He isn’t Jim Tressel, but no one in Columbus was overly surprised with the outcome of Luke Fickell’s head coaching debut this afternoon.
The Buckeyes dominated the Zips on both sides of the ball, scoring at least one touchdown in every quarter and not letting Akron into the red zone even once. In the end, Ohio State came away with a 42-0 win that was as lopsided as the score suggests.
Buckeyes senior quarterback Joe Bauserman didn’t do anything to suggest that he will lose the starting job in the near future. Bauserman looked poised in the pocket today, completing 12-of-16 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, making the most of his first start since he was a senior in high school.
Although true freshman Braxton Miller also looked solid while throwing for 130 yards and an additional touchdown, it was clear that Bauserman has a solid grip on the offense that he has been learning for the last four years. Bauserman’s passes had good velocity on them and were accurate; he even showed some fancy footwork in scrambling for a 15-yard touchdown that put the Buckeyes on the board for the first time in the game.
The Buckeyes took advantage of the mismatch that tight end Jake Stoneburner had on any Zips player that covered him. Before today, Stoneburner had never scored more than two touchdowns in an entire season. Now, he has three to start the 2011 campaign. With a relatively inexperienced receiving corps, it was assumed that Stoneburner, a big target with good hands, would get his share of receptions in this game. After this performance, he could end up becoming a focal point in the Buckeyes’ passing attack.
Ohio State’s defense was as strong as ever, holding Akron’s offense to just 90 total yards in the game and only 35 yards rushing on 27 attempts.
Despite all the questions heading into the season concerning the Buckeyes offense, the defense didn’t really seem to be much of an issue. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise; Coach Fickell had been the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State since 2005 before accepting the head coaching job in the spring. In addition, the Buckeyes were going up against an offense that ranked next to last in the nation in total yards last season, and Akron quarterback Clayton Moore was making the first start of his career.
One thing that was noticeably absent in Ohio Stadium today were the common elements of “Tressel Ball.” The Buckeyes attempted fourth-down conversions on two different occasions, converting on one of them, and strayed from the typical control-the-clock style of play that Tressel employed when up big in the fourth quarter. Braxton Miller’s passing touchdown came at the beginning of the fourth quarter and the Buckeyes had an additional touchdown with about six minutes remaining.
Although some would view this as running up the score in a game the Buckeyes were clearly in control of, Fickell and his staff cannot be blamed. Ohio State needs to see what they have on offense and giving Miller the opportunity to learn the offense is necessary; Ohio State doesn’t have any more Akron’s on the schedule.
In the end, Ohio State can’t take a whole lot away from this game. Akron was a 1-11 team last season and probably won’t be very good this season, either.
Bauserman had a lot of time to make his reads and, although he looked solid, he will face much steeper competition through the rest of the season.
If anything, Buckeye fans should be happy that the team looked dominating; there would be a lot of questions to address if they didn’t.