Arkansas State Week Mic Check: Competitive Endurance Takes Center Stage
Ohio State kicked off its 2022 season with a gutsy 21-10 victory over a 5th-ranked Notre Dame team, focused on shortening the contest and incorporating physicality into a game plan aimed at to run the ball and stop the run.
Irish head coach Marcus Freeman knew he didn’t quite have the quarterback or the horses to beat the Buckeyes in a track meet. During the first half, his team executed strategy solidly, holding Ohio State to 55 rushing yards (sack adjusted) as the Buckeyes went just 28 plays. Meanwhile, the Irish rushed for 60 yards (sack adjusted) and controlled the clock on their way to a 10-7 lead at intermission.
As Ohio State head coach Ryan Day reflected on Saturday’s win during his media briefing yesterday, it was clear he was pleased with how his offense turned things around in the second half while his defense was even better than it was in the first 30 minutes.
I thought our competitive stamina showed on Saturday night, definitely in the second half and fourth quarter… We have to bring it up 12 times in the regular season, no matter who we’re up against.–Ryan Day
In the second half of Saturday night’s game, when Day knew he was in a fight, Ohio State relied on the rushing play at 122 yards on 5.8 per carry (sack/adjusted knee) . The numbers might not jump off the page, but in this type of game it was huge for the Buckeyes to throw 69% of their net yardage on the ground (again, no sacks/knees) in the second half. -decisive time.
Meanwhile, the defense held Notre Dame to 35 sack-adjusted rushing yards over the past two quarters on a 3.5-yard-per-try walk, which was fair on his first-half performance as the Irish ran it 17 times for 60 yards (again, sack adjusted).
In Ohio State’s big second half, the group scored on back-to-back possessions from the end of the third quarter to the final five minutes of the fourth quarter, turning a 10-7 deficit into an insurmountable 21-10 lead. .
The final touchdown, a 14-play, 95-yard walk to break Notre Dame’s back, saw the run game turn nasty. After TreVeyon Henderson carried him three times for 15 yards, Miyan Williams took over, grinding for 49 yards on seven carries, with rushes of 11, 15 and 12 yards before his 2-yard dive capped the score.
Averaging 6.4 yards per pop while racking up 64 rushing yards in a 95-yard drive, especially late when everyone knew the run was coming, that’s exactly what Day means when he preaches l competitive endurance.
Last year, that wasn’t always the case when the going got tough. In a home loss to Oregon, Buckeye’s defense gave up 167 rushing yards on 8.4 second-half tries, forcing the offense to play from behind all day.
In a road loss at the hands of Michigan, the lack of competitive stamina was even more pronounced. On defense, the Buckeyes were bullied to the tune of 190 yards in 18 seconds halftime, good for 10.6 per try even as the entire universe knew the Wolverines were lining up to run. Offense was just as bad with the offensive line totally overwhelming my Michigan front. Tenacity and leadership were non-existent.
Ultimately, those two losses and other win struggles along the way paved the way for Day to focus on leadership and toughness this offseason — meshing to achieve competitive stamina — and his team has passed its first test last Saturday.
Now the emphasis is on doing the same thing every week, regardless of the opponent. Yes, Ohio State will roll Arkansas State on Saturday, but you can bet Day will be on the lookout for how the eruption unfolds. He wants to see the tenacity and the urgency of the two lines and he wants to see the leaders intervene at the slightest sign of adversity.
In all honesty, part of me wonders if Day himself didn’t need that style of winning as badly as the players. He certainly showed more patience on play calls on Saturday night and there were times when last year’s defense could have benefited from the offense producing longer drives.
Of course, the other part of me thinks he probably had that patience from the start, but he just didn’t have enough confidence in his defense last year to not just focus on the fact. to score as many points as possible.