After taking a step forward with a Week-4 win over Western Michigan, the Buckeyes stagnated in a 34-27 win over Indiana to open Big Ten play Saturday.
There were bright spots -- Ezekiel Elliott's 274-yard, three touchdown day comes to mind -- but Ohio State struggled with turnovers and allowed an injury-riddled Hoosier team to hang around until the clock hit zero. Here is what the players and coaches had to say after moving to 5-0.
On the play of the passing game against the Hoosiers:
"(We were) 18-of-27 for 245 yards. That's not awful. I saw what you saw. There's some balls that guys were open. One was an option route, I don't want to get into it, we just have to work at it. Once again, 18-of-27 for 245 yards. We're getting better. Last week we threw for 288 yards, so we're continuing to get better. You take the three turnovers out and that's a solid performance by the Buckeyes. I didn't say great, but solid performance by the Buckeyes."
On the Buckeyes -- who have 13 turnovers through five games -- difficulties hanging on to the ball this season:
"The turnovers has to change right now. I mean right now. There's a couple of ways to do it. Just keep coaching, emphasizing what we do, and second, if the guy is laying on the ground, you just can't play him. We actually started last year (with the turnovers) near the end of the season. We always used to be near the tops in turnovers because we emphasize the heck out of it. We practice it. The entire practice we have guys hitting them so they put the ball away. It's just the emphasis, and the players that touch the ball, they have to make sure it's tight."
QB Cardale Jones
On turnover issues:
“I don’t know. We got to get it fixed though. We can’t expect to win ballgames like that, especially playing a great team like Indiana. Thank god for our defense and the way they played lights out. I think we had three turnovers to their none and we still found a way to come out with a ‘W’, but we can’t expect that each week.”
On his thoughts during Indiana's final drive:
“I just have faith in our defense. And then if Indiana had scored a touchdown then I would have got ready for overtime and continue to play a football game.”
Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell
On if the close win felt like a loss:
“I mean we won, and we’ve all grown past some of those situations. I know I have and I know coach (Meyer) has too. You walk out of here with a win and you’re going to feel good. Whether it was 10-nothing or 42-whatever, we’ll go back and find ways to nitpick and find ways that we are going to get better and we’ve got to be playing our best ball at the end of the season. We’re going to celebrate and make sure we understand that this is a big win for us and we have to find ways to get better.”
LB Raekwon McMillan
On the way Indiana played:
“Yeah they’re definitely a good team, they gave us they’re best shot and they’re one of the best teams that we’ve played so far. They came out and played with intensity and never let their hair down when we got up.”
G Pat Elflein
On the struggles of the offense this season:
"We just have to execute as a whole offense. There are different spurts where there will be different units that are playing pretty good. We just have to do it all together at the same time. I think that’s what the problem is. We’ll get it fixed. I’m not worried about it. We’ll get it fixed."
DE Tyquan Lewis
On if the game was too-close for comfort:
“I just take the win any way you can. We could’ve stopped them a little sooner, but like I said I got faith in the DBs and everybody in the back end.”
On his performance which included one sack and 3.5 tackles for loss:
“I just played my keys and I just go make a play when it’s presented to me. I mean, I wouldn’t run to (defensive end Joey Bosa) either.
“Not really. I just go out and I just play hard for everyone next to me. I’m just appreciative for every moment I get. Every opportunity that presents itself I just thank God for it.”
S Vonn Bell
On the play of Lewis:
"He just wanted to make plays and provide that energy, have that motor and just keep on going. I told him, ‘Just keep playing your butt off. It’s going to pay off in the end.'"
LT Taylor Decker
On Elliott's explosive runs:
"I think coming into this game we kind of wanted to get some stuff like that going. We’re used to having those big hits and big plays, and we hadn’t really done a lot this year. That was a big momentum shift for us, and I think it gave us confidence in our ability to execute. If we get him to the second level, he’s going to make guys miss and score."
RB Ezekiel Elliott
On the fourth-and-1 play call that resulted in a 65-yard touchdown:
"I don’t think the call was very surprising. Coach Meyer is very aggressive on fourth down and if he feels like we have a chance to get it, we’re going to go for it. It was a great call and a great scheme by the offense. The O-line blocked it perfectly and I really didn’t have to do much but outrun the DBs to score."
WR Mike Thomas
On his 23-yard touchdown reception:
"I was hungry. Corey Smith had just went down with the injury. That's my brother, and I got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play. I just felt like he had done so much for the team, he was starting on all the special teams units, I felt like I had to make a play. When I got in the end zone, I felt like I made him proud. I don't even know how to describe it. I jut felt for him that I needed to do that."