Football

CJ Stroud Hitting Stride At Just The Right Time

No, CJ Stroud didn’t run the ball as much as some Buckeye fans still want him to, but he did complete 32 of 35 passes for 432 yards and tie a school record with six touchdown passes in Saturday’s resounding 56-7 win over No. 7 Michigan State.

(And he tied the school record for touchdown passes in an ENTIRE game in just SEVEN drives in the FIRST half.)

Yes, the Spartans came into yesterday’s game allowing more passing yards than any other team in the nation, but they were far from the worst defense in terms of pass efficiency or yards per pass attempt allowed. And no, it shouldn’t diminish what Stroud and the Ohio State passing game was able to do on Saturday.

Now that we’ve gotten the terms of agreement out of the way, let’s go ahead and spend some time appreciating what Stroud and the Buckeyes did on Saturday, along with the pace that Stroud has currently been on of late.

I don’t care how many yards passing a defense allows on average, Stroud completed 29-of-31 passes in the first half. That’s impressive against fourth graders. That’s running routes, matching the timing, having the accuracy, and not having any drops. Quarterbacks don’t go 29-of-31 on their pro day when there is no defense, no pass rush, no progressions, and only one receiver is running a route.

Yeah, Chris Olave made a tremendous catch on Stroud’s school-record 17th completion in a row. I’m not saying CJ Stroud did this on his own. No quarterback can, but it’s time for the last handful of Stroud truthers to let go of their weird anger and admit that he’s doing just fine — and in fact doing better than any other Buckeye quarterback in his first 10 starts ever.

With the understanding that there is a lot more to be done, let’s actually look at the numbers from the first 10 starts of the careers of CJ Stroud, Justin Fields, and Dwayne Haskins.

Haskins
266 completions, 386 attempts, 68.9%, 3,280 yards passing, 8.5 yards per attempt, 33 TDs, 6 INTs

Fields
159 completions, 230 attempts, 69.1%, 2,164 yards passing, 9.4 yards per attempt, 31 TDs, 1 INTs

Stroud
246 completions, 346 attempts, 71.1%, 3,468 yards passing, 10.0 yards per attempt, 36 TDs, 5 INTs

And since I know some people are asking to have Fields’ rushing total included in the numbers above, go ahead and put his 377 yards and 10 touchdowns on the board. And while you’re doing that, don’t forget to also include his 14 yards rushing on 26 attempts in two postseason games because he was so hobbled at that point in the season.

After all, if you want a guy to run, you have to accept the downside as well.

But I don’t want to sit here and chastise a small percentage of Buckeye fans while the majority are already accepting of what they’ve been blessed with at quarterback this year.

Earlier in the season, Stroud became the first Buckeye quarterback to throw 10 touchdown passes over two games with no interceptions. The past two Saturdays, however, he’s thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, breaking his own mini-record in the process. And that was against two ranked teams.

Ever since Stroud’s shoulder was rested against Akron, he’s been as good as anybody could have hoped. And he’s just a redshirt freshman.

Since he returned from injury seven games ago, Stroud has thrown for 2,505 yards with 28 touchdowns and two interceptions.

For a comparison, when Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy in 2006, he threw for 2,542 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 204 yards and one touchdown.

We are all getting to witness something special at Ohio State right now and it should be appreciated.

Stroud is getting to work with the greatest receiving trio in Buckeye history and has the offensive line to keep him upright and true on the vast majority of snaps. He is making the most of just about every single dropback. Stroud is distributing the ball all over the field and doing it on time.

Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba know where and when to expect the ball and Stroud meets those expectations on more than most of his throws.

The Ohio State passing game was a beautiful thing to watch on Saturday, and it’s been building at just the right time.

The Buckeyes have the biggest game of the season next Saturday and the offense is trending exactly the way Ohio State was hoping it would be in late November.

CJ Stroud’s season is far from over, and yet despite everything he has already done, how it will be remembered is just beginning.

[CJ Stroud header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]