Held without a catch against Tulsa, Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave stays positive

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

Early in the fourth quarter of Ohio State’s 41-20 win over Tulsa on Saturday, Chris Olave ran a post route and got ahead of a safety by a few steps.

The move caught the eye of quarterback C.J. Stroud, who flung a pass deep down the field, connecting with the Buckeyes’ star wide receiver for a 47-yard completion.

“At long last, his first catch of the day,” play-by-play announcer Tim Brando roared during the FS1 telecast.

But it was soon wiped away as officials flagged right guard Paris Johnson for a facemask penalty. It would thus become the first time that Olave finished without a reception since a win against Michigan State in 2019, ending a streak of 17 consecutive games with a catch.

“It was tough,” Olave said after practice on Wednesday evening, “but I’m just glad that we got the win.”

Buckeyes by 50 points?:Ohio State vs. Akron spread, odds and betting lines

Pass rush help? Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson eyes improvement

A couple of things went against him in last Saturday’s game. Stroud misfired on some early throws.

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (2) catches a deep pass in front of Tulsa Golden Hurricane safety TieNeal Martin (7) and safety Kendarin Ray (1) during the fourth quarter of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Ohio State won 41-20. The long play was called back due to a face mask penalty at the line of scrimmage.

Olave also dropped one late in the second quarter. When the Buckeyes were approaching the end zone, he was running toward the sideline while Stroud rolled outside the pocket. But it went off his hands, prompting the offense to settle for a field goal.

“That rarely happens to me,” Olave said. “When it happened in the game, that was tough, but it was kind of on me. I put it all on myself, and I just got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Tulsa’s 3-3-5 defense also caused some challenges, at times dropping eight defenders into pass coverage.

It was then more difficult to find holes as gaps in the Golden Hurricane’s zone coverage were smaller, as Olave pointed out.

In response to a rare off-game and heading into Ohio State’s final non-conference contest against Akron on Saturday night, Olave said he has not changed his preparation this week.

“It's the same routine,” he said. “There's going to be games like that, but I can't mess up my routine for those type of games. We just got to keep going, prepare better and show it on Saturday.”

The steady approach is something he learned from Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin, the veteran receiving group who were seniors when Olave was a freshman at Ohio State in 2018.

C.J. Stroud:Ohio State coach Ryan Day not planning to rest QB despite shoulder pain

'It's been hard for him':Ryan Day on Quinn Ewers' adjustment to Ohio State

“I just stay in a routine,” he said. “Try to bring my teammates up with me, stay positive. At the end of the day, we won the game.”

And echoing a similar attitude, it’s why he remains optimistic that Stroud will bounce back along with him after the redshirt freshman quarterback went through some growing pains last week.

“He's doing a good job,” Olave said. “He can get better. He's gonna get better with experience. As the season goes on, he's gonna be way better.”

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

Get more Ohio State football news by listening to our podcasts