Buckeyes look to erase their errors

Published 1:49 am Wednesday, September 10, 2014

COLUMBUS (AP) — Urban Meyer isn’t happy.

And when Ohio State’s head coach isn’t happy, let’s just say it follows that his staff and players shouldn’t get too comfortable.

This is not a good week to be a Buckeye football player.

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The whole team is scrambling to patch a lot of problems in the wake of a stunning 35-21 defeat to Virginia Tech on Saturday night.

There were loads of mistakes by a young offense, including a line that features four new starters and freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett.

But a newly built, more aggressive defense with a veteran front line was supposed to be one of this team’s strengths, ranked fifth in the preseason. Instead, it continually gave up big plays with the outcome still up for grabs.

“Are we discouraged about the game Saturday? Absolutely. Could we have played better in a couple of situations to make a difference? Absolutely,” said new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash. “But do we still have a chance to be outstanding? I believe so and we all think so. It’s just the little things.”

The little things turned into very, very big things before a record crowd of 107,517 fans at Ohio Stadium.

The defense surrendered just 320 yards, but it was more a matter of when the Hokies got them. They converted their first five third-down plays and finished nine of 17 in total.

As a result, Virginia Tech led 21-7 at the half, needing just over a minute to go up by two scores just before the break.

“Average,” was how Meyer assessed his defense, which returns most of the linemen and two starting linebackers.

On this night, average didn’t cut it.

“I want to get to the point at Ohio State where it’s shutdown, lockdown defense,” Meyer said.

“We can make that happen as we continue to grow this year. There is still some new blood out there playing (but) there were far too many mental mistakes.”

After Ohio State regrouped at the half and played very well for a quarter and a half, both the offense and defense came up short again.

The Buckeyes pulled even at 21 early in the fourth quarter. But the defense couldn’t follow with a key stop.

Instead, the Hokies needed just six plays to cover 65 yards to take the lead for good. A late interception return just added to the misery.

“We just had some mental errors,” said safety Tyvis Powell. “I guess people just got caught up in the moment and we made errors and they cost us.”

Ohio State’s defense had been exposed in losses in the Big Ten title game and Orange Bowl to end last season. So Meyer brought in Ash to redesign a more aggressive yet simpler approach.

Through two games, with opponents averaging 26 points, 246 yards rushing and 355 yards of total offense, it’s hard to make a case that there’s been improvement.

Both Ash and Meyer said the Hokies surprised them with their offensive calls. Both said there were problems adjusting.

Heading into Saturday’s game against decided underdog Kent State, the architect of Ohio State’s defense is confident the Buckeyes will figure out who they are and how they’ll play.

“We’ll get it fixed,” Ash said.


Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP