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Opinion: Casey’s Callouts: The unsung heroes of No. 5 Ohio State’s victory over Indiana

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Ohio State freshman wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) moves the ball down the field during the Ohio-State-Indiana game on Saturday. Ohio State won 54-7. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

No. 5 Ohio State beat the brakes off Indiana (2-5, 0-4 Big Ten), nearly dropping a 50-burger in the first half alone — something that hasn’t happened since the Buckeyes put up 55 points in the first two quarters against Florida A&M Sept. 21, 2013.

Fingers could easily be pointed to weekly regulars who fill up the stat sheets — redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud and freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson — but I was inspired Monday while watching “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”

An unknown team called the Average Joe’s Gymnasium played in a dodgeball tournament to win the $50,000 grand prize to save their gym that was in foreclosure. They rise up, defy the odds and overtake their rival, the Globo Gym Purple Cobras, in the finals — the movie came out in 2004, so if I’m spoiling it, that’s not on me.

Nevertheless, in this week’s callouts, I’m going to highlight the “average joes” on the Buckeyes (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) who shined, despite maybe getting overlooked originally in Ohio State’s 54-7 victory against the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Indiana.

The offensive line

When your name is called as an offensive lineman, it is usually not a good thing, whether that is because of a penalty, or getting blown past and allowing a sack. The only time you want to be known is when you’re getting praised in the film room.

Reviewing the tape of this past weekend has revealed a glaring truth: the big boys down low are nasty.

Arguably one of the best units in the country tends to run slide protections to perfection, driving their assignment to the parking lot.

This led to 187 rushing yards, with eight going for at least 10 yards — Henderson’s 25-yard tote in the second quarter was the longest of the game.

On the Buckeyes’ first drive of the second half, Stroud was brought down in the backfield by Hoosiers standout senior linebacker Micah McFadden. That was it in the sack column for Indiana, as Stroud had a clean pocket to work from all day, completing 75 percent of his passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns.

There was an ineligible man downfield in the second quarter and a holding penalty early in the fourth, so check the box where the offensive line’s name wasn’t called much.

That led to six Ohio State offensive lineman being graded as “Champions” by the Buckeyes’ coaches. So Thayer Munford, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Matthew Jones, Paris Johnson Jr., Luke Wypler and Dawand Jones: kudos, cheers and hoorah for your work in the trenches. It did not go unnoticed.

Kourt Williams II

As the defense has grown into itself, redshirt freshman safety Kourt Williams II has found the majority of his snaps being taken in the second half of games when the game is a runaway.

He has slipped into the shadows behind sophomore safeties Ronnie Hickman, Bryson Shaw, Lathan Ransom and Craig Young in the defensive rotation, but showed out Saturday, totaling three tackles and a tackle for loss.

In this week’s video breakdown of the defensive line , there was a play where Indiana lined up in trips formation, but all three receivers ended up blocking. Hoosiers graduate running back Stephen Carr ran a route to the flat, but Williams prevented freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley from making the easy dump-off pass.

Williams sprinted from his position and knocked the wide receiver backwards to where Carr was running his route, leading to McCulley scanning the field for other options before being brought down in the backfield by senior defensive end Tyreke Smith.

The Buckeyes need to worry about finishing — especially last week, as they let Indiana dwindle down a 35-7 lead to a one-possession game in 2020 — and that comes with the backups, like Williams, stepping up when called on.

With games that could get ugly against Nebraska and Purdue, expect to see Williams on the field with this same speed and intensity he showed Saturday that earned him “Champion” status by the Ohio State coaching staff.

Marvin Harrison Jr.

I was in the elevator at Memorial Stadium, and some Indiana staffers who I assumed to be Colts fans, being about an hour from Indianapolis, said, “Man, hearing Marvin Harrison Jr. sure makes you feel old.”

The freshman wide receiver, like Williams, sees most of his action after the three-headed monster of senior Chris Olave, junior Garrett Wilson and sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba hit the bench.

He got the opportunity to play with the first team for a couple snaps, but didn’t haul in any passes. His two receptions came from a familiar face: high school teammate and freshman quarterback Kyle McCord.

The two linked up on a slant that went for 14 yards and an out route that Harrison turned into a 20-yard gain, juking side to side and putting a defender on ice skates in the process.

Harrison first made an impact on special teams, tackling Indiana freshman punter James Evans in the end zone for a safety.

It is interesting: Olave put himself on the map with a big special teams play in his freshman season. Now, Harrison, also a freshman, put himself on the map with a big special teams play.

I know it might be a stretch this early in Harrison’s career to be comparing him to Olave — one of the best receivers to ever don the scarlet and gray — but with his glue-like hands and route-running ability, I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes down in the Ohio State history books.

I mean, hey, he did have a pretty good teacher growing up.

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