Ohio State football: 5 things to know about season-opening win

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Combined ShapeCaption
Ohio State quarterback speaks at press conference after 45-21 victory against Florida Atlantic.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State football wasted little time getting on the scoreboard or into the win column Saturday.

The fifth-ranked Buckeyes blasted Florida Atlantic 45-21, riding a hot start to an easy win that included plenty of explosive plays and coachable moments in front of 103,228.

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Here are five things to know about the victory:

1. Ohio State accomplished a lot in a short amount of time on its opening drive.

A strong run by J.K. Dobbins? Check.

Backup running back Demario McCall making someone miss? Yes.

Pass to the tight end? Check.

Big holes from a new-look offensive line? You bet.

Then Justin Fields ran 51 yards for a touchdown, confirming the quarterback run would again be a big part of the offense after a one-year hiatus.

The Buckeyes outgained the Owls 220 to negative-4 in the opening 15 minutes, but more importantly they punctuated each of their first four possessions with touchdowns.

“I thought he performed well playing with great energy, making good decisions, but more importantly managing the game, taking care of the ball,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said of Fields. “That’s the biggest thing. So the big plays will come.”

2. Fields showed off his arm, too.

Barely two minutes after his touchdown run, Fields hooked up with Jeremy Ruckert from 25 yards out for his first touchdown pass in scarlet and gray.

His second came when he found Binjimen Victor with a 32-yard touchdown pass at the 9:12 mark of the first quarter.

Fields completed the first quarter hat trick with a 29-yard touchdown toss to Chris Olave, who badly beat a defensive back on a post pattern to put Ohio State ahead 28-0 less than halfway into the first quarter.

Fields finished with 234 yards passing and four touchdowns through the air to go with the one on the ground. He also ran for 61 yards.

“I think I did good overall,” he said. “Of course there’s always room to improve but we just have to keep working as a unit and just keep getting better in all aspects of the game.”

3. A slump followed Ohio State’s scintillating start.

After scoring on their first four possessions, the Buckeyes were shut out on their next six (not counting when they ran out the clock to end the second quarter).

Fields broke that streak by finding Ruckert in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown that came from what now qualifies as an old-school formation for the Buckeyes, who had three tight ends on the field.

This was the first drive of the day in which Ohio State had to grind for a score, and Fields was the key player.

He picked up a pair of first downs with his feet and secured another one with an 11-yard pass to Austin Mack.

Fields completed 3 of 4 passes on the drive for 19 yards and ran for 21 yards.

“A lot of times today the defense we were seeing was very different than what we see in practice,” Day said. “It was a three-down front and they were dropping eight some. And so the windows weren’t as clean, and he had to scramble sometimes, had to keep us on schedule.”

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Combined ShapeCaption
Buckeyes head coach speaks at press conference after 45-21 victory against Florida Atlantic.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

4. Defense gave up only one chunk play before second team defense took over completely

This was a major storyline a year ago as inability to stop big plays was the Achilles heel of an Ohio State defense that allowed more points and yards than any to come before it.

The only explosive play the Owls managed in the first three quarters was a 26-yard pass from Chris Robison to Harrison Bryant. They had three more in the fourth quarter after the second-team defense took over.

“I thought we ran to the ball early on, and then our second team came in a little bit and let them come down the field, and we can’t let that happen,” Day said. “We’ve got to play with depth this season. So a lot to learn from. First step, but we’re 1-0. Good start, but first step in a long journey.”

5. The Buckeyes lost the turnover battle.

The biggest downside of the day was a pair of fumbles lost, one on a screen pass that ended up being a lateral.

The other came when Dobbins was hit hard from behind while fighting for more yards. He lost the ball, the Owls recovered and ended up getting a field goal out of the possession.

“I thought he ran it good,” Day said of Dobbins. “I’m going to watch the film and see. The ball on the ground is unacceptable. We can’t have that. I thought he ran hard, though, at times, harder than I’ve seen him run in the past.”

Ohio State forced one turnover, a diving interception by reserve safety Josh Proctor late in the fourth quarter.


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