Ohio State is a football program that demands excellence from all units. On the rare occasion the team loses a game, questions arise from the fan base and media members alike.
Maybe it was a lack of execution from the wide receivers. Maybe it was the relatively small amount of touches for junior H-back Curtis Samuel. Maybe the defense didn’t make the stops it needed to.
Regardless of the shortcomings of the Buckeyes against Penn State, one thing remains certain: A young team is still learning how to succeed at the collegiate level.
The offensive line received a large portion of the criticism this week, especially towards sophomore right tackle Isaiah Prince. Prince had arguably his worst game as a Buckeye, struggling to pick up the pass rush from the Nittany Lions and allowing free runs at redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Overall, OSU allowed 11 tackles for loss and six sacks, numbers that are way off from the team’s season averages in the respective categories. Veteran members of the line, including redshirt senior center Pat Elflein, have went through the feeling of losing before. Elflein said it is a feeling that is both difficult to go through and upsetting, but is a necessary stepping stone for OSU.
“Something you don’t want to feel, but you got to remember that feeling,” Elflein said. “That’s what has got to power you through, that feeling right there. You never want to feel that again.”
Price held his head high following the defeat, saying he was “numb” to the whole experience immediately after leaving the field.
On Monday, however, Price had an entirely different attitude. A normally upbeat and high-spirited character, the redshirt junior pulled no punches while talking to the media at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“There’s not a question of ability within our team,” he said. “We’ve got very, very, very talented guys in that room. And, again, you’ve got to focus on what we have and continue to develop and execute higher. That’s what it comes down to.”
Price also said he did not want to hear any talk singling out any one player, like the criticism of his teammate Prince. He said he too made mistake against the Nittany Lions, and it was up to the entire team to evaluate the loss and regroup.
OSU coach Urban Meyer was somber when he spoke to the media right after the game, but was not disheartened by the loss. On Monday, Meyer offered up his take on how the team can recover from the experience with some advice to his players.
“You lose a game, you’re not a loser. If you lose a game, you accept it,” Meyer said. “That’s the message to our players. We work so hard so that doesn’t happen. It happened; move on. Get ready for a very good team coming in here.”