Buck­eyes not wor­ried af­ter first loss

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Mitch Stacy

COLUM­BUS, OHIO >> If there is panic and un­rest in the Ohio State camp af­ter Satur­day’s up­set loss to Penn State, no­body was dis­play­ing it Mon­day.

Coach Ur­ban Meyer said he doesn’t fore­see any ma­jor per­son­nel changes or ad­just­ments in play call­ing. Quar­ter­back J.T. Bar­rett said he’s not par­tic­u­larly wor­ried about the pass­ing game, which strug­gled in the 24-21 loss at Happy Val­ley. The mes­sage: What­ever prob­lems there were can be fixed, and all of Ohio State’s goals are still at­tain­able.

“The sun came up,” guard Billy Price said. “We’ve been here be­fore. (Los­ing) isn’t an oc­cur­rence that happens of­ten, but we grow from this, we get tighter to­gether and we fo­cus in on us, and we don’t worry about any­thing else. Be­cause every­body is a couch coach. Every­body thinks they have the whis­tle, but we need to fo­cus in on who we are.”

Maybe there’s no panic, but there is plenty to be con­cerned about af­ter Ohio State (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) dropped from No. 2 to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 poll as the re­sult of the loss, which was only the fifth of the Ur­ban Meyer era.

Re­ceivers strug­gled to sep­a­rate from de­fend­ers, and Bar­rett ran for his life much of the time from pass rush­ers his of­fen­sive line strug­gled to block. Bar­rett was sacked six times, in­clud­ing twice on the final drive to end the game. The run game bogged down, av­er­ag­ing fewer than 5 yards per carry. A blocked Ohio State field goal at­tempt led to a Penn State touch­down. Ohio State had a punt blocked, too.

The sta­tis­tics don’t look bad — 413 yards of to­tal of­fense — but the ver­ti­cal pass­ing game was kept mostly in check by un­ranked Penn State. Bar­rett’s long­est com­ple­tion was 34 yards, un­der­scor­ing that the Buck­eyes con­tinue to strug­gle hit­ting the deep passes. The 168 yards rush­ing in­cluded a sin­gle 74-yard touch­down run by Cur­tis Samuel in the third quar­ter.

“It’s hard to put it on one thing,” Meyer said. “It’s a mul­ti­tude of things. It has re­gressed a lit­tle bit. Cer­tainly where there were plays to be made. We hook up on a cou­ple of those plays, we win the game and we’re fine.”

Bar­rett ac­knowl­edged that the pass­ing game needs to be bet­ter, but said, “I’m at a good place.” Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and tim­ing could be bet­ter, he said, but he saw noth­ing on video Sun­day that really alarmed him. He said the myr­iad of­fen­sive mis­takes were “out of char­ac­ter.”

“It was a lot of lit­tle things that in games like that be­come big things when ex­ploited,” he said. “That’s what we saw on film, things that can be cor­rected, and it wasn’t any­thing game plan-wise that we weren’t ready for. We just didn’t ex­e­cute, and it showed.

Ohio State re­turns home Satur­day to play North­west­ern (4-3, 3-1), which has won four out of five af­ter play­ing poorly early in the sea­son.

The fol­low­ing week, the Buck­eyes will play No. 7 Ne­braska, which will be com­ing in ei­ther un­de­feated or fresh off a loss to Wis­con­sin. If the Buck­eyes can win out, beat a likely un­de­feated Michi­gan on Nov. 26 and win the Big Ten Cham­pi­onship, last Satur­day’s stumble will be a dis­tant mem­ory.

“We’re go­ing to find out what we’re made of,” Bar­rett said.

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