Michigan Notebook: C.J. Stroud Plays Sick, Emotions Boil Over, Cade Stover Moonlights on Defense and TreVeyon Henderson, Garrett Wilson Make Ohio State History

By Dan Hope on November 28, 2021 at 6:00 am
C.J. Stroud

In the aftermath of Ohio State’s loss to Michigan, C.J. Stroud confirmed what had been rumored in the hours leading up to Saturday’s game: He was sick.

“I don’t know what type of sickness I have but I’ve been sick all week. I’ve been just trying to get right, trying to get my voice back,” Stroud said after the game. “Sometimes you gotta play sick.”

While that didn’t stop him from playing the entire game and completing 34 of 49 passing attempts for 394 yards and two touchdowns, it did affect his ability to communicate with his teammates on the field. His voice was hoarse and Michigan Stadium was loud, and he felt that was a big reason why Ohio State had five false start penalties against the Wolverines, which played a role in the Buckeyes only scoring 27 points in their 15-point loss in Ann Arbor.

“I’m using an excuse but I lost my voice earlier in the week and I can’t really yell, so I’m trying my hardest to yell,” Stroud said. “So I don’t really blame my line, I blame it on me for getting sick at the end of the day. So I tried my hardest to be as loud as I possibly could, and when you get yourself out of whack like that, it’s hard to bounce back.”

Ohio State left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, however, said he did not think Stroud should blame himself for the penalties.

“It’s never anyone’s individual fault,” Petit-Frere said. “It’s a team effort at the end of the day. It’s a team game. It’s one of the last team games in all of sports. So I would love to say first of all that it’s not his fault. It’s our fault as a team and as a unit.”

Rivalry emotions run high

After the 2020 edition of The Game was canceled, there was bound to be a little extra bad blood between Ohio State and Michigan in this year’s rivalry game. It was evident after the game that Michigan didn’t take too kindly to some of the comments they had heard dating back to last year – particularly, Ryan Day reportedly saying Ohio State would “hang 100 on them,” which Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson directly referenced during his postgame press conference.

“These guys have been disrespecting us, stepping on our jerseys, talking about hanging 100 on us, doing all the rah-rah, doing all the talk, but we were about it today,” Hutchinson said.

The tensions between the two sides started to boil over at the end of the first half, when there was an altercation between the Buckeyes and Wolverines in the tunnel where both locker rooms are located. Videos captured by 247Sports’ Josh Pate and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit showed players from both teams yelling at each other and giving each other double-bird salutes before going into their teams’ respective locker rooms.

Emotions remained high in the third quarter as the hatred between the two teams seemingly started to be compounded by Ohio State’s frustration as Michigan began to take full control of the game. With the Wolverines on the verge of going up by two scores, Cameron Brown was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for ripping off Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson’s helmet, which set off a melee on the field.

Brown’s reaction came after Wilson grabbed Brown by the ankle, but it was only Brown’s reaction that drew the penalty.

While it could be argued that a flag that should have also been thrown on Wilson or other Michigan players who were involved in the fracas, it was evident that Ohio State lost its composure at times as the game started to get away from the Buckeyes, and safety Bryson Shaw acknowledged that’s something they need to do a better job with in the future.

“We take pride in being disciplined, never let our emotions get the best of us. It’s great to play with emotion, but it’s like they say, you never let emotion play with you. Felt a few times, it got the better of us, which is again disappointing, considering me knowing what kind of guys we have on this team and how much we work the discipline aspect of it,” Shaw said after the game. “It’s disappointing.”

Stover moonlights on defense

Ohio State tight end Cade Stover wore his third different jersey number of the season against Michigan. After he started the year wearing No. 16, Stover switched to No. 8 prior to the Buckeyes’ fifth game of the season against Rutgers, allowing him to play alongside Ryan Watts on special teams. Then, in Ann Arbor, Stover took the field wearing No. 19 – this time, so he could play on defense.

Wearing a number that had not been worn by an Ohio State player on defense since Dallas Gant entered the transfer portal in September, Stover played his first defensive snap for the Buckeyes since 2019 when Ohio State put its goal-line defense on the field in the third quarter. With linebacker depth decimated by injuries as both Palaie Gaoteote and Cade Kacherski were unavailable, Stover lined up at Sam linebacker – the position he was initially recruited to play at Ohio State before he moved to tight end – on the left edge of the defensive line for a 1st-and-goal play from the 1-yard line.

Stover’s inexperience on defense showed on the play, though, as he was blocked into the ground by Michigan tight end Luke Schoonmaker as Hassan Haskins ran by him for a 1-yard touchdown.

Henderson, Wilson make history

While Saturday certainly wasn’t a day of celebration for anyone in the Ohio State football program, two of the Buckeyes’ offensive stars made history with their individual performances against the Wolverines.

By rushing for one touchdown and catching another in Saturday’s game, TreVeyon Henderson tied and then broke Maurice Clarett’s school record for the most touchdowns scored by a true freshman as he reached the end zone for the 18th and 19th times this season. The record-breaking score came on 4th-and-5 with less than five minutes to play in the game as Henderson caught a swing pass from Stroud and raced 10 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

Wilson, meanwhile, topped 1,000 yards in receiving for the season by catching 10 passes for 119 yards – highlighted by a spectacular 25-yard touchdown catch – bringing him to 1,058 receiving yards for the 2021 season. In doing so, Wilson joined Jaxon Smith-Njigba to become the first pair of Ohio State receivers to both reach the 1,000-yard mark in the same season, while becoming just the seventh receiver in school history to reach that milestone in a single season.

Smith-Njigba also had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game and sixth overall 100-yard game of the season with 11 receptions for 127 yards against the Wolverines. He’s just the third wide receiver in Ohio State history to top 100 receiving yards in four straight games, joining Wilson in 2020 and Cris Carter, who had a school-record five consecutive 100-yard games in 1986. For the 2021 season as a whole, Smith-Njigba has now accumulated 1,259 receiving yards, the third-most in a single season behind only David Boston (1,435 in 1998) and Terry Glenn (1,411 in 1995).

With Chris Olave sitting at 936 receiving yards for the season, Ohio State could become the sixth team in Football Bowl Subdivision history with three 1,000-yard receivers in a single season if Olave gains 64 receiving yards or more in the Buckeyes’ bowl game.

View 71 Comments