BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Sitting in the postgame press conference following Ohio State’s season-opening win at Indiana on Saturday, head coach Ryan Day referred to quarterback Kyle McCord’s performance as a “mixed bag.”
Day added he would need to see the film before he could know whether that mixed bag slanted slightly towards a positive or negative note, but his initial assessment of McCord’s performance was perfectly summarized on a day when the Ohio State offense was seldom in rhythm but did just enough to win comfortably behind a stout defensive effort.
McCord finished the day with 20 completions on 33 attempts for 239 yards and no touchdowns while also tossing one interception. He played all but one series in the first half and gave way to Devin Brown in the second half only for Brown to run out what little time remained in the game.
McCord’s day featured a few quality throws that served as a reminder as to why he was a highly-touted recruit in 2021 and why he was the odds-on favorite to win the starting job this summer. Two particular throws — a 49-yard completion to Cade Stover and a 27-yard strike to Julian Fleming — caught the eye of his head coach in the third quarter in one of the few moments when the offense was humming at a pace near what the program has come to expect.
Both those throws were part of scoring drives in a game where points were hard to come by and erased any doubt about McCord’s ability to get the ball to Ohio State’s plethora of playmakers if given time to make his progressions.
Of course, McCord had his share of throws he would like to have back, including the interception in which he committed the cardinal sin of quarterbacking by throwing the ball late and back across his body toward the middle of the field. McCord could be excused for the decision as the play came on fourth down, however, and his primary receiver was tripped up in his route in what would have otherwise been an easy score.
Still, Day noted following the game the decision could have proven to be very costly had the interception been returned into Ohio State territory or even for a touchdown.
McCord also got away with a couple more poorly thrown balls that easily could have led to turnovers, throws he may not be so fortunate to survive in future games.
All things considered, the performance was exactly what Day labeled it. And despite the lofty expectations of the position given the recent track record under Day, that’s perfectly reasonable as Ohio State heads into week two and McCord into his second game as the true starting quarterback.
Much like C.J. Stroud after his first career start at Minnesota in 2021, there is plenty of room for improvement. But under the tutelage of Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis, progression is likely, and McCord sounded eager to get back to work following the game.
“There were some good plays but also some things I want to clean up,” McCord said. “I feel like we definitely left some points on the field. We moved the ball, I think, pretty well. It’s just those times in the red zone, you want to make touchdowns rather than field goals. But I’ll go back and watch (the film), learn from it, and get better.”
Perhaps most notably, Saturday’s handling of the quarterback situation seemed to erase any doubt about who will lead the Ohio State offense for the foreseeable future. While Day said he hoped to get Brown in for another series in the first half, the need to allow McCord to find a rhythm took precedence, and it paid off as the offense looked much more comfortable in the second half.
The vote of confidence wasn’t lost on McCord, who said following the game the trust his head coach showed in him to begin the second half “meant a lot.”
“Now it’s my job to continue to grow,” he added.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.