Ohio State Freshmen Shine in Win Over Akron

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Ohio State finally looked like a top-ten program against Akron, defeating the in-state opponents 59-7.

True freshman Kyle McCord made the start and looked a little shaky at the beginning. Akron took advantage of McCord’s slow start and took an early 7-0 lead. After that, McCord settled down and Ohio State went on to score touchdowns on four straight drives.

Through the rest of the first half, McCord threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns. TreVeyon Henderson started at running back and had 93 yards with two touchdowns in the first half as well.

Jack Miller came in partway through the third quarter, and the Buckeyes kept scoring. After giving up the initial touchdown, Ohio State scored 59 unanswered points in what turned out to be a blowout.

Zips quarterback Demarcus Irons never had much time to throw. Many times, he would have pressure in his face as soon as he completed his dropback. When he did get the throw-off, his receivers would let catchable passes fall to the turf, or worse, into the arms of an Ohio State defender.

C.J. Stroud missed the game with a shoulder injury, so Ryan Day decided to rest him. If McCord was going to win the job out from under Stroud, this was the game. But considering the level of competition, it’s hard to say if McCord made any headway at all. Stroud never got the chance to play anyone as weak as Akron. If nothing else, McCord got some live reps, just in case he has to relieve Stroud for any reason.

With as many close games as Ohio State has been in this year, it was nice to see the Buckeyes dominate. Ohio State saw garbage time against Akron for what seemed like the first time in two years.

The rest was a big deal for some veterans, like Stroud, Thayer Munford, and Cameron Brown.

Ohio State Freshmen Shine in Win Over Akron

Kyle McCord Makes his Ohio State Debut

For the first time since 2011, a true freshman quarterback got the start under center. McCord ended the game going 13 for 18 with 319 yards and two touchdowns.

McCord showed his nerves on the first drive. His first passing attempt was a badly misplaced screen to Chris Olave that went behind the line, which was ruled a fumble that cost the offense six yards.

After that, McCord settled down and completed 10 of his next 14 and led four straight touchdown drives. 

At the end of the first half, the Buckeyes got the ball around midfield with 14 seconds left. McCord lobbed a 39-yard pass to Garrett Wilson to give Noah Ruggles an easy field goal as time expired. Day wanted to see McCord in action with under a minute to go and must be happy with what he saw.

The Defensive Line Lived Up to the Hype

Ohio State only had four sacks in their previous three games. They matched that number in the first half against Akron. In total, the Buckeyes had eight sacks against the Zips.  The defensive line finally looked like what a defensive line is supposed to look like.

Zach Harrison and Haskell Garrett had been fairly quiet this season but combined for several sacks and tackles for losses. The defensive line played so well, the secondary didn’t get much work.

Even when Akron was able to throw, they couldn’t get the ball to the secondary. Cody Simon and Ronnie Hickman both recorded interceptions, matching the season total from the previous three games in just one half.

Akron went the entire second quarter without a completed pass.

Freshmen Shine for Ohio State

With McCord and Henderson both starting, it was the first time in Ohio State history that the starting quarterback and running back were both true freshmen. Henderson only played in the first half, but recorded 93 yards on only eight carries with two touchdowns.

Emeka Egbuka recorded his first career reception early in the third quarter. He extended it to an 85-yard reception, and probably would have been a touchdown if he hadn’t slipped on the turf inside the five-yard line. Egbuka was the top-ranked receiver in the 2021 recruiting class but has been sitting behind the other talented receivers in Columbus. But his 85-yard catch probably helped his case for more playing time.

Miller got some late action in the second half, and like Stroud in the season opener, got his first career passing attempt. He had a few rushes in 2020 but completed six of eight for 66 yards.

J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer had some significant playing time at defensive end. As the season progresses, they could see more and more playing time, as they were two of the top five players in the 2021 recruiting class.

Towards the end of the game, Day substituted a lot of young players in, so other highly rated freshmen like Marvin Harrison Jr., Donovan Jackson, and Tyleik Williams got some game action.