The More Difficult Test For C.J. Stroud Against Penn State Defense

C.J. Stroud is set to make his first start on Saturday night against the Penn State defense. The junior has faced some of the toughest defenses in college football, but Ryan Day expects a more difficult test from Penn State’s defense this weekend as they have been playing well so far this season and will likely be coming from multiple angles to try and slow down C.J., who has proven he can break tackles for huge gains with his speed and power. C.J. is the only Ohio State running back that has not recorded a touchdown on Saturday, but he plans to change that this week against Penn State in order to get the offense rolling again after two straight weeks of scoring less than 20 points.

I’m excited for C.J., said Ryan Day when asked about how many carries C.J. would get on Saturday against Penn State. I think he’s at his best when the game is in front of him and I think it will be a big challenge for our line because their defensive line has been one of the most productive guys in the country so far, so I’m excited to see how our guys hold up.

C.J. is the only Ohio State running back that will face a defense outside of their conference on Saturday night, but he has faced these types of defenses throughout his career with the Buckeyes. Stroud was named Freshman All-American by USA Today in 2016 after accounting for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as part of an undefeated backfield for the Buckeyes. Last season, Stroud became only the second freshman in Ohio State history to record over 500 receiving yards on his way to being named 2017’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year by BT Sports. C.J. is already tied for third on this year’s team with 11 receptions and has averaged 7.0 yards per carry for 47 yards on the ground.

It will be a good challenge, said C.J. about playing Penn State this Saturday. I spent some time there so I’ll have a chip on my shoulder, but I’m more excited than anything else to get out there.

C.J.’s attitude has been a positive one in his time with the Buckeyes and has been key to staying focused on Saturdays. This past weekend, when he was lifted from Ohio State’s win against Indiana for not following team rules, could have been much worse for C.J., but he took it in stride and is excited about what this week will bring. He knows that he is capable of making plays when his number is called, but also knows that he must continue to work hard every day in order to put himself in these positions.

It’s never fun having to be lifted off the field, said C.J., but it was something I did and needed to happen so I can improve myself and grow off the field. I think it will be a good challenge for me.

It was a harsh reality check that C.J. received from Ryan Day when he was removed from this past weekend’s game, but C.J., unsurprisingly, has been great since being benched in Maryland and is ready to prove himself yet again on Saturday night.

I think C.J.’s attitude has been great every day since then, said Ryan Day of Stroud’s practice on Monday morning ahead of this weekend’s game. He knows that he made a mistake and he is ready to come out here and play.

Penn State’s defense currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten against the run and is coming off 20-point effort in a win against Michigan State in week three. Penn State leads the nation with 16 sacks and will look to pressure Ohio State’s young quarterback, Justin Fields. While Fields was not sacked last weekend against Indiana or Maryland, he has shown flashes of brilliance despite his young age at 19 years old. Penn State will use this to their advantage and try to rattle Fields early, which could force Ohio State to abandon the run game as they have in weeks past. C.J., however, is a different story with a proven track record of success against top-tier opponents going back two seasons with the Buckeyes.