COLUMBUS — After a week of hearing what was wrong, TreVeyon Henderson gave Ohio State’s players, coaches and fans something very, very right to talk about.
The freshman running back ran for 277 yards and three touchdowns in his first start in college football when OSU beat Tulsa 41-20 on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Henderson had touchdown runs of 52 yards, 50 yards and five yards and two other runs of 54 yards and 48 yards.
“He’s somebody who can hit home runs and that’s special. He has that special talent,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.
Henderson’s 277 yards broke Archie Griffin’s Ohio State record for a freshman running back of 239 yards, set against North Carolina in 1972.
“I have a lot of goals and I reached one today,” Henderson said. “But I can’t let this be a one time thing. I have to stay hungry.”
Quarterback C.J. Stroud said, “We already knew he was special. He has a God-given talent. He put it on display for the whole nation today. It was amazing watching him do what he did today.”
Without Henderson’s heroics No. 9 Ohio State might have had an unamazing day for the second Saturday in a row after losing 35-28 to Oregon last Saturday.
Ohio State (2-1) started slowly and was up only 13-6 at halftime over winless Tulsa (0-3.)
After pushing its lead to 20-6 on Henderson’s 48-yard touchdown run on its first possession of the second half, Ohio State saw the Golden Hurrricane cut the lead to a single touchdown twice in the second half at 20-13 in the final minute of the third quarter and at 27-20 with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But a 12-yard touchdown pass from Stroud to Garrett Wilson with 3:07 left in the game and a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown by Cameron Martinez with 1:50 to play allowed the Buckeyes to stretch the final score out to 41-20.
“Overall it was great to get a win and kind of get last week out of our system. There are certainly a lot of things to work on. There are a lot of things to work on on both sides of the ball. It was great to get the running game going today,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.
Ohio State’s defense, which had been the subject of much criticism since the loss to Oregon, gave up 428 yards passing but held Tulsa to 73 yards rushing.
Defensive backs coach Matt Barnes took over the defensive play calling on Saturday and defensive coordinator for the last two seasons, Kerry Coombs, worked from the press box in what cannot be called anything other than a demotion.
Day said he expects that to be a long-term change. “We’re going to watch the film and assess it. That (today’s change) is kind of the way I see it going forward. The way things went today were pretty smooth.”
Asked how Coombs reacted, he said, “He’s a professional. He’s an Ohio guy, he’s from the state of Ohio. He just wants to win. He’s still very much a big part of this defense.”
While the running game had its way with Tulsa’s defense, OSU’s passing game hit some rough patches.
Stroud was 15 of 25 for 185 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted once and his longest completion went for 20 yards. And Chris Olave was held without a catch for the first time in the last 23 games in which he has played, dating back to the Rose Bowl at the end of his freshman season in 2018.
Stroud, a redshirt freshman with three career starts, apparently heard some of the criticism of his play last week.
“I feel like I’m getting better every week. I know a lot of people probably don’t agree with me but that’s OK. I don’t worry about the negativity, I’m all about the positivity,” he said.
Stroud has been playing with a sore shoulder but said it is not too sore to play.
“It hurts but life hurts. Winning is tough. I just have to grind through it. That’s just playing football.
You’re never at 100 percent after that first game. It’s tough but I’m a tough guy. I just have to keep going and keep playing,” he said.
Day said he saw progress in the Buckeyes’ pass defense despite Tulsa quarterback Davis Brin completing 31 of 54 passes for 428 yards and two touchdowns.
Ronnie Hickman and Martinez had interceptions and Denzel Burke had one taken away on a replay review.
“You’re starting to see guys (in the defensive backfield) challenge the ball,” Day said. “But we have to do a little bit better at making the quarterback uncomfortable.