Toledo next for Ohio State team still looking to improve

COLUMBUS -- Ryan Day liked what he saw from his Ohio State football team on Saturday.

The Buckeyes piled up 538 total yards, including 370 through the air and 168 on the ground, while beating Arkansas State 45-12.

They averaged 10.0 yards per play (tied for third-best in school history for a single game) while allowing just 3.6.

Arkansas State had 276 yards, and the Red Wolves needed 76 plays and more than 37 minutes of possession to get those.

Ohio State sophomores C.J. Stroud threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns while Miyan Williams averaged 5.8 yards per carry and TreVeyon Henderson went for 8.7.

But the coach of the 2-0 Buckeyes said he wants more.

“I’d like to see the film before we start grading because coming out of the game sometimes you think you see things and then you kind of step away and you see it through a different lens,” Day said. “But there are certainly things in this game that I would like to see done better.”

Ohio State had a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and the defense had three offside penalties. The Buckeye defense also kept an ASU drive alive with a third-down pass interference, something that would have happened twice if not for a circus catch by the Red Wolves.

On offense, Day took issue with four three-and-out drives, including two in the third quarter that prevented the offense from getting even more done.

“When we’re playing with toughness, we’re playing on an edge, we’re taking care of the football, those are all real positive things, but the negative things get us off schedule,” Day said. “We just don’t quite execute at a high level and then it throws us off.”

Thanks in part to Arkansas State’s playing primarily man coverage on Ohio State’s young receivers, the passing game showed the explosiveness it lacked in the season-opening win over Notre Dame.

By reducing the number of players Ohio State ran, the big plays from the passing game also limited the work for the running game, which saw Henderson and Williams combine for 18 carries while third-stringer Dallan Hayden had four and receiver Emeka Egbuka got one.

“We want to be able to control the game, so that’s the balance that we need,” Day said. “Now, depending on what a team is doing, sometimes they force your hand a little bit. And that’s where if you want to be a good offense, you have to be able to do that.

“Part of only having 54 plays is because we had those three-and-outs, so we’re just going to really take a lot of pride in our execution, keep growing on it and keep building on it and figuring out as we go through this year where we’re at, but I think you can see the potential, sure.”

Next up is a visit from Toledo, a team that is 2-0 and was projected to be better than a handful of Big Ten teams (not to mention much better than ASU).

Phil Steele ranked the Rockets 66th in the nation in his preseason power poll, and they are 2-0 with lopsided wins over Long Island University (an FCS team) and Massachusetts.

Defense is Toledo’s calling card, so the Saturday night showdown could be an interesting clash of styles.

“What you don’t want to do is take winning for granted and take a lot of really hard work and good performances for granted either,” Day said. “But I know there’s gonna be a lot of things that we need to look at tomorrow, and then we got to keep building on it, keep growing on it and make improvements.”


Toledo at Ohio State, 7 p.m., Fox, 1410

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