Skull Session: C.J. Stroud Has a Golden Arm, Ohio State’s Defense Has Transformed Under Jim Knowles and Marvin Harrison Jr. Continues to Shine

By Chase Brown on October 13, 2022 at 5:00 am
C.J. Stroud

Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV was born with an incredible arm.

His arm allows him to throw fastballs and drop dimes with incredible touch. It's what makes Stroud the best quarterback in the country.

At the end of the season, we may even call his arm golden. With how well Stroud has been playing this year, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't take home such a prize.

Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?

 DECISIONS, DECISIONS. On Wednesday, Ohio State's Big Ten Network Twitter page posted an interesting poll that asked fans to choose the best performance from a Buckeye running back in recent history.

 KEEP ON KEEPING ON. Despite a small sample size, it's clear the Ohio State defense has looked much better than a season ago, and I can confidently say The Mad Scientist was as advertised.

Under Jim Knowles, the Buckeyes have the No. 7 total defense and No. 15 scoring defense through six weeks this season, allowing 253.5 yards and 15.7 points per game. Both metrics are tremendous improvements from 2021 when the Kerry Coombs-led unit finished 59th and 38th in the respective categories last year.

What has led to the transformation in statistical production? Well, many different things. A new scheme, Tommy Eichenberg beating the brakes off any player he sees, Steele Chambers reaching supersonic speed once the ball is snapped and Mike Hall Jr. bouncing around like a bull in a china shop, to name a few.

But when it is boiled down, the Buckeye defense makes more stops than in years past. According to Max Olson of The Athletic, Ohio State has a stop rate of 78.1% this season – good for 10th in the nation.

What is stop rate? It’s a basic measurement of success: the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs. This simple metric can offer a more accurate reflection of a defense’s effectiveness in today’s faster-tempo game than yards per game or points per game. We’ve been tracking this for each of the past five seasons (here are the final standings for 20212020, 20192018 and 2017) along with every defense's points per drive. * note: only games against FBS opponents count toward the data.

CFB Stop Rate Through Week 6
1 MINNESOTA 4 40 85% 0.85
2 MICHIGAN 6 72 83.3% 0.94
3 SAN JOSE STATE 4 46 82.6% 1.02
4 ILLINOIS 5 65 81.5 0.74
5 PENN STATE 5 64 81.2% 1.05
6 ALABAMA 6 84 81% 0.89
7 JAMES MADISON 4 56 80.4% 1.21
8 IOWA STATE 5 60 80% 1.20
9 IOWA 5 59 79.7% 0.95
10 OHIO STATE 6 73 78.1% 1.19

The Buckeyes are making stops this season and making them often. Perhaps the most impressive note of this stat is that Ohio State only falls behind Alabama (84) for the most drives defended among the top 10 at 73, making the 78.1% that much more impressive.

Through six games, Knowles has lived up to the expectations that have surrounded him since Ohio State backed up the Brinks truck for him in January, and that's a mighty good sign for the Buckeyes.

One other note: Ohio State will meet Penn State and Michigan in the season's second half. The Nittany Lions are No. 5 in stop rate, while the Wolverines are No. 2. The Buckeyes’ offense, well-documented as awesome sauce, will need to be excellent to beat their two regular-season opponents currently ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll.

 BEHIND THE STICKERS. When Ohio State releases “The Stories Behind the Stickers” videos to its Twitter account, it's an instant watch for me. They're special to me for a reason I cannot explain. Perhaps it's because the Buckeyes featured in them have a chance to flex for a little bit and soak in the limelight.

Marvin Harrison was the Buckeye of choice in this week's iteration. While he's had plenty of time to flex this season and has spent his fair share of time in the limelight, the sophomore wide receiver still has the humility of the other Ohio State players featured in the past.

 PAY THE RANSOM. Lathan Ransom defied logic this offseason by returning from a devastating broken leg he suffered in Ohio State's Rose Bowl win over Utah in a matter of months.

He worked hard after hours to train and rehabilitate his body and mind to perform at the highest level. Six weeks into the 2022 season, he sees the fruit of that labor. According to Pro Football Focus, Ransom was the highest-graded safety in college football in the first half of the season with an 85.1 grade.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.

 CUT TO THE CHASE. Raiders’ Davante Adams charged for shoving photographer... Scientists grow human brain cells in rats to study diseases... Concentrating on contact, not power, Guardians an anomaly (Go Guards)... ACT scores continue to decline, dropping to lowest levels in 30 years... Gannett, owner of USA TODAY, continues cost-cutting measures.

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