If you were watching the Buckeyes’ 24-6 loss to Miami at your home, no one would fault you for shouting expletives, throwing things at your TV, or simply changing the channel. Similarly, if you made the trip down to Miami for the game, you had every right to leave your seat and walk out of Sun Life Stadium before the final whistle.
We all watched the same game, and it wasn’t pretty. Despite the agony that Saturday’s loss held for members of Buckeye Nation, it’s still too early to jump off the OSU bandwagon.
The reason you should bunker down with the Buckeyes is simple: they can still win the Leaders Division and the Big Ten.
Several members of the team, including junior defensive lineman John Simon, said as much after the loss.
“We’re only going to get better from here,” Simon said. “We can still accomplish our goals. We can still be Big Ten champs.”
To those who remain disheartened by OSU’s first loss of the season, the idea of challenging in the Leaders Division may seem farfetched. However, the fact remains that it was a non-conference loss, albeit one that damaged our collective ego.
The team needs to take a methodical approach to dissecting its weaknesses through week three of this season, and first-year head coach Luke Fickell said the team would do just that.
“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions,” Fickell said. “I think we really have to do a great job at sitting down and trying to figure out how we need to move forward and where our focus is going to be.
“There’s a lot of areas where we know we need to go back and take a real hard look at.”
There’s a case to be made that Fickell has already improved parts of his team through its first three games, namely the special teams unit.
Sophomore kicker Drew Basil entered the Miami game 0-for-2 on field goal attempts, but nailed two field goal attempts against the Hurricanes.
One week after having a punt blocked by Toledo, redshirt junior punter Ben Buchanan kept the Buckeyes competitive against Miami as he averaged 46.5 yards on six punts. Buchanan also blasted a career-long 60-yard punt and pinned the ‘Canes inside their own 20-yard line three times.
If special teams’ play improved that much in just a matter of days, who is to say Fickell can’t implement immediate improvements to other areas of his team?
Also, don’t forget that DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas will return from suspension in time for OSU’s final seven Big Ten games.
It’s a long season, and I don’t know about you, but my calendar still reads “September.” There’s just too much football left to play in 2011, so dust yourself off, tape up your bruises and hop back on the bandwagon.
You might still be in for a wild ride by when Big Ten conference play begins.