Buckeyes lookin’ good in early season performance

Harold Hamilton

        Ohio State football is 184-48-15 all-time and riding a 42-game winning streak against in-state opponents.
        Their last loss was to Oberlin, 7-6, in 1921. The Bucks have played Cincinnati 17 times and won 15.
        One of the last Ohio schools to play the Buckeyes tough was Toledo. In 2011, the Rockets held a 15-7 lead in the second quarter and still led 22-21 late in the fourth when Carlos Hyde scored on a three-yard touchdown with 3:17 remaining for a 27-22 Ohio State victory. The Rockets had more total yards, 338 to 301, but Toledo was hit with 14 penalties for 102 yards to Ohio State’s two for 13 yards.
        Cincinnati tried to be the first in 98 years to close the deal behind head coach, Luke Fickell, who played at Ohio State, in the NFL and then returned to Ohio State as an assistant. He was named interim head coach when former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was suspended in 2011. Fickell became head coach for the Bearcats during the 2013 season.
        Last year Fickell presented the Bearcats with a historic turnaround, their third 11-win season in Cincinnati history and was named American Athletic Conference coach of the year. The Bearcats have a good team and Fickell is a good coach but facing a potential national championship team like Ohio State is tough. The Buckeyes rolled to a 42-0 win to improve to 2-0.
        After the game, Ohio State lost a place in the Associated Press Division I FBS college football poll by dropping from No. 5 to No. 6. Interestingly LSU jumped from No.6 to No. 4 after a very convincing win over No. 9 Texas. LSU is led by Joe Burrow, who has thrown for more yards than any LSU quarterback in the last 18 years.
        You may recall that name. Burrow, from Athens, Ohio, was an Ohio State quarterback patiently waiting for his chance. He had been the best performing quarterback during the Buckeye’s spring game, but he was not named a fall starter, so he transferred to LSU.
        Not saying Burrow is better than Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields but he’s very good and until Fields proved himself in the last two games you had to wonder if the coaches should have tried harder to keep Burrow. It’s hard not to trust former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and first-year coach Ryan Day, however.
        Ohio State first-year coach Ryan Day was a quarterback in high school and college, winning the Gatorade Player of the Year award in high school and set four career records at the University of New Hampshire. He has been an assistant at various colleges and coached quarterbacks in the NFL. He was hired by OSU in 2017 to be offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. In August 2018 he was named interim head coach to replace Meyer when he was placed on administrative leave. After Meyer retired, Day was named the 25th head coach at Ohio State.
        Day is a winner. He has the charisma, attitude and the approach of a confident pro and anyone who doubted his skills will be embarrassed for their negative comments. At the post-game press conference, when asked how good the Buckeyes are, he, like all good coaches early in the year, said “It’s not a finished product by any means but they’re getting there.”
        When asked about the Bearcats, Ryan said there were 105,000 mostly Ohio State fans here today which would overwhelm any team. He added that Cincinnati “is a very good, well-coached team and they played hard and blitzed a lot, but our O-line did an unbelievable job. I think we owned the line of scrimmage today.”
Buckeye’s stars shine
        As for Fields, the new Ohio State quarterback, who played in 12 games as a freshman at the University of Georgia and then transferred to the Buckeyes last January, is now showing that he is everything the experts thought he would be. He scored four touchdowns Saturday, two rushing and two passing which makes a total of nine TDs in the first two games this year.
        Saturday, Fields was alert scanning the field and used eight different receivers. He is smart, as cool as a pro and not afraid to run which returns a factor to OSU that they did not have last year.
        Day did comment, however, “I think the receivers got to do a little bit better job of staying with him and getting open.”
        Two offensive stars were J.K. Dobbins who, after an outstanding freshman year, slowed a bit last year. He said he was very disappointed with his performance last year and vowed to be better this year. He is off to a good start with 17 carries for 141 yards and two TDs against Cincinnati. He is now in 15th place in career rushing at Ohio State. K.J. Hill was equally impressive and is now 15th in career receiving yards. It is still early in the season.
        The defense has shown the naysayers that they are probably better than last year’s group and have held opponents to less than 300 yards for the second week in a row. They forced three red zone turnovers from Cincinnati with only 13 pass completions, an interception and no TDs.
        Top dog and a sure first-round NFL draft pick is junior Chase Young. While he often doesn’t get the sacks, it is because the opponents are keying on him which leaves his teammates free to execute. Young’s aggressive power reminds you of Ohio State’s Bosa brothers, who are now playing in the NFL.
        It seems like every year the OSU pass defense has poor coverage and it takes until November for them to get it together. This year with a new cornerback coach, that does not appear to be a problem.
        This may be the best Buckeye team I have seen this early in the season. They certainly have the potential and player depth to play for the national championship, if the coaches can keep these youngsters focused.
        Cincinnati will also win a lot of games this year, plus they have an up and comer in 6-foot-4, 307-pound freshman offensive lineman Dylan O’Quinn (Lake).
        O’Quinn was a three-star prospect who played tight end and defensive end for coach Mark Emans at Lake. He ranked as one of the top 70 players in Ohio by 247Sports.com and was named Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association third team Division V All-Ohio, first team All-Northwest District and second-team All-Northern Buckeye Conference. Amazingly at Lake, he had played quarterback until his sophomore year and also played basketball and baseball, earning second team All-NBC honors as a junior. He chose UC over offers from Western Michigan, Toledo, Eastern Michigan and Indiana State.
        Photographer Harold Hamilton is a Northwood resident who had media credentials for the Ohio State-Cincinnati game, representing The Press. He can be reached at 419-509-6883, hehphotos@bex.net or heh1@bex.net. His photos can be viewed at www.HEHphotos.smugmug.com.


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