Ohio State football: No lack of motivation for Buckeyes

Indiana up next after bye week

COLUMBUS -- With no opponent last week, self-motivation was important for members of the Ohio State football team.

The Buckeyes could not go out and compete against anyone else, so they had to measure themselves against themselves instead.

The time off also helped players such as Haskell Garrett heal up and study up.

“There’s now film out there on yourself and you’re able to watch yourself play,” the senior defensive tackle said. “Usually you’re so busy watching other teams you never watch yourself and understand how other teams are game-planning for you and those around you.”

The 2020 first-team All-American left the Buckeyes’ win over Maryland two weeks ago with an apparent injury he termed an accumulation of multiple bumps and bruises from throughout the first half of the season, but Garrett declared himself good to go this week against Indiana.

“I got my rest, but I could also make my corrections, watch film and look at stuff that other teams are looking at to improve my game,” he said.

He’s also embraced a leadership role this season and was one of the players to stress the importance of practicing better after a lackluster start to the season.

“We all kind of just came together and understood that the way we were playing wasn’t up to par, wasn’t up to the standard,” Garrett said. “So we all stood up and promised each other that we would play our best game.”

Head coach Ryan Day has said repeatedly that’s an effort that must start during the week in practice.

“What we’ve really focused on for the last four or five weeks is that if you do it in practice, if you do it on a Tuesday and a Wednesday really well, then you can have great confidence going into the week,” Day said.

“It’s like going into a test and having the answers to the test. If you’re unprepared for a test, boy that’s a bad feeling, but that’s the one way for us to build confidence and the psychology of it all.”

Leaders such as Garrett gave the impression that message has sunk in.

The 35-28 Week 2 loss to Oregon was jolting, but the 45-31 win over Minnesota to open the season was not all that satisfying. Neither was a 41-20 win over Tulsa in the third week of the season.

That led to some changes in strategy on both sides of the ball and some personnel changes on defense, but it also caused the Buckeyes to narrow their focus.

“Small goals like holding a team to 100 yards rushing, winning down and distance, winning field position and stuff like that,” Garrett said. “Setting small goals for every game so guys know how they need to be playing and what standard they need to play at.”

Coming a week before a big home showdown with Penn State under the lights at Ohio Stadium, the trip to Indiana has some letdown potential.

Day said the Buckeyes can avoid that by remembering they still have a long way to go to reach their potential.

“In terms of week in and week out, we know here we’re gonna get everybody’s best shot,” Day said. “We have to bring it.”

Regardless of the opponent, any week is another opportunity to improve — work that he hopes will pay off as the season goes on.

“The first thing we have to do is go back to fundamentals,” Day said. “We should take care of the football. Tackling. Keeping our hands inside in blocking and being smart, disciplined. Understanding especially early in the game field position football, playing well in the red zone, all those types of things are critically important because the only time we get ourselves out of whack is when those things don’t go well. And if we continue to work on playing really hard, playing really tough and those things right there, the fundamentals of the game, then you feel like you’ve got a chance.”


Ohio State at Indiana, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

About the Author