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What We Learned from Ohio State’s season-opening blowout

Dwayne Haskins passing-Dwayne Haskins-Ohio State quarterback-Ohio State Buckeyes
Dwayne Haskins posted a record-setting starting debut for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

What We Learned from Ohio State’s season-opening blowout

COLUMBUS — The first one is out of the way for Ohio State.

The season-opener is in the rearview mirror, Dwayne Haskins has a start under his belt and the Buckeyes are one game closer to Urban Meyer returning to the sideline.

A matchup with Oregon State never figured to be much more than a tuneup for No. 5 Ohio State, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be even with a couple hiccups and a weather delay mixed in during the 77-31 win on Saturday at the Horseshoe. But there is always information to be gleaned, especially when so much of what the Buckeyes were doing during training camp was private.

So, what did Lettermen Row learn from the first victory of Ryan Day’s career? Start with these lessons.

Dwayne Haskins can change the game for Ohio State

There has never really been any doubt that the arm strength Haskins brings to the quarterback position could expand the passing attack for Ohio State. If there was any uncertainty, it centered around how much the redshirt sophomore might be asked to run as part of the power-spread attack — or if Tate Martell would be called on to supplement the attack. But Haskins used his feet just twice, once on an impressive scramble that was something of a callback to a critical rush last season at Michigan. And that has to go down as a positive sign for the Buckeyes, particularly since there were a couple of times when he could have taken open space on the ground but chose to throw instead for a bigger gain. Haskins looks more than capable of helping Ohio State evolve offensively and become even more dangerous.

Dre'Mont Jones-Ohio State Buckeyes-Ohio State football-Dre'Mont Jones sack

Dre’Mont Jones had a pair of sacks for Ohio State in the opener. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The pass rush for Ohio State is ridiculous

Nick Bosa looking like a No. 1 overall draft pick is no surprise. Dre’Mont Jones destroying would-be blockers isn’t exactly a shock, although his two sacks strongly suggest his game has been kicked up a notch. And just about everybody who has seen Chase Young before has been expecting him to explode as a sophomore. But still, it’s one thing to project Ohio State as perhaps the most terrifying defensive line in the country and quite another to see them actually back it up on the field. The Buckeyes are almost unblockable in obvious passing situations, especially when they throw in some freakishly athletic linebackers to support the cause. And after starting the season with five sacks, opposing quarterbacks on the Ohio State schedule might want to start looking for extra pads.

Ohio State has legitimate two-headed monster in backfield

There are plenty of potential benefits for the Buckeyes in cutting down on carries by the quarterback, but J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber figure to have the most to gain. The terrific tailback tandem combined to get 35 attempts against the Beavers, and splitting that heavy workload should allow both to stay fresh and play their best. Weber maximized his chances better against Oregon State, exploding for 186 yards and four total touchdowns while looking like the kind of force he was expected to be last season before a hamstring injury slowed him down. Dobbins was no slouch with 74 yards of his own, and the scoring success could quite easily be flipped his way next week considering how talented he is coming off his breakout freshman year. When those two are on the field together, good luck to defensive coordinators trying to figure out who to key on for Ohio State.

The Silver Bullets still need some work

Nothing is going to be a finished product in Week One, and there’s plenty of time for Ohio State to shore up a few issues defensively — especially when the offense is going to provide some margin for error. But it has to be somewhat unsettling for the Buckeyes to see problems with missed tackles, pursuit angles and what appeared to be blown assignments that contributed to a pair of touchdowns of nearly 80 yards each and 31 points allowed. In particular, a revamped linebacker unit seemed to be dealing with the same issues that plagued it last year in losses to Oklahoma and Iowa. Position coach Billy Davis continues to be under the microscope, and Urban Meyer will no doubt have questions for him when he returns to work on Monday.

Ryan Day is making himself a lot of money

Every moment that Ryan Day wins is only enhancing his standing as potentially the hottest future head coach on the market this offseason. And if Ohio State does view him as a possible successor to Meyer like it should, it’s going to be fascinating to see what Day elects to do — and how much the program is willing to pay to keep him around until it’s time to take the reins for good. Maybe that seems like an overreaction to one game as the acting head coach. But the way Day handled the difficult situation throughout training camp, the manner he’s carried himself in public and the huge jump it looks like the offense is taking all point to a star that is only going to get brighter.

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Damon Henry

Get the reps guys. Game 3 is when the season begins.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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