Ohio State grade card: Buckeyes improve, but still need more


A grade card on Ohio State’s 41-20 win over Tulsa:

OFFENSE: B-

TreVeyon Henderson’s 277 yards rushing broke Archie Griffin’s freshman single-game rushing record and showed he has the potential to score from anywhere on the field at any time. Henderson started for the first time. Master Teague was the only other Ohio State running back who got a carry.

OSU’s passing game was not nearly as on point as the running game. Quarterback C.J. Stroud was 15 of 25 for 185 yards and a touchdown. He often struggled to find open receivers and threw a bad interception. Chris Olave was targeted four times and did not have a catch for only the second time in the 24 games he has played since the Rose Bowl in his freshman season in 2018.

OSU continued to have problems finishing drives early in games. The Buckeyes have scored only three touchdowns in the first half in their first three games and only one of Stroud’s eight touchdown passes has been in the first half.

DEFENSE: C

There were changes after an alarming defensive performance in the loss to Oregon. Defensive backs coach Matt Barnes replaced defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs as the one making the defensive calls and Coombs worked from the press box. There appeared to be a bigger variety of coverages and a few more blitzes but the defense still needs more improvement if Ohio State is going to play its way into a fifth consecutive Big Ten championship game.

Tulsa quarterback Davis Brin passed for 428 yards and two touchdowns and the curious lack of pressure from OSU’s defensive line continued to be a concern. Ohio State has only four sacks and 11 tackles for losses this season. The defensive backfield had two interceptions and had a third overturned by a replay review.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

Kicker Noah Ruggles was 2 for 2 on a pair of fairly long field goals from 44 yards and 43 yards. Tulsa did not return any of Jesse Mirco’s three punts.

OVERALL: C+

Henderson’s performance was mesmerizing. But OSU had only a one-score lead in the fourth quarter before two late touchdowns made the Buckeyes look more dominating than they were.

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