COLUMBUS, Ohio — The interminably long offseason is officially over, and Ohio State has charged out of the gates with what turned out to be a comfortable victory.
As always, there is plenty to learn from the first game of the season. So what did the 49-21 win on Thursday night at Indiana reveal about the No. 2 Buckeyes?
Let’s start with these five takeaways:
1. The J.K. Dobbins hype is real
Put aside for the moment what the record-breaking debut for the freshman tailback means for Ohio State’s plans in the backfield. What Dobbins did after being thrust into the starting lineup because of Mike Weber’s sore hamstrings deserves some extra appreciation on its own before the inevitable controversy about who should be listed on top of the depth chart ramps up.
It seemed possible that all the buzz about the maturity of Dobbins, his speed, vision and power could have been setting the bar too high for him. But his first game proved it all to be true after 181 rushing yards and 24 more as a receiver helped etch his name into the school record books for opening performances. The Buckeyes were promising they had a dangerous new weapon throughout training camp, and now the world knows they weren’t lying.
2. The defensive line is even deeper than anticipated
Any unit that can nominally turn Nick Bosa into a backup is obviously loaded from the jump, and much already has been made about Ohio State’s rotation up front to keep its linemen fresh. But it turns out the Buckeyes have even more talented bodies in the mix than previously imagined, with guys such as Jashon Cornell, Jonathan Cooper and freshman Chase Young factoring into the equation by playing significant snaps.
Cornell, in particular, appears poised now to deliver on the immense promise he showed as a recruit. The sophomore chipped in a sack and a forced fumble to announce his presence on the interior for Ohio State, which hardly even seemed to miss the suspended Michael Hill.
3. There’s big-play potential at wide receiver
Zach Smith’s position group isn’t a finished product yet, and he can point to a few key drops as a reminder of that when they get back to work on the practice field. The Buckeyes have the physical skills to bust open a game, though, most notably some speed to burn with Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon leading the way.
Both of those veterans were guilty of putting easy catches on the ground, including a surefire touchdown on a deep throw from J.T. Barrett by Campbell. But both bounced back in major ways, Campbell with a blinding 74-yard catch-and-run for a score and Dixon with a 59-yard strike to the end zone. If Barrett can keep finding those targets in space, opponents are going to have trouble chasing them down.
4. The secondary will be better off after the early test
Maybe other teams will see how Indiana attacked the Buckeyes through the air and unleash aerial barrages of their own throughout the season. But odds are, Ohio State won’t face many more games that include 68 passing attempts, if any at all. So, the Hoosiers may have done the Buckeyes a favor by giving two new starting cornerbacks and a few new contributors at safety a bunch of extra reps to speed up the development.
Indiana had some success, as those 410 yards and 3 passing touchdowns will attest. But there’s also a risk of throwing that much against talented defensive backs, obviously, and Denzel Ward and Jordan Fuller came up with key interceptions for a defense that collectively broke up 11 throws. There were some growing pains for Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette and even Ward. But there was also a glimpse at the potential for all of them, and the future looks bright.
5. J.T. Barrett is going to keep smashing records
Like seemingly everybody else in Week 1, the Buckeyes needed some time to find their footing in the early going. That even includes the redshirt senior quarterback who has played so many games in his career and is already one of the most decorated performers in Big Ten history.
But once Barrett settled in and the offense found some rhythm, he offered a clear reminder of why he’s perfectly suited to leading Urban Meyer’s attack. He made good decisions, efficiently distributed the football, picked up key yardage on the ground when it was needed and accounted for 4 touchdowns in yet another ho-hum conference win on the road. His final year with the Buckeyes is shaping up to include a lot more records with his name on them.
The post 5 lessons learned about Ohio State as it prepares for Week 2 clash with Oklahoma appeared first on Land of 10.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.