Ohio State mid-season grade card
C.J. Stroud has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,737 yards and 24 touchdowns this season and has led Ohio State to a 6-0 record. He passed for six touchdowns against Michigan State, which made him the first Ohio State QB ever to do that three times, and had five touchdown throws against Toledo and Wisconsin. A second half of the season like the first half might make him the Heisman Trophy winner. He finished fourth in that voting last season.
TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams have both had a pair of 100-yard games and both have missed a game because of an unspecified injury. Williams had back-to-back games of 101 yards against Wisconsin and a career-best 189 yards and five touchdowns against Rutgers but did not play at Michigan State last week. Henderson ran for 121 yards against Wisconsin, couldn’t play against Rutgers, then got 118 yards against Michigan State.
Depth at running back became a concern when sophomore Evan Pryor suffered a season-ending knee injury in a preseason practice. Freshman Dallan Hayden rushed for 108 yards against Toledo and 70 at Michigan State.
Even though last year’s leading receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, has missed four games and played a total of only 38 snaps in the other two, OSU’s receivers are having a spectacular season.
The production the Buckeyes have gotten from Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., Julian Fleming and tight end Cade Stover has made up for the absence of Smith-Njigba and first-round NFL draft choices Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.
Tackles Paris Johnson and Dawand Jones, center Luke Wypler and guards Donovan Jackson and Matthew Jones could become one of the better OSU offensive lines in recent years. Ohio State leads the Big Ten in yards per carry in the running game and is tied for first in the fewest sacks allowed with four.
Defensive tackle Mike Hall has emerged as a star after playing four games and redshirting last season. Hall has 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for losses.
The defensive line is one of the deepest areas on the team, with ends like Jack Sawyer, J.T. Tuimoloau and Zach Harrison and interior linemen like Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Taron Vincent and others.
New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has done what he was hired to do — make OSU’s defense better and do it in a hurry. Nowhere is that improvement more obvious than at linebacker where Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers are playing at a high level at a position which was not a strength for the Buckeyes last year.
Ronnie Hickman, Lathan Ransom, Josh Proctor and Tanner McCalister have all played well at safety. Cameron Martinez has gotten some playing time and 5-star freshman Sonny Styles is making a good impression.
On the other hand, the cornerbacks have been singled out by many people as the one area of the team which needs to improve. Help might be on the way if Jordan Hancock, who missed the first six games with an injury, is able to get on the field.
Ohio State hasn’t done a lot of punting and has attempted only three field goals. It lost a fumble on a punt return, had some indecision on fielding a couple other kicks and has had three kickoffs go out of bounds.