Ohio State Buckeyes: 5 things to know from the rout of Akron

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Ryan Day assesses Kyle McCord for Ohio State football

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State finished the nonconference schedule with a 59-7 shellacking of Akron on Saturday night.

The 10th-ranked Buckeyes (3-1) took care of business despite having several new faces in the lineup, including at quarterback.

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. True freshman Kyle McCord started at quarterback for C.J. Stroud and turned in an historic performance.

With 319 yards passing, McCord posted the first 300-yard game by an Ohio State true freshman. The Pennsylvania prep product narrowly missed J.T. Barrett’s freshman record for passing yards in a game, 330 against Cincinnati in 2014 when Barrett was a redshirt.

With regular starter Stroud resting a sore shoulder, McCord completed 11 of 15 passes for 229 yards in the first half and 13 of 19 for the game. He finished hot after missing his first two official passes and throwing a screen so far behind his intended receiver it went backwards for a lateral in the score sheet.

The coaches got him started with a jet sweep shovel pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba and then another to Chris Olave that went for a touchdown. Then he was off and running, hitting all but one of his last 11 passes of the first half.

McCord threw his first career interception on the first drive of the third quarter when he dodged a pass rusher then tried to hit Cade Stover with a side-arm throw. He missed and found Akron’s Charles Amankwaa instead.

But McCord went over the 300-yard passing mark on the next series when he connected with classmate Emeka Egbuka for an 85-yard catch-and-run that tied the third longest pass play in Ohio State history. Troy Smith and Antonio Pittman also had an 85-yarder in 2005. The longest is Kenny Guiton to Devin Smith for 90 yards in 2013 followed by Art Schlichter to Cal Murray for 86 in 1979.

Garrett Wilson put in a game’s worth of work in the first half, catching four passes for 124 yards.

Smith-Njigba also had a big first half, catching five passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Miller III made his season debut and completed five of eight passes for 66 yards in the second half.

2. The defense had a rough start, giving up a nine-play, 55-yard touchdown drive the second time it took the field, but that unit also got stronger as the game went on.

The front four was able to pressure Akron quarterback DJ Irons almost at will and kept him on the run. Haskell Garrett had a pair of sacks in the first half and finished with three on the night while Antwuan Jackson and Jerron Cage also got to him in the first half.

Tyleik Williams had a pair of sacks and Jack Sawyer and Ty Hamilton also had one apiece.

The pressure helped create a pair of interceptions, although a switch in coverages also helped on one as linebacker Cody Simon was able to make a break on the ball from his spot in a Cover 2 zone rather than chasing a back in man coverage.

Akron finished with 229 total yards, including some in garbage time after the second-team defense took the field for the Buckeyes.

3. Ohio State played without several regulars.

While Zach Harrison returned at defensive end after missing last week’s game, the Buckeyes did not have defensive linemen Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Tyreke Smith or Taron Vincent. True freshman J.T. Tuimoloau moved into the starting lineup at end while Jackson started at nose tackle. Cornerback Cam Brown also missed the game and was replaced in the starting lineup by Sevyn Banks.

On the other side of the ball, Matt Jones started at left guard for the injured Thayer Munford while Luke Wypler started a fourth game at center with projected starter Harry Miller still unavailable.

4. The running backs shared the wealth.

A week after setting a school freshman record for rushing yards in a game, TreVeyon Henderson drew his second start and ran for 93 yards on eight carries. He scored a pair of touchdowns, as did Master Teague.

Teague carried eight times for 71 yards while Miyan Williams had 47 yards on nine carries a week after not seeing any action.

Evan Pryor ran for 35 yards and his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter.

5. There seemed to be some drama in the first half when reserve linebacker K’Vaughn Pope appeared to be upset about being taken out of the game.

He was seen removing his gear and tossing his gloves into the crowd before leaving the field.

At halftime, Pope — or someone using his Twitter account — tweeted, “good lucc (sic) to my teammates” and then followed up with a profane message for Ohio State.

The second tweet was later deleted, though not before it was picked up by numerous accounts that follow college football.

Pope is a senior who appeared to be in line for more playing time this season but was passed on the depth chart by multiple younger players. A classmate in a similar situation — fellow linebacker Dallas Gant — entered the transfer portal earlier this week.

Day declined to comment on the situation after the game until he had gathered more information.

He also did not commit to what he will do at quarterback next week when the Buckeyes travel to Rutgers.

BONUS item: Ohio State will go more than 100 years without losing to another team from Ohio.

The Buckeyes’ last loss to another in-state school was to Oberlin, a 7-6 final Oct. 8, 1921.

Ohio State is 190-51-15 all-time against colleges from Ohio, including a 30-0 mark since 1992 when they resumed playing them regularly.