What did we learn this week:
These Buckeyes are persistent if nothing else.
The first game of the year is always one in which everyone gets a reminder that games are a lot longer than the highlights and cut-ups we watch during the offseason to get us through. Classic games seem to go quicker than live broadcasts because we already know how they're going to end.
Ohio State trailed Navy in the first quarter and again in the second quarter and again in the third, but the Buckeyes didn't really look like they were in trouble until their failed fourth down attempt in the third. Then Navy, which had already run for 300 yards and didn't seem interested in slowing down, really had a chance to take control of the game. But instead Ohio State scored 14 unanswered points and won 34-17.
Quarterback Keenan Reynolds fell forward just enough to convert a third-and-5 to keep that drive going, but the Buckeyes struck back with tackles for loss (including a Curtis Grant sack) on three of the next four plays to put the Midshipmen in a place they never want to be: third and long. They couldn't convert, and two plays later Tom Herman dialed up a deep ball to Devin Smith and suddenly the Buckeyes were back on top 20-14.
It's easy to jump ahead and think we know how things are going to end, better to prepare that way sometimes, but there is no rushing the final and we're all better for it, really.
Admittedly we didn't learn a lot in the grand scheme of things other than this Ohio State team is not mentally weak. They had chances to fold the tent and go home, but they didn't. This shouldn't be a surprise, but it is still something that happens to lesser teams, and every little step counts in a 12-week season.
That there are a bunch of weapons on this team was also confirmed even if roles figure to continue to evolve. Same with the fact J.T. Barrett has the ability and the smarts to run Urban Meyer's offense, but as a young player he is going to make some young mistakes. The defense is more of a question mark as it wasn't challenged through the air and what it struggled to stop won't be seen again. Overall, it was an opener that had everything -- a double-digit win with lots of big plays but plenty to fix.
On to the next one.
What we can exist to learn this week:
Urban Meyer said it all at his weekly press conference: How good is the Ohio State secondary and how good is the offensive line?
While most of the attention often goes to the quarterback, he can't work without the front performing... and sometimes a fair bit of his success is from the secondary flailing.
We still haven't seen what the new scheme really even looks like, let alone how it plays, since Reynolds hardly even dropped back to pass.
Michigan set a good example of how an aggressive scheme can make a team look more vibrant while Ohio State was still stuck in mostly read-and-react mode. Of course Ohio State was facing a much better team, but Michigan at least got more practical experience. Perhaps in the long run getting mentally tested will prove to be more beneficial, but there are a lot more games to play before we find out.
VT wasn't facing a bowl-quality FBS team, either, but the Hokies looked good in their season debut as they broke in some new faces at various positions.
They shouldn't be intimidated by the atmosphere, and they'll likely come in hoping to get after Barrett. He lost his head once against Navy and it cost his team at least three points, but he is probably a quick learner. The Ohio State line had some problems both physical and mental against Navy, but it's also a group with three guys who gave never started before. It's obviously too early to conclude those are not all the right men for the job, though it would probably be nice to know for certain they are before going into such a big game.
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