The first six weeks of Ohio State’s football season went as smoothly as anyone could have imagined. The offense is rolling and the defense bears little resemblance, except in personnel, to the one that was a sieve last year.

But the off week before Friday night’s game against Northwestern gave coaches and players a chance to take a step back. Their conclusion: The No. 4 Buckeyes (6-0) aren’t quite as flawless as the results would indicate.

Coaches took time during the past week to evaluate tendencies and work on fundamentals. Coach Ryan Day said players were given an assessment of three things they’ve done well and three things they need to improve to “show them that we have to get better.”

Day said that players met with both their position coaches and with him.

“Those are ways to really say these are things that if we’re going to go where we want to go, you’re going to have to do that,” he said, “and then talking to the team about things we need to do better as a team.”

Safety Jordan Fuller welcomed the off week.

“I think it’s always good to take a step back. During the week you’re really focused on the opponent. During the bye week, you can look in the mirror.”

Northwestern, which Ohio State defeated in the Big Ten championship game last season, is a disappointing 1-4. The Wildcats’ struggles have mainly come on offense.

“I think they do a tremendous job on defense,” Day said. “Pat (Fitzgerald) is as good a coach as there is in the country. It’s hard to find a yard against them."

Undefeated Wisconsin looms the following week, but Day is already guarding against overlooking Northwestern, a four-touchdown underdog.

“We all know what happens when you lose focus,” Day said. “You don’t take anything for granted. You don’t make any assumptions.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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