The next step in redefining the offense for Ohio State will come Saturday when the No. 5 Buckeyes host Youngstown State in Columbus.
Replacing C.J. Stroud, now the rookie starting quarterback for the Houston Texans, wasn’t going to be easy, and the Buckeyes (1-0) learned how difficult it was in an unimpressive 23-3 win over Indiana last week.
Kyle McCord, who has won the QB battle — for now — over Devin Brown, was 20-for-33 for 239 yards and no touchdowns, with one interception.
“I think we both felt the same way,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “There were some good moments and good throws and some things you’d want back.”
Stroud in the past two seasons threw 85 touchdown passes in 25 games for the Buckeyes.
Day said Tuesday that McCord will start against Youngstown State (1-0) but that Brown, who took six snaps — three on the Buckeyes’ final drive of the game — should get more playing time as the competition continues.
Youngstown State, of the Missouri Valley Conference, had no problem scoring in a 52-10 rout of Valparaiso on Aug. 31.
Penguins coach Doug Phillips, the defensive quality-control coach for Ohio State when Jim Tressel was head coach in 2006, is looking for improvement every game, just like last season. Youngstown State won five of its final six games to finish 7-4, four more wins than in 2021.
“The month of September, we’re trying to figure out who we are, what we can do,” Phillips said. “It’s not last year’s team. It’s a new team.”
Tyshon King rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns against Valparaiso while Mitch Davidson threw for 130 yards and one TD.
The Penguins recovered three fumbles in the third quarter, leading to 28 points.
All that should give them confidence, but Valparaiso isn’t Ohio State, even if Day described the offense against Indiana as “clunky.”
Youngstown State might become a victim of a Marvin Harrison showcase. The All-America candidate receiver was held to two catches for 18 yards and was targeted just eight times against Indiana.
“We will continue to find ways to be creative and get him the ball,” Day said. “Teams are going to take him away, too. When that happens, that’s where other guys have to step up.”
One of them was linebacker-turned-tight end Cade Stover, who had 98 yards on five catches last week.
Youngstown State returns six receivers who combined for 118 receptions last season. Bryce Oliver led the Penguins with five catches for 65 yards against Valparaiso, but the key to staying in the game against the Buckeyes could be how well they can run the ball and control the clock.
The Penguins rushed for 303 yards (7.4 yards per carry) in their opener. Ohio State limited Indiana to 153 total yards, including 71 on the ground (2.2-yard average).
The Ohio State offensive line, with three new starters, will look for redemption after the Buckeyes were stopped three times on third-and 2 or less while going 2-for-12 on third-down conversions.
“I felt like they needed to play better,” Day said. “It was good enough to win in this game, but it won’t be good enough going forward to reach our goals.”
–Field Level Media