COLUMBUS — Ohio State running back Demario McCall only had one touch in the game at Northwestern, a second-quarter rush for seven yards.
But it wasn’t what McCall did that caught eyes. No, it was the fact that McCall was in the game at all.
His first snap on the field came on the first drive of the game, when he lined up at running back beside quarterback Justin Fields. When he was in the game, McCall typically lined up at running back and motioned outside to play receiver.
McCall didn’t catch a pass, and he wasn’t even targeted at all. But his presence on the field was enough to help him improve his stock. The junior back hasn’t shown much of an ability to get the job done on the field for the Buckeyes, whether that has been due to injury or lack of reps. He returned one punt, too, but he lost a yard on the return.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day told the media prior to Friday night’s game at Ryan Field that McCall would have played against Michigan State, but an injury that occurred in pregame kept the speedy back off the field for that big win.
Against Northwestern, he was back out there. Nothing he did on the field was spectacular. That McCall was on the field with the first-team offense in a key first quarter was the story. His presence alone helped his stock rise after the latest Buckeyes beatdown.
OT Nicholas Petit-Frere
Nicholas Petit-Frere split time early at left tackle — a position he hasn’t worked on because his focus is at right tackle — with Thayer Munford throughout the first half of the 52-3 win. Munford was banged up and seemed uncomfortable, so Petit-Frere received most of the reps with Josh Alabi sidelined. For the most part, Petit-Frere delivered. His blocking and protection for Fields got off to a slow start, but as the game went on, Petit-Frere grew more comfortable along the offensive line and helped the Buckeyes rush for 279 yards on the road in primetime. Not bad for a former five-star recruit who hadn’t had much of a chance to play before the game.
DB Amir Riep
Amir Riep has never been the most glorified defensive back for the Buckeyes. Now in his third year in the Ohio State program, he is starting to show that he belongs. Riep was a part of the first-team defense at times in the first half at the Bullet spot, which gives a glimpse of where he stands on the depth chart: Behind Pete Werner and Shaun Wade, but possibly in front of Brendon White. Riep didn’t make many plays when he was in the game, but his spot on the depth chart seems to be rising. Oh, and he picked off the Northwestern quarterback on the last defensive play of the game late in the fourth quarter to seal the dominant Ohio State performance.
DT Tommy Togiai
Tommy Togiai was able to flash the athleticism that goes with his massive size Friday night. On one play, Togiai ran from the middle of the field to the boundary for a tackle of a Northwestern skill player, showing how versatile and athletic Togiai truly is. Togiai is another guy who was in the game when the outcome was still in question — the first 20 game minutes — showing where he stands on the depth chart. His four total tackles don’t hurt his cause either, but the sophomore seems to be coming along nicely in his second year under Larry Johnson.
DE Tyler Friday
On the stat sheet, Tyler Friday only had two assisted tackles, which won’t look impressive. The young defensive end looked much better than that would indicate against the Wildcats. During his first-half playing time, he was moving offensive linemen seemingly wherever he wanted. His physical and aggressive style at defensive end could help the Buckeyes against Wisconsin and beyond if his spot on the depth chart remains where it was when Ohio State played Northwestern. That game indicated he would be on the field early again in a similar situation. Friday has been improving all year, and he could be a contributor for the defense moving forward this season.