CJ. Stroud vs. pressure, Matt Jones forcing some tough decisions – The Athletic

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In his short time in the spotlight, quarterback C.J. Stroud has never appeared to be bothered much by pressure. That’s both in the more figurative, weight of the world on your shoulders kind of sense, as well as in the more literal sense of a bunch of freak athletes chasing after you for three hours on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s been to Stroud’s benefit thus far that he hasn’t had to deal with too much of the latter. Ohio State’s offensive line is among the best in the country at keeping its quarterback clean. And when Stroud has faced pressure, he’s performed admirably. That, however, will continue to become a more difficult task as the competition gets stiffer in the second half of the season. As will maintaining a level-headed composure as the discussion about Stroud and the Buckeyes continues to take on a more glowing tone after a relatively tough start to the season.

“When someone gives criticism or praise, you have to treat it the same way,” head coach Ryan Day said. “You have to stay focused. You have to stay poised. Early on, there was plenty of criticism to go around, and now there’s praise coming. It’s the same thing in my mind. If you don’t believe that, go out and lose a game. Then all of the sudden you’re right back where you started. That’s the challenge that not just C.J., but a bunch of our guys have had to embrace here.”

Stroud went from questions about whether he should be benched to a Heisman Trophy candidate in about three weeks. The questions back then were premature, and it’s quite possible the praise he’s receiving now is, too. It’s enough to simply say that he’s playing better. He’s definitely growing, you have to give him that. And the stats are what we’ve come to expect from Day’s quarterbacks.

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