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For Columbus Dispatch Subscribers Ohio State 59, Akron 7

Buckeyes roll over Akron to make Kyle McCord's quarterback debut a success

Kyle McCord's quarterback debut was a successful one as the Buckeyes beat Akron 59-7.

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Kyle McCord's quarterback debut was a successful one as the Buckeyes beat Akron 59-7.

Published Updated

As quarterback debuts go, Kyle McCord's for Ohio State on Saturday was blissfully routine.

It helps to have a talented supporting cast, a defense that played as if it had something to prove, and, oh yeah, an overmatched opponent.

Akron scored first but then provided no resistance as McCord threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 10 Buckeyes routed the Zips 59-7 in front of 95,178 at Ohio Stadium.

The night's only real drama came in the second quarter, and it had nothing to do with Akron. 

Senior linebacker K'Vaughan Pope was escorted to the locker room by an Ohio State official after he had an argument on the OSU sideline. Pope then tweeted a profane comment about his apparently now-former school. Pope had been expected to compete for significant playing time this year but had been used sparingly.

Ohio State football 2021

"I'm going to get the details of everything that happened before I say anything," coach Ryan Day said.

Buckeye players also didn't have much to add about what happened.

"It is what it is, and I don't really want to get into that," defensive tackle Haskell Garrett said.

As for the game, it went mostly as expected for the Buckeyes (3-1), a 48-point favorite.

McCord, a five-star true freshman, got the nod over redshirt freshman Jack Miller to start in place of C.J. Stroud, who is nursing a sore shoulder. McCord misfired on Ohio State's first possession before starting to find a groove after Day gave him some encouraging words.

Watch: Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord throws first touchdown pass in college football career

Watch: Ohio State football coach Ryan Day took two questions on the K'Vaughan Pope situation

Watch: The Dispatch's Bill Rabinowitz, Joey Kaufman break down Ohio State's win over Akron

"Just take a deep breath and find the speed of the game," Day said he told McCord. "Trust your eyes. Trust your reads. He'd done a lot of preparation to get here. And then I thought he settled down a little bit."

Day dusted off the playbook from the J.T. Barrett days and had McCord use the shovel pass to get the offense clicking. After Akron (1-3) drove 55 yards on its first possession for its only score, McCord's first completion was a shovel pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba for 22 yards.

Running back TreVeyon Henderson then weaved 35 yards to set up another shovel pass, this one to Chris Olave, for a 5-yard touchdown. Garrett Wilson turned a wide receiver screen into a 57-yard gain to set up a 3-yard Henderson touchdown run to give Ohio State the lead with 11 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Buckeyes poured it on in the second quarter. It started when McCord threw to Smith-Njigba for a 34-yard touchdown. 

Then Ohio State's defense took over. Linebacker Cody Simon intercepted Akron quarterback DJ Irons to set up Henderson's second score on a 14-yard carry to make it 28-7. Henderson, who last week broke Archie Griffin's freshman rushing record with 277 yards, ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns in only eight carries, all in the first half.

Safety Ronnie Hickman followed that with the Buckeyes' first pick-6 of the season when plucked a pass bobbled by Tristian Brank and ran 46 yards for a touchdown.

After Akron's first drive, Ohio State's defense yielded only 56 yards the rest of the half. Ohio State's pass rush, which has been a disappointment this season, had nine sacks in the game despite missing several defensive linemen. Garrett had three sacks.

Ohio State led 38-7 at halftime before McCord threw an interception on Ohio State's first drive of the third quarter. He rebounded with the game's biggest gain. He threw to fellow freshman Emeka Egbuka for an 85-yard completion to set up a 2-yard touchdown by Master Teague.

McCord completed 13 of 18 passes. Miller replaced him midway through the third quarter and directed the Buckeyes on two touchdown drives. Miller completed 5 of 8 passes for 66 yards as Ohio State used backups the rest of the way.

Ohio State outgained Akron 622-229. Given how overmatched Akron was, it's unknown just how much of a true step forward this was for a Buckeye team still trying to jell.

"Overall, I thought we did some good things," Day said. "I thought there were still some things to build on, of course. But you can certainly see there's a lot of guys out there that desperately need these snaps and this experience to keep building. That's the idea — if we keep building, then we'll have a chance to get to where we want to be by the end of the season."


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