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Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State's 48-3 Win Over Tulsa
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — What can we learn from a game that was off-kilter from the start and somehow got righted thanks to a 50-minute weather delay? Good question.

The Buckeyes started slowly on offense, but their defense was there every step of the way to make sure things kept going in the proper direction. After the game, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said that's what teams are supposed to do. The defense helps the offense, the offense helps the defense. That's how it has always been and that is how it will always be.

In the end, what started out as a sloppy and questionable effort, turned into a dominating win by six-and-a-half touchdowns for Ohio State. Slow and steady will generally win the race, but it was late in the second quarter when slow and steady became fast and defensive for the Buckeyes, and it was all over from there.

So what did we learn from Ohio State's 48-3 win over Tulsa? Let's take a look.

1. The kickoff coverage needs to be fixed.
Bowling Green broke containment a few times in the season opener and Tulsa did it to an even greater degree on Saturday. The biggest difference, however, is that Tulsa was able to do it a time or two without even using the wide side of the field. Bishop Louie averaged under 20 yards per return in his five attempts, but he had a 52-yarder which is the biggest concern. This is two weeks in a row when the coverage unit hasn't been flawless, which is a change from recent times when they generally were.

2. Dontre Wilson is a legit playmaker for the Buckeyes.
Wilson only had six touches from scrimmage in this game, but he finished with three carries for 30 yards and three catches for 38 yards, and he scored his third touchdown of the year as well. He returned three punts for 45 yards and a kickoff for 25 yards. His 138 all-purpose yards were just two fewer than Curtis Samuel. Whenever anybody wants to talk to Urban Meyer about Samuel, he is quick to mention how well Wilson is playing also, and he should. He is proving to be an effective runner, and teams are still having a difficult time of locating him in the passing game. Right now he appears to be the Dontre Wilson that everyone was expecting as a sophomore, and there are no plans to limit his role in any way. In fact, it will only increase moving forward if Meyer has his way.

3. Malik Hooker is everything you thought he might be.
When you take everything that teammates and coaches have said about Malik Hooker prior to his first two games, and then combine that with what he has done in those first two games (and a spring game), the math spits out an answer that this is just what he does. Were you surprised to see him step in front of that pass and take it in for six? Nobody was. Even when a catch is made by his receiver, he is right there to make the tackle. Now, he did miss a tackle in this game, but I think it's good for players to let you know that they are human, because up until then we weren't really sure with him.

4. J.T. Barrett isn't ready to leave for the NFL.
J.T. Barrett will stare down his first read at times, but that's usually because it will come open. He wasn't very accurate in this game, and yes it was windy, but we're talking about short passes here. The consistency that you would like to see out of him wasn't there today. Barrett isn't thinking about leaving for the NFL right now, but it would be impossible for fans and media to not think about it the way things are going at Ohio State. We can probably put those thoughts to rest for a while. At least a week, anyway.

5. Robert Landers needs to play more.
Redshirt freshman nose tackle Robert Landers was one of the players singled out as having to step up in Tracy Sprinkle's absence, and he did that on Saturday. He finished with four tackles and two tackles for loss. He is short and quick, which makes him a bad matchup for most interior linemen. He can penetrate and he can get leverage. He splits blockers before they can even get set. It remains to be seen how he can hold up against somebody like Wisconsin or Penn State, but based on what we saw against Tulsa, a few more snaps for him wouldn't be a bad idea.

6. Jerome Baker is a luxury that became a necessity.
I asked Jerome Baker during training camp if he was repping at the Will linebacker spot at all and he told me that he was only working at the Sam, but that he knows the Will from working there a bit in the past. On Saturday that was where he started in place of Dante Booker. How did he do? Here finished with five tackles and a fumble recovery. The linebackers weren't perfect, but they were pretty good. Baker is close to the prototype at the Buckeyes' walk-out linebacker spot, but like Luke Fickell said in the spring, they will find a way to get him on the field wherever they can. They likely got him some practice at Will throughout the week just to refresh his memory and he showed that he can handle whatever his coaches want to give him. That's two good games from a guy who wasn't supposed to start this season. And not only is he clearly good enough to start, he's good enough to start at two of the three linebacker spots.

7. Tyler Durbin is better now than he was a week ago.
There is no way that Urban Meyer wanted to take his team into Norman, Oklahoma without his kicker having attempted a single field goal. So while it was disappointing for the offense not to punch the football into the end zone on every red zone trip, Tyler Durbin is better off having gotten some field goal attempts under his belt. He is now 17-17 in PATs and 2-2 on field goals. That's a lot of experience for any kicker in just two games. Oh, and he is now tied for the lead nationally with 17 made PATs.

8. The Buckeye RBs have learned a lot from Ezekiel Elliott.
After the game Urban Meyer praised Mike Weber for the way he now carries the football (high and tight) as opposed to the way he used to carry it (low and loose). Watching and playing with Ezekiel Elliott is a good way to learn how to protect the football, and that's exactly what Weber did. Elliott would even get on him in practice about the way he needs to carry the football. Weber has clearly listened and learned. In terms of run blocking, you saw the Elliott Effect on J.T. Barrett's 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. It was Curtis Samuel who was lead blocking for Barrett and it was a Tulsa linebacker who bore the brunt of Samuel's block to the midsection that freed Barrett to get into the second level and eventually the end zone.

9. The run defense is sneaky good.
While it didn't start out well for the Buckeyes — Tulsa rushed for 55 yards on 17 carries in the first quarter — the run defense finished just it was supposed to. Together, Tulsa running backs D'Angelo Brewer and James Flanders carried the ball 15 times for 62 yards in the first quarter. It was not the start that the Buckeyes would have liked, but they adjusted and responded properly. Tulsa rushed for minus nine yards in the second quarter, four yards in the third quarter and 11 yards in the fourth quarter. For the game they finished with 61 yards rushing on 37 carries (1.6 avg). Bowling Green rushed for 69 yards on 28 carries (2.5 avg) in the season opener. While these two opponents aren't the kind you build a reputation on, it's a better outcome than Michigan managed on Saturday after allowing 275 yards rushing on 46 carries (6.0 avg) to UCF. The first big test comes this weekend for OSU, but so far the Buckeyes have done well on the quizzes.

10. The cornerback rotation is working.
Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs was asked after the game how the cornerback rotation is working and he responded with a respectful, "How do you think it's working?" It wasn't a confrontational answer, it was a conversational response. As in, "What are you seeing when you see the cornerback play so far?" The answer is that he is thrilled with the rotation of Gareon Conley, Denzel Ward, and Marshon Lattimore. Right now they are rotating basically after every series. Each corner gets two series in a row and then one series on the sidelines, save for the second series of the game when somebody has to come out because the rotation is already going. The rotation is something that Coombs has wanted since he got here and now that he finally has it, he is not shying away from using it. Not only does it keep the corners fresher throughout the game, it will keep them fresher throughout the season.

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