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Football: How Ohio State will deal with its first loss of the season

Ohio State players and Brutus Buckeye sing “Carmen” after the Buckeyes’ lost 31-16 to Oklahoma on Sept. 9. Credit: Nick Clarkson | Social Media Editor

Ohio State doesn’t experience many losses. In fact, Saturday’s decisive 31-16 romp suffered at the hands of No. 2 Oklahoma and quarterback Baker Mayfield was just the seventh loss in 69 games that Urban Meyer has endured since he became the Buckeyes’ head coach in 2012.

However, given his team’s high expectations and how devastating the defeats have been, such as last year’s losses to Penn State and Clemson, Meyer said he understands how teams mentally handle losses.

“You go from devastated to crushed, to pissed, and then you’ve got to move forward as a leader and get going,” Meyer said Monday afternoon. “So we’re somewhere between two and three right now, the pissed and the moving forward.”

Meyer said he had a meeting with his staff to motivate the coaches and help them move on from the loss. Meyer said he won’t be casting blame, calling it the “B” word, but admitted some players did not perform up to his expectations.

In the press conference after the game, the 17-year head coach said the offense played “bad” and as a whole, the team “didn’t play very well.” Then on Monday, he added the secondary also played poorly Saturday.

Many facets of Ohio State’s offense might change in the next few weeks. Meyer stressed that he and co-offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day will continue to “enhance” the offense and play-calling.

Luckily for Meyer and his team, the Buckeyes can take their time to make adjustments on both sides of the ball.

Ohio State doesn’t play a difficult schedule for the next month. The Buckeyes will host Army (2-0) Saturday at noon, UNLV (1-1) the following week before heading to New Jersey to battle the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0). The level of competition increases afterward as they play Maryland (2-0), Nebraska (1-1), Penn State (2-0) and Iowa (2-0) in the span of five weeks.

The coaches have time to tinker with an offense which has produced minimal production and a defense that has allowed an NCAA-worst 403 passing yards per game through the first two weeks of the season.

“We were challenged first half against Indiana, didn’t play very well and played very well in the second half,” Meyer said after the loss to Oklahoma. “This game we didn’t play very well. So we’ll go back at it and it’s a long, long season.”

The fact that this is just one early-season loss and Ohio State can recover is not lost on the players.

“This is a journey. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. This is Week 2. We’ve seen this before,” redshirt senior linebacker Chris Worley said after the loss. “I’ve seen this before here where early on in the season you may stumble. No one never wants to lose, but at the end of the day, it’s a good test early on to see where we’re at and where we need to go. There’s only two things we can do from here, crumble up or step up and man up and go get better.”

After the loss to Oklahoma, redshirt senior center Billy Price said the standard at Ohio State is to win every game, especially those played at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes will get a second chance at their first home win of the season when they kick off against Army Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

“As awful as we feel, no one’s really asking how we feel,” Meyer said. “We’ve got to move forward.”

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