Ohio State's new wide receivers coach acknowledged the film room was not a fun place to be after the receivers struggled during a 24-6 loss at Miami (Fla.), but he was upbeat in the week of practice that followed.
With senior DeVier Posey suspended until Nov. 8 and sophomore Philly Brown temporarily sidelined by a sprained ankle, Drayton is down to a sophomore (Chris Fields), a redshirt freshman (Verlon Reed) and two true freshmen (Devin Smith and Evan Spencer) with which to work.
All have shown flashes of ability, but none are close to a finished product.
"We've just got to get out there and execute better," Drayton said. "It's not a question of effort, it's not a question of toughness. We're still growing. My guys are a young group, but they are not using it as an excuse and we as coaches are not using it as an excuse. It's just a great opportunity to get out there and learn, to get some great game experience for the first time. We have to learn to execute in that type of environment. We have to learn from that opportunity."
While he was sorry to see them come in a loss, Drayton said the game produced some good lessons to use moving forward.
"It's a great opportunity to grab them in the heat of the moment and say, ‘Hey, this is what you need to do better. This is what you need to do next time,' " he said.
Among the lessons from the game are playing faster and adjusting to changes in coverage as they happen, even when they are not what they saw in the film room during the week.
"When guys are still learning coverages and then they see different variations of them, it slows them down a little bit," Drayton said. "We didn't make a bunch of mistakes. It was a matter of when the opportunity came, did you make a play? Either you execute it or you don't. As a result, I think we had a little bit more lack of execution than we should have."
Bringing Up Braxton
Drayton's double duty - dealing with the wide receivers and quarterbacks on the sideline - is a matter of practicality.
"We're all speaking the same language. The information the quarterbacks need is the same information the receivers need," Drayton explained.
Quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano is in the booth upstairs with offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, so anything that needs to be communicated to freshman Braxton Miller goes through Drayton.
"Braxton knows that I've talked to (Siciliano) before he gets off that football field, so he's waiting to hear what he needs to hear," Drayton said with a chuckle.
While Drayton works with Miller on the sideline, some of the older players acknowledged helping to bring him along when he is in the huddle.
"He has looked frazzled at times, but I wouldn't say that's a bad thing just because he is trying to get everything right," fullback Zach Boren said. "He has gone out there and put in an effort to make sure everything is called right and everything and he gets the right message across. When he is frazzled, that's when the older guys step in. I have stepped in and just helped him out. After someone helps him out, he's completely fine and can just think about his job."
Drayton has seen Miller, who is generally laid back in the interview room, show some emotion on the sideline, and the coach has no problem with that.
"Being young, when it doesn't quite go in his favor, you see it. He wears it on his sleeve," Drayton said. "I don't know too many athletes I've coached in the past that if the game meant that much to them you didn't see that. Now, what do you do after the fact? Can you control it? Can you channel that energy, that emotion to go out and do something positive on the football field? That's the thing our whole team and these coaches need to be successful."
Backup Fullback Switcheroo
While the move to starting Miller at quarterback will get much more attention, it is not the only change coming up this weekend. Adam Homan underwent knee surgery this past week and is out indefinitely, opening up a spot on special teams.
The junior might also be missed in short-yardage situations when the Buckeyes preferred set includes him along with starter Boren and two tight ends.
Stepping into the void figures to be David Durham, a redshirt freshman who moved to fullback from the defensive line during spring practice.
"He is a hard worker and he is going to come out and compete every day and he is not afraid to go out there and hit someone in the mouth," Boren said of Durham. "What he needs to work on is the mental part of the game. Learn what he is seeing back there looking at the defense and just being able to come out and be able to run different plays with different formations."
No Laughing Matter
Among the many things that upset Ohio State fans during the loss to Miami was a shot of then-starting quarterback Joe Bauserman smiling on the sideline in the fourth quarter.
Though head coach Luke Fickell said he had not seen the clip, he was made aware of it. He sounded less than pleased.
"I haven't talked to Joe. I know Joe hurts every bit as bad as I do," Fickell said Tuesday at the lectern for his weekly press luncheon. "Just like me up here, I smile and I show that I'm happy and everything's going great when my stomach down inside is sometimes in a knot.
"That's not something you want to see. Whether he was disguising or masking how his gut felt, I have confidence that Joe hurts every bit as much as I hurt. We try and tell those guys, nothing goes unnoticed whether it's on the sidelines of a game, whether it's in a classroom, wherever you are having something to eat. Just make sure you understand that, but I haven't noticed anything that would tell me that Joe isn't 100 percent with us."
Bauserman was not made available for interviews during the week, but fellow senior J.B. Shugarts, the Buckeyes' starting right tackle, came to his defense.
"I heard about that. Joe is not that type of person where he'd be laughing," Shugarts said. "He was probably talking about some play or something that happened, but he's not like people are trying to talk about like he was laughing and stuff. He's not that type of person or a player."