COLUMBUS — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wanted the freshman from North Ridgeville to get his feet wet during Saturday’s season opener against Bowling Green.
Demario McCall decided to do a cannonball.
McCall, who was put in late in the third quarter, rushed eight times for 54 yards and a touchdown and caught a 36-yard pass for another score during the Buckeyes’ 77-10 win over the Falcons.
“I kind of hate when I see that score, that’s not what our intent was,” Meyer said. “We do like to score a lot of points, but we pulled our guys in the middle of the third quarter with the intent (of slowing the scoring) but there’s guys like Demario and other guys fighting like a dog to get playing time. It was good to see them compete and make some plays.”
While McCall was enjoying his dream debut, Elyria’s Tracy Sprinkle was living out a nightmare.
Sprinkle, a junior who won a starting job at defensive tackle in the offseason, was pushed to the ground late in the first quarter and might be done for the season.
“Patella tendon injury is what they’re telling me, which is not good,” Meyer said. “It’s a surgery and a season-ending (one) is what I’ve been told.
“And that’s the worst part of this darned game is when a guy gets hurt, especially a guy like that who has committed so much to this team and program. Our prayers are with Tracy.”
Rashod Berry’s day was somewhere in between his Lorain County teammates. The redshirt freshman — and Lorain High grad — saw plenty of time on the field as a member of several special teams units and also rotated in at defensive end, but he finished with just an assisted tackle.
“It was fun,” Berry said of his college debut. “I worked my (butt) off this offseason and I was ready to play. It was really special.”
Special was just one of many words McCall used to describe his first college action.
“Coming into this game, there was a lot of nervousness, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “Once that kickoff got going, I waited my turn and I did what I did once I got my opportunity. I took advantage of it.”
McCall trotted onto the field with 6:30 left in the third quarter and was handed the ball on the first play — a 3-yard run up the middle.
“That first touch always tells you how the game’s going to go,” McCall said. “You take that first hit and shake it off and it’s like, ‘OK, this is what it is.’ Once I got past that, it was on.”
McCall had another short gain — 4 yards over the right guard — on the next possession, then hauled in a swing pass from backup quarterback Joe Burrow and beat the Falcons defense down the right sideline and into the end zone.
“The coaches set me up for that,” McCall said. “They told me to go out there and do what I do best. I didn’t believe it until I got in there. I seen it, but I didn’t believe it until I crossed the (goal) line.”
McCall wasn’t done. He used a brilliant spin move to avoid a tackle and picked up 14 yards and his second straight first down on the next drive. Then he took a handoff, cut right and again burned the defense around the end for his first collegiate rushing touchdown.
“My offensive line had a big push and me having the vision that I have, I saw the opportunity and I took it,” McCall said. “I made somebody miss, I made my couple moves and I used my speed on the outside.
“The first touchdown, it didn’t hit me like it’s supposed to. But that second one hit me, like, ‘You just scored twice in your first college football game.’”
That was apparently two times more than Meyer expected — or even wanted.
“Our mentality is four-to-six, A-to-B — that’s what we hear from the coaches 24/7,” McCall said. “Every play should last four to six seconds and we should get from one point to the next as fast as you can. With that mentality, how can you slow down?”
Or ever get dry.
- Picking up the slack: Big defensive plays offset slow-starting offense as Ohio State trounces Tulsa
- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to retire after Rose Bowl (UPDATED)
- Ohio State defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle, an Elyria native, named to watch list for Wuerffel Trophy
- Secondary stars: Ohio State, Michigan defenses standing tall, could be difference in game
- Survival game: No. 2 Ohio State holds on, denies Michigan State's upset bid
- No. 6 Ohio State 62, Maryland 3: Buckeyes pile up the points for second straight week
- J.T. Barrett threw four touchdowns to lead No. 6 Ohio State to a lopsided win over No. 9 Nebraska
- Ohio State: Buckeyes trying to keep focus on next game
- Quarterback J.T. Barrett is Ohio State's undisputed leader
- College football: Meyer dismayed by Buckeyes' lack of deep passing success
- Pass fails, Buckeyes don't: Ohio State relies on QB J.T. Barrett's legs to pile up yards, run past Indiana
- Ohio State has no problem with Rutgers, rolls 58-0
- College football: Urban Meyer knows his young Buckeyes have lots of room for improvement despite impressive start
- No. 2 Ohio State grabs OT win over No. 8 Wisconsin
- Ohio State's Meyer expects tougher test from Tulsa
- North Ridgeville's McCall enjoying elite experience at U.S. Army All-American Bowl
- Ohio State rolls up record numbers in season-opening romp over Bowling Green
- Ohio State: Elyria's Tracy Sprinkle, Lorain's Rashod Berry make good impression on defensive line during spring game
- Ohio State rebuilding its lines on both sides of the ball