COLUMBUS, Ohio — Odds are, there was always going to be a fourth-quarter dance party for Ohio State.
If the Buckeyes had wanted to, they probably could have even worked out some choreography ahead of their visit to Rutgers last weekend based on the dramatic talent differential. Maybe that would have actually helped, since the salsa moves Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper were doing didn’t really mesh that well with the Ed Sheeran music blaring in the stadium.
Ohio State, of course, earned the opportunity to cut loose a little late in the evening in New Jersey with a 56-0 lead and a victory well in hand. While one end of the bench was busy dancing, the other was cracking jokes and giving some gloves to kids in the front row of the stands.
In between, though, is where the coaching staff was straddling the line between enjoying a blowout and keeping the focus on the closing minutes of the game. And as Kerry Coombs barked to his defensive backs to preserve a shutout both on the scoreboard and as a unit that hadn’t allowed a receiver to make a single catch, it seemed clear that Ohio State has found the right formula to balance a stretch that could have instead been marred by boredom.
“You know, I think the coaching is more … it’s almost cheerleading at some point when you’re playing a noon game against a lesser team,” coach Urban Meyer said. “It’s unique. Sometimes we don’t even show videotape as we’re getting ready to play a team and to make it about something else other than the game.
“The good thing about last week was that our players saw what [Rutgers] did to Washington, since almost every time as a coach you hope to see [good] stuff on videotape. Because there’s a bunch of smart guys in here — smarter than coaches, because they know exactly who they’re getting ready to go play.”
For the record, that was a Big Ten opponent last week, which certainly helped. And the Scarlet Knights had been competitive against a respected Washington team early in the season, which also might have helped narrow the focus.
But Rutgers also lost to Eastern Michigan and was decimated by the Buckeyes a year ago, which could have potentially made it a challenge to get up for a matchup on the road at a stadium that was never close to being filled to capacity. And it was coming on the heels of two consecutive lopsided wins for Ohio State as well, including one against a UNLV team that already had lost to an FCS opponent.
There even could be a temptation for Ohio State to look at this week as just the halfway point in a stretch where it’s just killing time until Penn State rolls into the Horseshoe at the end of the month. Maryland is on its third-string quarterback, Nebraska has had significant struggles early in the season and both programs were easily crushed by the Buckeyes a year ago — and an actual bye week is waiting after that.
But if Ohio State is struggling to pay attention to the details right now, it’s not showing. Either way, Meyer isn’t planning on needing to run across the field before pregame warmups as he did prior to the UNLV game to add a little extra juice. Maryland’s wins at Texas and Minnesota have shown it is more than capable of providing a better test for the Buckeyes, and that surely will be a consistent message on the practice field and in the film room this week.
And truthfully, Ohio State has been focusing enough on fixing its own issues. It might not have made any difference who the opponents have been anyway.
“The good thing about this team and coaching staff, you’re not walking around with blinders on,” Meyer said. “We know exactly [what’s going on]. We’re optimistic and we’re pleased with the progress, but we’re also realistic. Where are we? I think we’ve improved, like anybody can see we improved. When it comes time, this week, can we continue against good, very good competition?
“Going against a better team like Maryland, that’s a very good team. That’s the next step.”
The Buckeyes are again huge favorites (32-point ones as of Monday afternoon), so there might be some time for a few dance steps.
But the only way to bust a fourth-quarter move is to avoid complacency before then, and that doesn’t seem to be an issue right now for Ohio State.
The post Ohio State focusing on the details — and a little bit of dancing appeared first on Land of 10.