There is little rest for the weary, as Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and his assistant coaches are back to game-week preparations for the upcoming visit by the Iowa Hawkeyes. Day and the assistant coaches used the bye week to recruit talented prospects around the nation, while also focusing on areas of the team that can still be improved upon before play resumes.
Even at 6-0, Ohio State cannot become complacent. Yes, the team has improved defensively, and the Ohio State offense is averaging nearly 49 points per game, but Ohio State's coaches, players, and fans know that "The Team Up North" is looking especially formidable, and some challenging road games are on the docket in the second half of the season.
Below are some midseason thoughts and musings on where Ohio State stands at the midpoint, with a review of the remaining games on the Buckeyes' 2022 schedule:
Offensive MVP: C.J. Stroud, QB
The second-year starter has resumed his assault on the Ohio State record book, having thrown 24 touchdowns to just three interceptions in the first six games of the season. Stroud has also done this without his best wide receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who has missed almost all of the first half of the season due to a hamstring injury. Stroud's continued maturity and development should have the Buckeyes well-positioned to reclaim the Big Ten title as the stretch run begins in November.
Defensive MVP: Tommy Eichenberg, LB
The key to the Ohio State defensive resurgence under new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, Eichenberg has been dominant for the Buckeyes since the season began. Eichenberg is leading the team with 50 tackles (28 solo, 22 assists) and will be essential for the defense as the weather begins to turn colder and Big Ten opponents become even more reliant upon their respective running games.
Best Moment Of First Half: Marvin Harrison Jr.'s 3 TD receptions at Michigan State
It was challenging to come up with just one of Harrison's big plays, as the sophomore wide receiver has become one of the better players at his position in the country. With a long wingspan, Harrison has demonstrated a knack for making difficult catches look ordinary, as he did on the road three times at Michigan State on Oct. 8:
Best Newcomer: Dallan Hayden, RB
It's a challenge to come up with the best newcomer, as cornerback Jyaire Brown, safety Sonny Styles, and defensive lineman Caden Curry have all made positive contributions in the first half. Hayden gets the nod since Ohio State's starters at running back (TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams) have both had minor injury issues that have kept them out of games, and Hayden has demonstrated to the coaches that he can assist with the workload if called upon in crunch time.
Three Things To Watch In The Second Half
1. Improved play from the secondary
Injuries have been a factor here, but poor cornerback play by Denzel Burke and Cameron Brown has been alarming. Ohio State needs to clean up its coverage technique, as better passing teams, such as Maryland, will be able to exploit it.
2. Injury concerns
Every team has them, and Ohio State has dealt with injuries at running back (the aforementioned Henderson/Williams injuries), at wide receiver (Smith-Njigba), and in the secondary. Ohio State has been fortunate that injuries have not yet played a significant factor so far this season.
3. Continued development of the backup quarterbacks
Players such as Hayden or Brown have played, but there is growing unrest about how backup quarterbacks Kyle McCord and Devin Brown have not been inserted into games and allowed to run the offense. Day has respectfully stated that he does not want to run up the score on Big Ten opponents, but all it would take is an injury to Stroud, and Ohio State's national championship hopes could be dramatically altered. McCord and Brown need to be passing the ball more when given game time.
Ranking the Toughest Remaining Games on Ohio State's Schedule
1. Michigan, Nov. 26
2. at Penn State, Oct. 29
3. at Maryland, Nov. 19
4. Iowa, Oct. 22
5. Indiana, Nov. 12
6. at Northwestern, Nov. 5