Buckeyes Regrouping For USC

Most Ohio State fans probably did not keep a copy of the team's lackluster victory against Ohio University during the weekend. The Buckeyes themselves did, however, and the lessons learned from watching that film coupled with the feeling of disappointment stemming from the game might put OSU back on track this week heading into the USC game.

At Ohio State, each defensive player is taught to have a short memory – a very short one if possible.

One of the mottos preached to the Buckeye defenders is a reminder to let plays that have already happened stay in the past. As the coaches say, the next play is the most important one.

That same mentality could be applied to the OSU team as a whole after it struggled against a supposedly overmatched Ohio University team Saturday in Ohio Stadium. With the biggest non-conference game of the season looming on the near horizon, the Buckeyes by and large laid an egg and needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to avoid dropping their first game to an in-state foe since 1921.

The Buckeyes watched the film and, although doing so further highlighted the bad feelings that were evident in the postgame interview room, it gave them a new purpose of focusing on the forthcoming game against USC.

The next game is the most important one and will remain so until the final whistle blows.

"I think guys realize they didn't play to the best of their potential," senior linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "You watch the film and you learn from it. You see the things that you need to change and get better at. You switch your focus very fast.

"You've got to move on and think about the next one."

That is precisely what the Buckeyes are doing this week, but they are not doing so by simply forgetting that the game against the Bobcats took place. OSU reconvened on Sunday to break down the film and practiced Monday, working on what senior quarterback Todd Boeckman termed "little things."

Little things like having better execution, more focus and an overall better performance.

"We made way too many mistakes out there, and if we want to win this game against USC we've got to go out there and play great, not turn the ball over and be more efficient," he said. "We made too many mental mistakes in a lot of different situations where I didn't see the coverage or the blitz coming. Little things like that."

The blame for the game apparently is being spread evenly across the team. Senior wide receiver Brian Robiskie admitted that both he and fellow wideout Brian Hartline had a few uncharacteristic drops during the contest that hampered the offense's ability to get into a rhythm.

"I think first and foremost, we were disappointed like our teammates," he said. "We left some balls out there and had more drops than we have had in games in years past. Within our group, there were definitely some things we picked up on that we need to get fixed going into this week."

Echoing the refrain that was repeated following the game, Robiskie said he felt the Buckeyes were adequately focused on the task at hand and were not overlooking the Bobcats. The team captain said the timing simply was off between the wide receivers and their quarterback in Boeckman.

Defensively, the Buckeyes struggled to hold the Bobcats at bay in third down situations. Studying the game film helped hammer that point home, senior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said.

"We saw some good things, too," he said. "A lot of guys were flying to the ball. We had some good coverage in the back end. We made some plays and had five turnovers. We've just got to make some plays and get off the field on third downs and get the quarterback down."

To a man, each of the four captains admitted that the team was not happy with itself following the game and that the feeling continued throughout watching film.

That experience will only help to make the Buckeyes more focused on improving this week before heading out west to take on the Trojans.

"We definitely didn't play our best," Jenkins said. "I was kind of happy on Sunday when I got to watch the film because I would much rather come into this week not having played as well the week before so we would have something to look at on the film.

"We have goals to get better and know exactly what we need to work on going into a big game as opposed to blowing a team out and coming in on cloud nine coming into a big game and not knowing what our weaknesses are. At least we have a stepping stone to improve."


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