Sports Today: What to make of Ohio State’s opening win

Credit: Andy Lyons

Credit: Andy Lyons

Looking back now, Ohio State’s 49-21 win at Indiana looks pretty good overall.

The Buckeyes trailed at the half, but when all was said and done they had a 28-point win, a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard receiver and five sacks.

The defensive line was as good as advertised — maybe better.

GAME STORY: Buckeyes blow out Hoosiers in second half

The secondary gave up some things, but Indiana has a legitimately good passing game.

You aren’t going to be happy giving up 400 yards per game through the air, but the Buckeyes did make Hoosiers one-dimensional.

Some of the familiar foibles plagued the offense in the first half as questionable early-down play calling kept them behind the chains, where they are probably never going to be consistently strong (because most teams aren’t).

Without going back to study it closely yet, the “lack of separation” issue with the receivers seemed to again stem mostly from having to deal with seven- or eight-man zones less than being able to win one-on-one matchups.

HARTMAN: Five questions answered by Buckeyes

On the flip side, the Indiana offense took advantage of single coverage early in the game before finding the sledding tougher in the second when the Buckeyes mixed up their coverages.

J.T. Barrett may never be the guy he was in 2014 again — he’s not the same dynamic runner he was at times that year — but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That team was at its best when it wasn’t over-relying on the quarterback, whoever it was. When Barrett became a one-man show in November, the rest of the team seemed to slack off (that’s not his fault, of course). The rest of the unit picked its game back up after Barrett went down and was replaced by Cardale Jones for the postseason.

Seeing Barrett find guys within zones and on the move was a welcome development. He threw the ball pretty well overall.

And then there is J.K. Dobbins — we will need to see more of him to find out just how dynamic he is, but he seems to have more open-field moves than the very solid Mike Weber.

Dobbins may be a better complement to Barrett than Weber because the offensive formula for Ohio State since Urban Meyer arrived relies on either the quarterback or the running back being able to turn five yards into 50, something that is not a strength of Barrett (since he hurt his leg as a freshman) or Weber, though both of them are excellent in short yardage and sure to get you those five yards that are there every time.

If both of Dobbins and Weber deserve to play — let's assume that is the case — will this finally inspire Ohio State to dream up some scenarios with two backs sharing the field to keep defenses guessing about who will get the ball?

I doubt it, but let me dream for now…

The Cincinnati Bengals played a game last night, although the fourth preseason game of the year has only been a rumor to me since college football started putting real games on the same Thursday night a few years back.

Fortunately, we have Jay Morrison's 5 things to know from a 7-6 loss in Indianapolis to help us connect the dots from game three to cut day.

Sounds like this would have been a particularly bad game to watch, but maybe it could have been avoided if the league took my advice.

The kicking battle took center stage, but neither veteran Randy Bullock or rookie Jake Elliott took advantage. Bullock has better numbers, but will the team stick with the kid since they used a draft pick on him?

›› 5 changes the NFL needs to better itself, the players and the game

Speaking of numbers, the active season roster might have gained a spot (in essence) through Jeff Driskel’s hand injury. If he goes on Injured Reserve, the team could keep him for another season without having to carry three quarterbacks all year. A blessing in disguise long term?

Rookie receiver John Ross was also injured, though it is unclear if that will be a lasting issue. His injury history was one of the knocks on Ross coming out of Washington.

On the bright side: Those young defensive front seven guys (Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis and Jordan Evans) just kept rocking.

If Carl, Jordan and Jordan could start a reality show, would you watch?

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And then there are the Cincinnati Reds.

They salvaged a split of a four-game series with the Mets by winning 7-2 yesterday afternoon.

Scooter Gennett homered and doubled for the Reds, who got another six solid innings from Robert Stephenson.

He struck out seven and allowed two runs and five hits to improve to 3-4 on the season.

Michael Lorenzen pitched two shut-out innings, and Raisel Iglesias closed it out for what was pretty much a textbook win when it comes to this rebuild.

READ MORE: Young starters suddenly finding their way for Reds

Stephenson told reporters after the game he's been more confident during a five-stretch start in which he's been pretty good.

With his mind right, he’s been able to rely on his slider to get out of trouble, too.

He picked up the slider in Spring Training, but used it sparingly early on.

"I really worked on it a lot more in Triple-A," he said. "It was a good time to throw it more often, especially as a starter."

With rosters expanding today, it could be the wild, wild west the rest of the way as all those youngsters we have seen a glimpse or two of figure to be back sooner or later.

Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle are going to hit innings limits eventually, so there should be a lot of guys getting at least another chance or two to show what they can do in The Show.

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