Even if the level of competition has been lacking, those are all impressive numbers, especially for a team breaking in a new quarterback, new center and new left tackle. (Not to mention still missing its three-time national champion head coach, Urban Meyer, who returned to practice last week after a six-week suspension but can’t coach on game day until Sept. 22.)
Ryan Day, the acting head coach of the Buckeyes for one more game, wants more.
“When the games get tighter, every play matters even more,” Day said Monday. “So the mistakes are still there. We talked about that in the meeting yesterday. The mistakes are still there.
“Like for instance, the interception in the red zone two games ago, or a play with a false start or a sack on third down: Those plays in a big game are going to show up even more. They are still there and we have to correct them and that’s the sign of a mature group is you can win a big game, kind of like we have last two games, but then come to work and be critical of yourself and take the coaching so that we make the corrections to keep building.”
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And just how might the Buckeyes get better on offense?
“I don’t think there’s any one thing,” Day said. “I think it’s just when you watch the film, our execution level has got to be high every play. It’s got to be what we call 4 to 6, A to B, which is relentless effort every play. It can’t be just on four out of five plays. If we are very, very critical of ourselves, then we have a chance to be as good as we want to be.”
While that might sound like coachspeak (because it is), it can still be valid. Coaches, after all, are the ones who are paid to pick apart every aspect of every play in which 22 young men are carrying out various duties, sometimes more faithfully than others.
While players and fans are celebrating the miracle of birth, a.k.a. another long touchdown, coaches are sitting back analyzing the labor in hopes of making sure the process goes smoother the next time.
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Beyond refining the process, there is also the substance of the Ohio State offense.
In all likelihood, the Buckeyes have yet to show everything they can do because game situations haven’t drawn all out all of the bells and whistles attached to this year’s attack yet.
For example: What will they do when the chips are down on fourth-and-1 late in a close game?
Up to now, the answer during the Meyer era has typically been ram the quarterback into the line.
Will that still be the case with first-year starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who is not the same type of runner predecessors as J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller?
Teams are also bound to see how Ohio State is attacking, particularly with the intermediate passing game, and adjust.
Only time will tell how Ohio State will answer, but every game gives the Buckeyes another chance to grow.
“As you’re going along, sometimes the defense gives you looks, sometimes guys who haven’t played a lot of football are put into situations where they haven’t experienced that before,” Day said.
“Usually the first time that happens, they fail and then they learn from it. What makes good players great is when they do make a mistake, they can learn from it and it doesn’t happen again, but we still have a lot of first-time guys on the team, so they are learning as it goes.”