Two games into the 2018 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes are 2-0, scoring 129 points, allowing 34, for an average score of 64-17. The fact that Ohio State easily handled their first two opponents was not altogether surprising. The fact that Ohio State has been so impressive while dealing with the game day absence of head coach Urban Meyer should be encouraging.
Meyer's suspension from the sidelines will conclude after the game versus TCU, as he will be back coaching the team against Tulane on Sept. 22 in Ohio Stadium. Meyer's suspension has kept him away for the wins against Oregon State and Rutgers, but he has been coaching the team Sunday-Friday since Sept. 2.
Even with such a small sample size, a few patterns have begun to emerge about the 2018 Buckeyes
1. The coaching staff has kept the machine running smoothly
It would be fair to say that a few Ohio State fans might have had flashbacks to the 2011 season, when Jim Tressel was fired and then-defensive coordinator/current Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell was promoted to head coach for the season. Even though Ryan Day has never been a head coach before, Day and the coaching staff have the Buckeyes playing well, which is a testament to the overall strength of the program that Meyer has built during his time in Columbus.
2. The influence of Kevin Wilson & Ryan Day on the offense is evident
Meyer's love of former quarterback J.T. Barrett is well known, as he departed Columbus with virtually every school passing record. With new starter Dwayne Haskins, co-offensive coordinators Wilson and Day are building an offense that is much more similar to what Wilson (Miami of Ohio, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Indiana) and Day (Boston College, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers) have done in their previous coaching stops. A case in point — Barrett carried the ball consistently for the Buckeyes. Through two games, Haskins has been credited with four carries total.
3. The defensive line has been dominant, as expected
The superior play of junior defensive end Nick Bosa should not come as a surprise, as he was a preseason All-American pick. For people outside of the Ohio State fan base, the play of the rest of the defensive line has been tremendous. Sophomore defensive end Chase Young, redshirt junior Dre'Mont Jones, and redshirt junior Robert Landers are showing the rest of the country that they are also worthy of media attention and praise, as Pro Football Focus has labeled the Buckeyes' defensive line the best in the country.
4. Running game has tremendous depth
A year ago, Mike Weber was battling a hamstring injury, which opened the door for J.K. Dobbins to emerge as Ohio State's featured tailback. So far in 2018, neither Weber nor Dobbins have emerged as the primary tailback, with both players getting opportunities. Through two games, Weber has 28 carries for 217 yards (7.8 ypc) and three rushing touchdowns, while Dobbins has 27 carries for 147 yards (5.4 ypc) and a score. Not to be forgotten are true freshmen Master Teague and Brian Snead. Each has gotten some playing time as the Buckeyes' first two games have been lopsided affairs, with Teague going for 81 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries while Snead has 37 yards and a score with the same number of attempts.
5. Drue Chrisman can do more than flip bottles; he can flip the field
Chrisman, the Buckeyes' redshirt sophomore punter, has an uncanny knack for bottle flipping, as demonstrated below. While Chrisman's bottle flipping would gain him the admiration of my two teenage sons, he has been outstanding in his limited opportunities to get on the field. Chrisman has only punted five times this season, but he has averaged 48 yards per kick, with three of them falling inside the 20-yard line. Chrisman's ability to pin opponents deep inside their own territory combined with Ohio State's stout defense has been a highly effective combination thus far.