Ohio State's freshmen play an important role in win over Tulsa

Lori Schmidt
The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State's freshmen stepped up at crucial moments to help the Buckeyes beat Tulsa 41-20. 

"We're young, but we're also talented," said head coach Ryan Day after the victory. "So if we can keep building and get stronger, than the future is going to be really, really bright."

Of course, the most notable performance was that of running back TreVeyon Henderson, who established a new mark for a Buckeye freshman when it came to rushing the ball. His 277 yards surpassed the previous record of 239 set by Archie Griffin in 1972 when the Buckeyes defeated North Carolina 29-14.

"Since he's come here, he's worked really hard. He's been very mature," said Day. "Does not act like a freshman and takes his job very, very seriously. I thought he ran hard today."

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TreVeyon Henderson not the only young Buck to shine

But there were other Ohio State youngsters who had a hand in the win, mostly for a defense that has been struggling to find an identity through the first three games. 

"You see Denzel Burke have an interception. It got overturned, but it was one heck of a play. And then you see a guy like Tyliek Williams pop and sack the quarterback in a big spot. I mean, those are really encouraging things," noted Day.  "And there were other things too."

Although referees said that Burke's pick was a completed catch by Tulsa's Sam Crawford with Crawford being down immediately after the grab, Burke had other big moments. He recorded five tackles on the day and two pass breakups. 

Williams sack came late in the third quarter. He tackled Brin Davis on third down, costing the Golden Hurricane 17 yards and forcing them to punt. On the ensuing drive, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Garrett Wilson would connect on a 12-yard touchdown that put the Buckeyes ahead 34-20. 

"It was good to see Tyliek get that one, but we've got to do a little bit better job of making the quarterback uncomfortable," observed Day. "But we are challenging. We are getting better, and you're seeing some young guys make some plays."

Williams had three tackles overall. 

Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (35) and cornerback Denzel Burke (29) tackle Tulsa Golden Hurricane running back Anthony Watkins (23) during the third quarter of the Buckeyes' 41-20 win.

With defensive end Zach Harrison sidelined for the game, J.T. Tuimoloau stepped in. He also made a stop on third down in the third quarter.

At the same time, however, Day pointed out that some of the mistakes Saturday were the result of youth and inexperience.

Freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud had a slightly uneven performance when compared to last week's game against Oregon. The signal caller was 15-for-25 passing with 185 yards, a touchdown and an interception. 

"Lot of deep breaths. Yeah, a lot of deep breaths," said Day. "It's kind of that give and take."

At this point, the give and take means Ohio State is far from a finished product. 

"A lot of young guys in there playing early on and so they have to learn, but they have to grow up real quick," he said. 

They grew up quickly enough to move to 2-1 on the season with Akron coming to town Sept. 25, and they provided Day with at least a little optimism going forward. 

"You know there's going to be growing pains along the way," he said, "but whatever you invest in these guys, you're going to get back here in the future. That's the exciting part here. I think we have a really exciting young team here." 

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