In a game where many of the starters only played until midway through the second quarter and second-stringers played more than the first-team, it’s hard to pin point just how good (or bad) some parts of the offense or defense were. But, given that Ohio State dominated UNLV, 54-21, I examined a lot of the good, a little of the bad, and none of the ugly in the Buckeyes’ third win of the season on Saturday.
The redshirt senior has had his fair share of struggles so far this season, but he dominated on Saturday. Granted, it was against a lousy UNLV team, but in less than two quarters, Barrett completed 12-of-17 passes for 209 yards and five touchdowns before he was pulled with a couple minutes remaining in the second quarter and with the Buckeyes holding a 37-0 lead.
Much like Barrett, Dobbins also only played in the first half. But, he made the most of it, totaling 95 yards on 14 carries. He didn’t have any highlight-reel plays like he had in the first three weeks of the season, but the true freshman still showed that he can be counted on.
Dwayne Haskins’ arm
Throughout Urban Meyer’s time at Ohio State, he has been known to give his backup quarterbacks some playing time in blowouts, either to prove themselves or to just gain experience. Over two quarters worth of time in a single game rarely ever happens, but that’s what Haskins was given on Saturday.
In just over a half, he completed 15-of-23 passes for 228 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception (pick-six). While he struggled at times due to his inexperience, the playing time will likely turn into good things down the road.
His first career touchdown pass where he threaded the needle proved that he can turn into a very good quarterback.
“I didn’t even know I threw a touchdown until after it happened,” he said. “But once we scored and I got back to the sideline, it was a pretty special moment.”
Meyer wasn’t happen with Haskins’ interception that turned into a pick-six.
“I think Dwayne played pretty good. That’s inexcusable. Throw it right to the guy,” he said. “Obviously it’s a young player, a freshman. And they’ve gotta go through that.
Although Haskins was his main quarterback and he only played with the backups, Saunders made the most of his opportunity and may have just done enough to receive some significant playing time going forward.
The wide out collected six receptions for 102 yards (both of which led the team) and a touchdown against UNLV.
The head coach commented on Saunders’ performance following the game, admitting that he still must get stronger if he wants to play during significant points in a game.
“He’s actually a good player. His body, wish we could do something to get him a little stronger and more strength, because he’s a really good player, just not very big. Coach Mick is working hard at that.”
Either way, Saunders is ready if his number ever gets called at a key moment in the future.
“I was going to every game, just hoping to get that opportunity,” the wide out said. “The coaches always talk about competitive excellence and being ready when your number’s called.”
Speed kills, guys. Like he has throughout the early season so far, Campbell made plays due to his speed alone. He had three catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown catch was entirely due to how fast he is.
The receiver also could have had another potential touchdown but fumbled the ball at the one-yard line. If he can fix up his fumbles and dropped passes, Campbell can be one heckuva receiver going forward.
The defensive lineman that turned into a tight end had quite the day. In his first time receiving significant playing time, Berry totaled three catches for 57 yards and one touchdown. His first career touchdown was quite impressive. It was not only very athletic, but you would have never known that he was recruited as a defensive lineman.
Meyer is impressed by how talented Berry is as a tight end. Maybe, just maybe, he can play in some significant time this season after showing what he can do with the ball.
“A very talented guy, that is coming and coming and coming. I wish it happened yesterday, but you see the talent,” he said. “He runs through people, but then he laid it on the ground one time going in. So, a very talented guy. I love his attitude right now.
Ohio State’s passing attack
Seven touchdowns through the air is good, but the fact that they were to seven different receivers is incredible. The Buckeyes set a Big Ten record with their seven passing touchdowns to seven different receivers on Saturday.
Converting 3-of-4 fourth-down opportunities is quite impressive, no matter who the opponent is. Whether it was Barrett’s good decision making, Dobbins’ ability to make plays, or plenty of other things, Meyer proved that he trusted his offense and they returned the favor by converting for a first down.
Almost any of the first-team defense could have been named here, but Bosa stuck out the most. The sophomore had four tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, and one pass breakup in just one half of work. He, along with the rest of the defensive line, wreaked havoc all day long.
Even with his impressive play so far this season, the defensive end stated after the game that he is still in the film room every day looking to improve as much as possible.
“I’m always focusing on what I have to do to improve in my position. I’m in the film room every day focusing on how I can improve,” Bosa said. “I’m close, but I still have a lot to work on. ”
Arnette led the secondary in shutting out UNLV when the first-team defense was in the game. He had four tackles and an interception on Saturday.
Ohio State’s secondary has struggled mightily in defending the air attack so far this season, but they stepped up against UNLV. They allowed UNLV to complete 11-of-20 passes for just 88 passing yards. Hopefully this can be used as a confidence booster moving forward.
The defense allowed UNLV to convert on just 3-of-13 third-down opportunities. That’s good no matter who you’re going up against.
Punters will never receive the credit they deserve and will only be hated on when they do something wrong, but Chrisman has been very impressive so far this season. On Saturday, he had two punts for an average of 47.5 yards per punt, both of which landed inside the 15-yard line.
If a team has a punter that can flip field position like Chrisman has so far, that’s a huge advantage.
Dwayne Haskins’ decision making (at times)
Although he showed signs that he can be a legitimate quarterback very soon, Haskins also proved why he’s the backup at times as well. Granted, his inexperience was a factor and he will only improve with the more time he is given, but for those that called that Haskins should start over Barrett, they were somewhat silenced and shown why that won’t happen.
The offense impressed for much of Saturday’s game, but they struggled on third down and converted just 3-of-11 third-down opportunities. They have to be more efficient than that against better competition.
Four red-zone touchdowns is good, but when you have eight red-zone opportunities and convert on only five of them (four touchdowns, one field goal), that’s another part of the offense that must improve going forward. Then again, some of these opportunities were when the second-team offense was in as well, so that must be taken into consideration.
Second-team offense and defense
Many of Ohio State’s starters were taken out of the game when Ohio State took a 37-0 lead with just under nine minutes remaining in the second quarter, and the rest were pulled by halftime. That meant that the second-team offense and defense received plenty of playing time.
Although you could say that that also meant that Ohio State’s second team went against UNLV’s starters for some of the game, that still shouldn’t be an excuse for the fact that the backups were outscored, 21-17 in two-and-a-half quarters. Then again, at that point, the score doesn’t matter. The experience is what matters most and could prove costly as the season goes on.
Alright, now I’m just being picky, but eight penalites that turned into 85 yards isn’t ideal. Then again, many of these were the second-stringers as well.
UNLV quarterback Tony Sanchez
Ohio State fans know how loud the Shoe can be, but for some reason, the UNLV quarterback thought he would call out Buckeye Nation following the game and said that the stadium wasn’t that loud.
“We won’t play a faster team (OSU), especially in all three phases. This is the fastest team you’ll see,” he said. “No team we play is going to run on all three phases the way these guys run. And nobody is going to have the depth these guys have.”
Maybe, just maybe, it was because Ohio State dominated you from start to finish? That’s just a guess.
Maybe the fact that it was 90-plus degrees in late September. Besides that, there’s was nothing too ugly from Saturday’s win.