Miami (Ohio) quarterback Brett Gabbert opened Saturday by going two-for-three for 21 yards.
He finished 5-for-15 with 48 yards and an interception.
After holding two 1,100-yard rushers from 2018 to 15 yards and nine yards in consecutive games, Ohio State’s run defense received its fair share of praise. Saturday against the Redhawks, its pass defense showed capable by surrendering just 60 yards through the air, intercepting a pass and sacking Miami quarterbacks five times.
Two of the sacks resulted in lost fumbles, which brought Miami’s turnover total on pass plays to three.
“We get the turnover in short field, and then we’re able to turn it into points,” head coach Ryan Day said. “Anytime that happens you can turn the momentum, it can flip fast. I think that’s what happened.”
Junior cornerback Jeffrey Okudah said during fall camp that he wasn’t leaving Ohio State without intercepting a pass, and Saturday he fulfilled that promise.
Gabbert dropped back for a second quarter pass, overthrew his intended receiver and the ball landed in Okudah’s diving arms.
After the career milestone, Okudah thought of his mother, who passed away in 2017.
“When that play was over, when I sat back and reflected on it, I looked up, thanked God, and I kind of saw my mom just looking down, really proud of that moment,” Okudah said.
There’s an old saying in football that pressure beats coverage, meaning that if you can pressure an opposing quarterback, he’s less likely to hit a receiver who may be under-covered.
Early, Gabbert threw his passes as quickly as possible after the snap, which can neutralize a pass rush by not giving them time to get there.
As the game wore on and Miami fell behind, it started to try to work more downfield throws. Ohio State piled up five sacks — two of them strip-sacks that led to turnovers — and a quarterback hurry.
Junior defensive end Chase Young continues to lead the way on pass rush for Ohio State, now with seven sacks on the season after accounting for both strip-sacks Saturday.
“To see Chase come off the edge like that was unbelievable,” Day said. “It’s one thing to be veteran. It’s one thing to be really good. It’s another thing to play that way and produce.”
Young accounted for the other quarterback hurry too, but said he’ll remember a missed opportunity in the first quarter even more.
“I was really mad at myself on that one,” Young said. “You try to forget about it, you know? Next play. I try to just play next play.”
Army and Georgia Southern are the only two teams nationally that average 60 yards or fewer per game through the air.
Ohio State reduced the Redhawk aerial assault to the caliber of those two schools, both of which run option offenses and attempt passes less than 10 times per game.
Okudah and Young are part of that equation, but redshirt senior cornerback Damon Arnette added a pass break-up and three other Buckeyes contributed sacks of their own.
The Buckeye defense held the Redhawks to 130 yards of total offense, nearly 500 yards less than its offense gained. That could’ve been expected, given that, by 2018 numbers, Miami is the worst total offense Ohio State plays this season.
Now, it’s back to the film room as the Buckeyes leave nonconference play.
“Our kids know that they have to try to get better every week,” co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. “It’s not really who you play, it’s each week, we’ve gotta get better.”