Still smarting from Oregon loss, 'hungry' Ohio State vows to improve, detail by detail
For the first time since 2018, Ohio State’s players must prepare for a game after losing one.
The Buckeyes’ only losses the last two years have come in the College Football Playoff, ending their season. Now they must regroup after a 35-28 loss to Oregon.
It may be unfamiliar territory for most Buckeye players, but a couple of veterans said Wednesday the team is responding well as it prepares for Saturday’s game against Tulsa.
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“We haven’t had a better practice than today all year, offensively,” junior wide receiver Garrett Wilson said. “They’re trying to learn new things on the defensive side, so that comes with a learning curve. But the energy and just the attention to detail the last two days, I feel it hasn't been like that since camp started.”
On Tuesday, coach Ryan Day promised defensive changes but didn't share specifics. The same with Wilson.
"They've got some new things they're working on, and I'll leave it at that," he said.
Oregon exploited Ohio State’s defensive breakdowns for 505 yards and five touchdowns, with the Buckeyes showing little resistance on some of the scores.
Ohio State’s offense generated 612 yards of offense but scored only once in the first half and came up empty on two late drives that could have tied the game. The Buckeyes gained only 128 yards in their run game.
“We knew we had some problems,” Wilson said. “But whenever you lose, it magnifies them all. So there's no room for messing up at practice anymore. If there was before, there's none at all now.”
Left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere praised the energy he felt at practice.
"We're hungry," he said. "This is a learning experience for a lot of us because it hasn't happened in a while here."
Petit-Frere said the focus has been on details, even seemingly minuscule ones.
“Details (about) things that you wouldn't even think about -- how we stretch, the way we walk into a practice, the way we walk into a huddle, the way we do anything,” he said. “All those small little details are things that we've done for so many years. That's why we've won. And when you lose track of some of the small details, things like this can happen so we're getting back to the basics.”
Ohio State did not make defensive players available during interviews Wednesday, but Petit-Frere said they were spirited in practice.
“We had a lot of great energy today throughout almost the entirety of practice,” he said. “The offense was going at the defense. The defense was going at the offense. It was just a great competition day that made each of us better and made us learn. If someone did this type of move, OK, how would I counteract that?”
One loss doesn’t doom a season. Another would, at least in terms of a national championship. If the Buckeyes rebound, the Oregon loss might be viewed similarly to the one to Virginia Tech in 2014 that served as a springboard to a national title.
According to Wilson, it’s too soon to consider the Oregon loss as a potential blessing in disguise.
“I hate losing, so it's not a blessing to me ever,” he said. “I just hate talking about it. I hate losing. You've got to use it, though. You can't just have it as a loss and not use it to get better. You realize what the problems are and really address them now.”