Penn State Week Mic Check: Ryan Day and Josh Myers Opine On Ohio State's Running Game

By Chris Lauderback on October 28, 2020 at 3:05 pm
Master Teague hopes to crank up the Ohio State rushing attack this weekend in Happy Valley
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a 52-17 spanking of Nebraska last Saturday in Ohio State's season opener, the Buckeyes should face a stiffer test this weekend on the road against Penn State. 

The Nittany Lions may have dropped a heartbreaker in Bloomington but James Franklin's crew dominated much of the stat sheet

Glancing back at last weekend's successes and opportunities while looking forward to Penn State, head coach Ryan Day, defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, center Josh Myers and slot receiver Garrett Wilson held court with the assembled media yesterday afternoon. 

A chief topic was the state of the running game after the Buckeyes averaged 3.8 yards per carry in the first half before bouncing back a bit with a 5.5-yard average over the final two quarters. 

"I thought they were solid. I thought as the game went on, they played better."– Ohio State Head Coach Ryan Day on his running backs

Day is saying all the right things but the reality is his top two rushers on the depth chart, Master Teague and Trey Sermon, struggled to get much going in either half. 

The duo combined to average 4.17 yards per carry going for 96 yards on 23 tries. Five of Teague's 11 tries (not including a 1-yard touchdown) went for three yards or less. Sermon? Six of his 11 carries failed to generate more than three yards. 

Teague oftentimes ran right into defenders, hampered by what looks like a lack of shake which is something we saw over the last three games last year against Penn State, Michigan and Clemson when he ran for 2.1 yards on 45 attempts. 

Look, we all understand this was the season opener and it was against a much better opponent than the typical September cupcake but Teague and Sermon need to step it up this weekend in Happy Valley. 

"It was just a weird game. I think there will be a lot of improvement from this past week to the next one."– Ohio State Center Josh Myers on the nebraska game

Sticking with the run game, center Josh Myers likened the Nebraska game (222 rush yards, 4.6 per carry) to last year's opener against Florida Atlantic. 

In that one, the Buckeyes ran for 237 yards on 4.9 per try. J.K. Dobbins, who would go on to rush for 2,003 yards, finished with just 91 on 21 carries, or 4.3 per attempt. 

Myers expects a huge improvement from week one to this Saturday against Penn State and it certainly wouldn't be shocking to see. 

There's little reason to believe Ohio State's offensive line of Thayer Munford, Harry Miller, Myers, Wyatt Davis and Nicholas Petit-Frere can't win the line of scrimmage more often than not. Miller in particular should be more comfortable with a start under his belt. 

What comes next however is Teague and Sermon doing their part to hit the hole, post a higher batting average at making the first guy miss and get into the second level. 

The run game should also be aided by Justin Fields and the receivers keeping teams from crowding the box for fear of getting gashed over the top. 


Of course, a key factor in gashing teams over the top is the health of Chris Olave. 

The junior wide receiver took a shot to the head in the third quarter against the Cornhuskers and did not return to the game although he remained on the sidelines. 

Garrett Wilson sure seemed confident Olave will play on Saturday offering, "I talked to Chris, and he seemed good." 

As you'd expect, Day was a bit more reserved, citing the need for depth in the receiver room to step up should that become necessary. 

Ohio State isn't lacking for talent with Wilson, Jameson Williams, Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Kamryn Babb and Gee Scott Jr. also seeing action last Saturday but it's interesting that Day and Brian Hartline didn't rotate as heavily as we've grown accustom to seeing. 

As 11W's Dan Hope and Matt Gutridge noted in Snap Counts, Olave, Wilson and Williams logged over 70% of the the receiver snaps versus Nebraska. 

Fleming's 19 snaps were likely a tad higher than otherwise planned due to Olave's injury and Smith-Njigba's 17 featured his incredible touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. 

If Olave can't go, Wilson will do his thing no matter what but Ohio State will likely need Williams to have his most meaningful performance as a Buckeye, with an assist from Fleming and Smith-Njigba. 

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