LATEST OHIO STATE BUCKEYES NEWS: Ohio State’s victory over Penn State taught Kyle McCord a…


Kyle McCord has yet to be burned by his eagerness to make a play. But he’s flirted with that danger enough to understand that he must learn from his mistakes.AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kyle McCord made a decision on the field in back-to-back games that could have very easily cost Ohio State a game had a few other things gone differently.

Those decisions are part one of the most important parts of his development that has been put on hold for much of the past two seasons until he finally won the starting job in 2023. There’s a time to try making a play and there’s a time to cut your losses. But you don’t always know that until you have to face real consequences for your actions.

“That’s one of the hardest things to replicate in practice because the defense isn’t allowed to touch you in practice,” McCord said. “Once you get in the game you have to see almost where you’re at in terms of making those plays. There’s been times this year when I’ve done that than times when I should’ve just been smarter and taken a sack. Right now I have a pretty good balance for where I am. I’ve learned my lesson from last week and just have to continue to grow up on that.”

The lesson against Penn State was being willing to accept that you’ve been beaten on a given play and just taking a sack. He’d driven the Buckeyes deep into Nittany Lion territory when he then tried to make a play that was probably never there. The result was a fumble that should’ve been a 60-yard scoop-and-score for PSU in the second quarter that would’ve given the road team a 10-7 lead.

But McCord got lucky. Kalen King was flagged for a defensive hold on Marvin Harrison Jr. who was the initial read on the play that removed the fumble and gave Ohio State the ball back. What could’ve been a costly turnover instead turned into a Miyan Williams touchdown run a few plays later.

McCord had a good reason for trying to make something happen. That didn’t make doing so worth it.

“Marvin was really the first read on that play and got held up so I got out of the pocket trying to extend it,” McCord said. “We were on that fringe range so I was trying to throw it away instead of taking a sack because if we took a sack there we’d probably be out of field goal range. I have to do a better job of getting rid of that ball earlier or if worse comes to worse just taking a sack there & living with it rather than what could have been a touchdown for Penn State.”

McCord is still learning a concept that he classified as ‘weighing the risk with the reward.’ It’s been a long time since he’s dealt with what can happen when the need to make something happen goes wrong. He was a five-star recruit in high school who could effortlessly push the ball down the field while winning three straight state championships. Then he was C.J. Stroud’s backup for two years where often the worst thing that can happen in practice is the occasional chewing-out session from a coach.

But now his decisions matter as Ohio State’s championship aspirations hang the balance with every one he makes.

“That’s part of the game that I need to get better at,” McCord said. “Not putting the ball in harm’s way. If we stay on schedule and I took a sack there against Penn State it would’ve sucked in the moment but they wouldn’t have gotten a touchdown. Thankfully the refs saw the hold.”


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