Malcolm Pridgeon wakes up every morning — especially Saturday mornings — with a smile on his face, relishing his role with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Maybe that’s why fellow offensive lineman Isaiah Prince said of Pridgeon, “If you have a problem with Malcolm Pridgeon, you’re a hater. He’s a cool guy. You can’t not like Malcolm.”
In his third year with the program, the fifth-year senior Pridgeon finally has a starting job at left guard, and he has made the most of it. His block in the third quarter freed Parris Campbell, who turned a short pass into a 63-yard touchdown against Texas Christian. The play turned the momentum in favor of the Buckeyes, who scored three touchdowns in a four-minute span on their way to a 40-28 victory Saturday.
“As soon as I made the block, I knew he was gone,” Pridgeon said Tuesday. “It was a great feeling.”
The entire offensive line shares Pridgeon’s attitude three games into the season. No. 4 Ohio State has scored 169 points. Their 56.3 scoring average ranks second in the nation.
Pridgeon, left tackle Thayer Munford, center Michael Jordan, right guard Demetrius Knox and the right tackle Prince — all of whom earned champion grades for their play against TCU — deserve a big share of the credit.
The running game ranks 17th in the country (260.7 yards per game). The pass attack ranks ninth (348.0). Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been sacked only twice.
The Buckeyes survived their first real challenge of the season in Texas. After setting for two field goals in the first half, the offense scored three touchdowns in the second half. K.J. Hill caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Haskins four minutes after the score by Campbell. Haskins gave the Buckeyes a cushion in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run.
“That was definitely a test,” Prince said. “As coach (Ryan) Day said, when you go into big games, you’ve got to be prepared to get hit. There were a couple times we got hit, and nobody flinched. We kept going. We kept hitting back. The more we got hit, the more we kept swinging hard. That’s a testament to the offensive line and how hard we’re playing. We’re tough guys.”
Ohio State trailed in the second half for the first time since the regular-season finale last year at Michigan. Haskins led that comeback as well. Prince, Knox and Jordan also were on the field for that rally. The experience paid off Saturday.
“We stayed calm,” Prince said. “There’s a lot of older guys and returning starters. I feel we’ve been in every possible football situation over the course of our career — I know me especially. That was nothing new to me. The environment was nothing new to me. We all knew how to handle the situation.”
The Buckeyes (3-0) play Tulane (1-2) at 3:30 p.m. game Saturday. The offense should pad its stats even more against the Green Wave, who allow 465.3 yards per game, ranking 109th out of 129 teams in total defense.
A bigger test will come next week when Ohio State plays at Penn State, which ranks 38th (324 yards per game).
“I think right now we’re in a really good place,” Prince said, “but we haven’t showed everybody what we really can do. I think as the season goes on, we’re going to to to get better. You guys got to watch out. We’ve got big stuff coming.”