Cus Words: Building for Now and Later

Ohio State was able to accomplish more than you might think in a 66-0 win over Kent State. Sure, a win is essential, but Urban Meyer and his staff also managed to work a big portion of the freshman class into the lineup.

What we learned this week: The Buckeyes can bounce back quickly, and they do really have some roster depth.

Yes, it was only Kent State, but there was still business to be taken care of and Ohio State did that and then some. This was not Akron 2007 (20-2), Ohio 2008 (25-14) or Toledo 2011 (27-22), all games Ohio State could have used to get experience for backups but failed to do so.

I wrote last week that they needed to use the coming two weeks as preparation for Cincinnati, with Kent State has a dress rehearsal in the middle of all that, and they did just that. We got to see them work out some of their offensive issues while also getting experience for a whole bunch of people on both sides of the ball.

Given how coaches look at playing inexperienced players, despite what Urban Meyer has to say about redshirting, that is a big deal. The head coach of the Buckeyes did not hide the fact after the game that Ohio State could have used this game earlier in the season. They've definitely played this season out of sequence so far, especially for a team that's very young. Not that there's anything that can be done about that, it's just the way it is.

This win was exactly what the Buckeyes needed. It wasn't perfect as J.T. Barrett turned the ball over a couple of times, but he also played the role of distributor exactly the way it was drawn up.

Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall showed they can be the type of talents that have been missing in the passing game -- a big guy who can snatch the ball and run after the catch and another who can make people miss and turn a short pass into something special.

And whether it was Jalyn Holmes getting in the backfield, Erick Smith with an interception, Dante Booker in hot pursuit or Raekwon McMillan leading the team in tackles, a bunch of young guys flashed what they can do. Will we see more of them in the future? Only time will tell, although Noah Spence's off-field trouble certainly makes me think they need someone else to be a playmaker in the front seven on defense. Darron Lee is one guy, but he is often going to be too far away from the action simply because of alignment to make plays in the backfield. He'll clean up elsewhere. Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa have looked unblockable at times, but they need help. Ohio State really needs someone who can bend the corner and get to the quarterback without a blitz.

This team still needs playmakers on both sides of the ball to keep getting better. The way they battered opponents on offense last season is something Ohio State fans had longed to see for years -- probably almost 20 -- but it's uncommon for a reason. Getting that good up front is just hard to do. This line has some capable guys, but the bottom line is the four who graduated were all four-or five-star recruits in their fourth or fifth years, and they stayed healthy for two full seasons. Patchwork can work if you're strong in other areas -- see almost the entire Tressel era -- so this drop off is not a crisis. And even though this offensive line might not be physically as good as last year, the problems against Virginia Tech were not very physical. They were more communication and game situation. Those are fixable. And we saw against Kent State that they do appear to have some options if anyone up front does not work out.

What we can expect to learn this week:

Well, with practices closed and limited media opportunities, we probably won't learn very much ourselves, but the coaching staff has another good opportunity to continue learning about its personnel. Next week when the Buckeyes play host to a very interesting looking Cincinnati team, we may see a few changes in the lineup. Or we may not. Having actual game tape for some of these freshmen probably makes it more likely the staff will consider making them bigger parts of future plans.

But in the meantime we can take this off week as observers of college football to, well, you know look around college football.

I know I'll be curious to see how some of the other Big Ten teams look, and it never hurts to check out what some of the actual elite teams in college football look like either, if the Big Ten stuff gets old.

There are plenty of interesting games on the schedule starting with Michigan State and Wisconsin both hosting MAC opponents at noon before Michigan receives a visit from Utah at 3:30 (ABC/ESPN2). Indiana has a long-shot chance to win back some respect for the Big Ten when it travels to Missouri (4 p.m., SEC Network), and Nebraska hosts Miami (Fla.) at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

The aforementioned Bearcats are on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. when they host their still-struggling Southwest Ohio rivals Miami in the Battle for the Victory Bell.

The marquee national game is Clemson at Florida State (8 p.m., ABC), and there are some other games with the potential to be interesting throughout the day as conference play begins in many places.

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