When Ohio State rolled over Rutgers 52-13 on Saturday, everybody got to see practice C.J. Stroud, the version of himself that convinced Ryan Day he was the one who should be Ohio State’s starting quarterback with his body of work during spring practice and preseason practice.
Stroud completed 17 of 23 passes for 330 yards and five touchdowns in his best performance so far in his first year as a starter.
He was on target with almost every pass. He was consistent and, to the untrained eye, only made one or two bad decisions.
And he appeared to be healthy. He came back strong after sitting out last week’s game against Akron to rest a sore shoulder that had bothered him since early in the season.
He also benefited from getting into a good rhythm early with his receivers, which included tight end Jeremy Ruckert, who got back into the passing game with four catches. Chris Olave caught five passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and Garrett Wilson had three catches for 71 yards.
And Stroud also had plenty of time to make his reads and find those receivers.
There are hermits living in cabins in the woods who have more human contact than Stroud did most of the afternoon when he dropped back to pass.
Day agreed that what Stroud did in the game mostly replicated what he has done in practice.
“This is what he’s capable of. But now he’s got to bring it, he’s got to be consistent. There are a lot of things we’re going to watch on film tomorrow and get corrected. We’ve got to come back and do it next week,” Day said.
“Now there’s a body of work on film and guys are going to try to attack him different ways and he’s going to have to have answers. That’s playing in the Big Ten. But you can see what he’s capable of.
“I think it was the most comfortable he has looked. But at the same time he is still really, really young and really green.
“He’s going to have good times and good plays and bad plays. But he didn’t get rattled. He has good players around him. He has a good offensive line. These guys did a good job of giving him time back there. He really wasn’t pressured. And the receivers made big plays.”
Kyle McCord, who started against Akron, was the second quarterback into the game for the Buckeyes and completed one pass for three yards. Jack Miller got into the game in the fourth quarter and attempted one pass.
By the time they entered the game Ohio State was up 52-6 and was pretty much done with passing the ball.
Stroud probably didn’t convince 100 percent of Ohio State fans Day made the right choice in making him the starting quarterback. But on Saturday, he certainly passed the eye test or the look test, or whatever you want to call it.