Joe Podelco / Lantern photographer
After Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Michigan State, Ohio State football fans might point to the defense as something the Buckeyes can hang their hat on. OSU coaches and players don’t share that outlook, though.
“It all comes down to outplaying the other team’s defense and we didn’t outplay their defense,” first-year OSU head coach Luke Fickell said. “We win and lose as a team. That’s what we always tell our kids.”
Fifth-year senior defensive back Tyler Moeller agreed.
“Obviously we didn’t (play well enough),” Moeller said. “We lost.”
Senior linebacker Andrew Sweat was also in agreement.
“You want to hold their offense less than our offense and we didn’t do that today,” Sweat said. “So, yeah, we failed.”
After surrendering a touchdown pass on MSU’s second drive of the game, the defense held the Spartans to three points for the remainder of the game.
Fickell said the defense didn’t get enough pressure on MSU senior quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“They ended up with nine sacks and we ended up with zero,” Fickell said. “We got a few more turnovers, but all in all it doesn’t come our in our favor.”
OSU won the turnover battle, forcing three turnovers and surrendering one.
Moeller was proud of the team’s ability to get the ball back to the offense.
“C.J. (Barnett) had a great catch in the end zone and (Bradley) Roby had a great interception,” Moeller said. “Overall we did a good job of getting some turnovers today in crucial situations.”
Sophomore defensive back C.J. Barnett’s circus interception in the back of the end zone ended MSU’s scoring threat early in the fourth quarter and kept it a one-possession game, but the offense couldn’t capitalize.
Sweat said the defense was trying to get a score of their own.
“You wanna create turnovers and you wanna get a defensive score,” he said. “But in the end, we didn’t.”
The defense came close late in the first half when sophomore defensive back Christian Bryant dropped a would-be interception that likely would have been returned for a touchdown.
Freshman defensive back Bradley Roby, who had an interception with less than five minutes left in the game, talked about the frustration of allowing just 10 points to a ranked team and coming away with a loss.
“On defense, we struggled a little bit, but the majority of the time we got three and outs,” Roby said. “They scored early but they didn’t really score again until the end of the game.”
The Buckeyes allowed only three third down conversions on 14 attempts by the Spartans, and didn’t allow a conversion on MSU’s lone fourth down attempt.
“We’re obviously frustrated; we were trying our best out there and we couldn’t get any points of the board,” Roby said. “We just have to do better on offense.”
Moeller wasn’t pointing any fingers at the offense.
“We can’t worry about what the offense does … the game is always in our hands,” he said. “If we don’t let them score, we win the game.”
Sweat said there is no time to dwell on the loss and the team will get back to work in practice this week.
“We need to have a short-term memory and get back to work,” he said. “It’s a dismal feeling, but I don’t think we need a pat on the back. We won’t let anyone feel sorry for us.”