Prince's postgame talk challenges Buckeyes

Tim May
tmay@dispatch.com

In the gloom of the post-game locker room following Ohio State’s staggering 49-20 loss at Purdue on Saturday night, senior right tackle Isaiah Prince reportedly stood in the front of the team and delivered an impassioned speech that the season is far from over, that all they want to play for is still attainable.

In so doing, he borrowed from the leadership moment then-center Billy Price seized upon almost a full year earlier when, in the wake of the stunning 55-24 loss at Iowa, he told the team he expected to win a ring before the season was done. The Buckeyes went on to win out, including a victory in the Big Ten championship game and the accompanying ring, though they finished fifth in the final College Football Playoff rankings and settled for a Cotton Bowl win over Southern California.

Whether the 2018 Buckeyes can follow suit remains to be seen. The loss finally brought to bear their three major problems — lack of a viable run game, propensity to give up big plays defensively, too many penalties — and left anyone who watched second-guessing the thought Ohio State is among this year’s elite.

“Isaiah Prince said some words to us, I’m not going to get into specifics, but similar to what Billy was saying last year,” said senior receiver Terry McLaurin, one of the team captains along with Prince. “When it’s coming from your O-linemen, that’s the heartbeat of our team.

“I just hope everybody was in there listening, and (thinking about) how we’re going to get better from this. … You can’t say everything goes good when we come back and beat Penn State (back on Sept.29), then we lose this and you’re like ‘Woe is me.’ You’ve got to take the good with the bad and look at how you can get better personally.”

Talk also can be cheap if the results don’t follow. But it was clear the Buckeyes picked up the slack after that loss at Iowa last year.

“There was just more seriousness that everybody took about it,” McLaurin said. “When you’re on a roll, it’s not like you feel like you can’t get touched, but you don’t know what that taste is like to lose. It almost makes you recalibrate, get your mind right, look yourself in the mirror — all of us men in the locker room — and see what you can do better.

“Not what the guy next to you can do, but what you do. And as a leader, that’s my job to make sure everybody feels that.”

Price, now with the Cincinnati Bengals, tweeted late Saturday night he thinks the adjustment can happen again.

The Buckeyes get this Saturday off before starting the stretch run Nov.3 against Nebraska in Ohio Stadium.

“As I said last year after the Iowa game: everything is still in front of the Buckeyes,” Price wrote. “Gotta get better and get after Sparty (Michigan State) and TTUN (Michigan).”

Grad assistant returns to town

Ohio State defensive graduate assistant coach Ken Anunike was released from a Lafayette, Indiana, hospital on Sunday morning, a team spokesman confirmed, after spending the night there due to an undisclosed medical condition following the Buckeyes’ loss.

Coach Urban Meyer, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and other members of the coaching and support staff visited with Anunike after he was put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance as the Buckeyes made the way to their buses 35 minutes after the game. Anunike was awake and alert.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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