Fox was on the firing line as San Diego State came into Ohio Stadium and fired 41 passes in OSU's all-too-narrow 16-13 win. Fox ended up as OSU's leading tackler with nine stops, including eight solos. Several of those were touchdown-saving stops as SDSU succeeded in spreading the OSU defense at various points in the game.
"We can play better than that, offensively and defensively, all around," Fox said. "We just keep a positive outlook that we can come back and play better. Hopefully, next week we can cut down on the mistakes and play against a pretty good N.C. State team.
"That's what we're used to. Teams just pass the ball these days. We play these nonconference opponents who come in here and just want to throw the ball. It's something you have to prepare for and take as a challenge. It's exciting."
With starting quarterback Adam Hall out with an injury, SDSU sophomore Matt Dlugolecki made his first career start. He stood in under heavy pressure and completed 23 of 39 passes for 189 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, one of which OSU's Will Allen returned 100 yards for his team's only touchdown.
The Aztecs kept the Buckeyes off-balance at times with an array of inside screens, draw plays and quick passes.
"They did a good job of running some screens," Fox said. "They mixed that up with some draws that hurt us a little bit. They played well. But as a defense, we did some good things. We won the turnover battle. We had some stupid penalties here and there that hurt us."
The game came down to SDSU's last possession, which ended on downs after a Dlugolecki incompletion at the OSU 46-yard line with 2:49 left. Another completion or two and the Buckeyes could have been looking at overtime -- or worse.
"I don't think any of our guys were tense or thought we were going to lose," Fox said. "Everyone seemed pretty positive and upbeat on the sidelines. Everybody was like, `We've been here before. Let's play with some poise and play our game.'
"On any Saturday anybody can play with anybody. They are a good football team and they have some athletes who want to compete. But you have to prepare for that every week."
After the OSU defense led the Buckeyes to a national championship a year ago, many believed the unit would struggle without All-Americans Mike Doss and Matt Wilhelm. But through two weeks, the Buckeyes have held two decent offenses to averages of 12.5 points and 239 yards.
"Whenever you lose guys, you have to replace them," Fox said. "It showed today that defense can be a strong part of our team. That is encouraging."
Fox admitted that the Buckeyes' sluggish showing may have been a letdown after an emotional opening night win over Washington.
"I knew it was going to be different," he said. "A lot of guys didn't adjust. Last week was a night game and it was crazy. It's tough because we had the night game first. It might have been different if we had the day game first. The atmosphere is different and your body feels different. It's something we have to adjust to."
Fox goes against OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel in practice quite a bit. He noted that Krenzel's 5-of-20 showing was an aberration.
"Craig is very consistent," Fox said. "I don't know. He's human. Everybody has tough days. It doesn't matter. We have to play well as a team. There are days when the defense doesn't play well and the offense picks us up. That's what it takes to have a successful program."
However, Fox did not blame his team's showing on the ongoing Maurice Clarett saga.
"I don't think it's a distraction or hurting us," he said. "I think it's something we have to deal with. It's a topic that is ongoing. We can't let that take away from our focus."