A Monday morning grade card on Ohio State’s 40-28 win over Texas Christian University on a day when it got by far the toughest test it had faced this season.
Scoring 40 points ordinarily might get the offense a little higher grade, but two of Ohio State’s touchdowns belonged to the defense on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Davon Hamilton and the other came on a pass interception by Dre’Mont Jones. And a third was set up by the defense with a blocked punt deep in TCU’s territory.
Dwayne Haskins, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns responded well in his first road start against much better defensive players than he saw against Oregon State and Rutgers. He had a solid game but was not as ridiculously awesome as he was in his first two starts.
His receivers didn’t help his statistics, though, led by Austin Mack who had four drops.
Moving Michael Jordan to center from guard has allowed Ohio State to get its five best offensive linemen on the field but he still needs some work on long snaps. Haskins had to do a Francisco Lindor imitation a few too many times on Saturday.
J.K. Dobbins (121 yards on 18 carries) had his best game of the season and showed the ability to make tacklers miss that helped him set the OSU freshman rushing record last year.
Ohio State’s defensive line did what it has done all year, even when Nick Bosa was forced out of the game early in the second half by an injury.
Jones had six tackles, a sack, two tackles for losses and the pick six during a four-minute span in the third quarter when Ohio State put 20 points on the scoreboard. Bosa had a strip sack of Rutgers quarterback Shawn Robinson that led to Hamilton’s touchdown and Jonathon Cooper had a sack.
But Ohio State’s linebackers and defensive backs made some of the same mistakes that have been a problem all season. Most noticeably, they were caught out of position too often and did not tackle well in the open field.
The result was too many big plays. TCU had six plays of 10 yards or more in the first half and seven of more than 10 yards in the second half. Darius Anderson’s 93-yard touchdown run came two weeks after the Buckeyes allowed touchdown runs of 80 yards and 78 yards against Oregon State.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
The best thing Ohio State did on special teams was to contain TCU return man KaVontae Turpin, who has five kick returns for touchdowns in his career. He did not have a punt return on Saturday night and his longest kickoff return was 19 yards.
Kicker Sean Nuernberger missed a 38-yard field goal, which is a concern because throughout his career, kicks of around 40 yards or more have not been a strength for him.
Punter Drue Chrisman pinned TCU inside the 10-yard line twice. But he also got off a 34-yarder another time.
It wasn’t perfect, but winning away from home against a good team without your head coach is nothing to complain too much about.