pull out a nice victory. This Justin Fields guy seems pretty good as well.
#VARSITY is finally back. The Buckeyes are 1-0. Let's debrief.
The Short Story
Nebraska started things out in a hurry, taking the opening possession 75 yards in four plays (1:51 TOP), capped off by a 10-yard touchdown run by Adrian Martinez. The Buckeyes followed that up with two touchdown drives of their own, before Nebraska answered to make it 14-14.
Ohio State then outscored Nebraska 38-3 the rest of the way to take over a close game, turning it into a commanding victory.
Justin Fields began his presumptive last season as a college football quarterback throwing for 276 yards with just one incompletion (20-21, 237.1 RTG). He was probably the second-best player on the field yesterday, behind long snapper Bradley Robinson, who stepped in for Liam McCullough and was quite methodical in his first-ever start.
Accurate all afternoon and making big plays with his legs as well, Fields spread the ball around to eight different receivers and did not turn the ball over as the Buckeyes racked up 52 points.
Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave both went over 100 yards receiving, and true freshman Jaxon Smith-Njigba perhaps had the catch of the year in his first collegiate game.
The Ohio State running game, however, was largely disappointing. Master Teague, in his first game as the starting running back, rushed for two touchdowns but tallied just 3.4 yards per carry, the worst mark for any Ohio State ball carrier on the day.
Teague, as mentioned in the Nebraska Roundtable by Kevin, Ramzy and myself, is very good at running straight and fast. However, anything lateral is not his strong suit. There were times when he tried to make cuts and legitimately had to come to almost a complete stop before attempting the cut.
Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon looked a little better, with 11 carries for 55 yards, but the running back who showed the most juice on the day was probably Steele Chambers, who had 32 yards on just four carries.
Player of the Game: Justin Fields
As mentioned earlier, Ohio State's defense started off horribly, with flashbacks of 2018 running through Buckeye fans' heads. The pass rush was relatively non-existent at the beginning of the game, and Nebraska ripped off chunk plays. The Buckeyes, to their credit, tightened it up quickly and allowed just three points in the final 38 minutes of the game.
Haskell Garrett, after being shot in the face just two months ago, led the Buckeyes defensively with a sack and numerous other pressures, and senior Jonathon Cooper knocked out a ball that Sevyn Banks returned for a touchdown.
We didn't hear much from Shaun Wade and Cameron Brown on the outside, which is obviously a good thing as it means that Nebraska's wideouts were kept in check.
Player of the Game: Haskell Garrett
It Was Over When...
Ohio State scored on its first possession of the second half. The Buckeyes were up just 10 points at the half, but quickly marched down the field on eight plays (3:36), capped off by a Justin Fields twisting-and-turning 17-yard touchdown scamper.
Nebraska then turned it over on its next possession, the fumble return that went for a touchdown by Sevyn Banks.
Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment
Jim has been busy navigating the COVID-19 crisis as the president of Youngstown State University, but of course he and Ellen still found time to watch the Buckeyes after a nice breakfast at Perkins.
Tress wasn't too concerned with the defense, as he figured Kerry Coombs and Greg Mattison would turn things around, but he was a little worried about the running game.
"It seems as though the Buckeyes need to get more yards on these rushes. Ideally, you would get more than three yards per carry," Jim pointed out.
Hopefully, the Buckeyes pound it on the ground next week so Jim can ease his worries a little bit. Also, did you see him in that commercial with Urban Meyer? Looking good, bro.
Biggest Questions Going Forward
I'd argue that the biggest questions going forward are actually the same ones most of us had before the game started: what will the rushing attack look like, and will the Buckeyes be able to generate a consistent pass rush?
These were my two biggest questions before the season started and neither looked incredibly promising in game one. Penn State, despite their loss to Indiana yesterday, has always played the Buckeyes tough and it will no doubt be an intense battle under the lights in Happy Valley next Saturday night. Buckle up. Buckeye football = back.