He might only be a redshirt freshman, but tailback Dan Herron has already mastered the art of speaking like head coach Jim Tressel is standing over his shoulder.
After earning his first career start in Ohio State's loss to USC, Herron finished the evening with 11 carries for a game-high 51 rushing yards. Of OSU's 207 yards of total offense, however, just 30 of them came in the second half.
Accordingly, the Buckeyes got away from the running attack as they tried to get back into the game. In addition, freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor added 11 carries and other running backs Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine saw some time in the backfield as well.
It all added up to a situation where Herron found himself struggling to get into a groove. Good luck getting him to admit it, though.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "I had to stay in a groove. It was a big game, so I had to be in a groove."
Establishing himself as the go-to guy in high school was no problem, Herron said, but things are different at the collegiate level. The luxury is not always there of having a series or two to get into the groove of a game.
"You have to make the best of it in college," he said. "Some people have to have a bunch of carries to get in a groove. You can come in the first play of the game and break something for a touchdown and that will get you into a groove."
Asked whether or not he managed to get into a groove against the Trojans, Herron simply replied, "You'll have to ask the coaches. I don't know."
Not Buying It: Now in his second year as Ohio State's starting right guard, things have not gone quite according to plan for Ben Person.
The senior from Xenia, Ohio, has by and large looked shaky for his play this season punctuated by a holding call against USC that negated a touchdown in what would eventually become a 35-3 loss.
But to hear Person's side of the story, holding was not the correct call. Asked if he had gotten to review the film of the play in question to verify the accuracy of the call, a smile creased across Person's face before he composed himself and answered.
"I still don't think I held the guy," he said. "I can see why he could call it. Usually if there's a defensive linemen and we're in pass protect and he goes to the ground they're going to call holding. He made a move to the outside and you could see on the film that his foot slipped and he just falls. He fell to the ground and from their position, I could see where it looked like holding but I still don't think it was."
Still Big Goals: Although the loss to the Trojans has all but extinguished OSU's hopes for a third consecutive appearance in the national championship game, it has not ruined some of the goals the team set before the season began.
The Buckeyes have a chance to win a third consecutive outright Big Ten title, the achievement of which would likely see them end their season back where it took an abrupt turn: The Los Angeles Coliseum, site of the Rose Bowl.
That fact was clearly not lost on head coach Jim Tressel, who reminded his players of that fact immediately after the loss.
"Following the loss when we were in the locker room, Coach Tress was telling us that this is where we need to be back at the end of the season, referring to the Rose Bowl," junior safety Kurt Coleman said. "We have a lot to play for this season and we all know that and we're focused."
However, not every player was completely aware of all the details about what is left to play for this year.
"There's still a lot of things that we can accomplish," senior captain and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. "We can be the first team to win I forget how many big ten championships in a row. The season isn't over."
Still Getting Settled: With the return of Donald Washington and Jamario O'Neal from their two-game suspensions, the OSU secondary finds itself with more depth than it had available when the season began.
The question now is how to get it all on the field. Washington saw some playing time against USC but saw sophomore Chimdi Chekwa earn his third consecutive start in the position that was Washington's for all 13 games last season.
Those two will continue to battle for the role, but the possibility exists that both could find themselves on the field at the same time when the Buckeyes go to their nickel defense.
"That situation we're still kind of working out," OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said. "I'm not sure exactly how we're going to do it because at times Donald does come on the field and at other times Jermale Hines comes on the field so we're still shuffling some guys in that spot. You've got a mix of really good athletes that you can get on the field and that's a good problem to have."
In other words, stay tuned for the answer.
One player officially no longer in the mix is James Scott, a sophomore who has now transferred to Mississippi.
"From all the great things that happen, there are a lot of players that you have the ones that you lose are the ones that you really never forget," Johnson said. "James is a really good young man. We actually just texted each other the other day, so I expect to keep in contact with him. Sometimes change is good and that's how we approach it."
Not All Work: In the aftermath of the loss, senior left tackle Alex Boone voiced his intentions to get home and get right back to work by watching film and working out at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
While he has not been made available to the media this week, senior captain and linebacker James Laurinaitis did not take Boone's suggestion upon arriving in Columbus at 7:10 a.m. Sunday morning.
"We went home and slept," Laurinaitis said. "I didn't manage to sleep on the whole plane ride home. For three hours and 45 minutes I was just sitting there either watching the movie on or just hanging out, but I can't sleep on planes."
The in-flight entertainment must not have been very stimulating, however. Laurinaitis said he could not remember what movie was playing during the flight.
He Did What, Exactly? Trying to figure out the status of injured tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells has been a tough chore for anyone not a member of the OSU football team, as this exchange with OSU tight ends coach John Peterson shows.
As the lone offensive coach permitted to speak with the media this week, Peterson found himself as the official spokesman for each offensive unit.
Did Beanie practice today?
"I saw him sweating, but I was sweating a little bit too," he said. "I know he was working today."
Was he wearing a uniform when he was sweating?
"You know what? I did see shoulder pads on him," Peterson said.
Was he sweating with a boot on his foot?
"I think Steve Rehring was that guy," he said. "He's hanging in there. He's a tough kid. He's getting better."
Interpret that as you will.