A loss can be a painful experience, but positives can still be taken from a failure on the field.
That’s especially true for the Ohio State football team after its 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday.
“Yes, this hit us hard, and yes, we are hurting and licking our wounds from it right now,” OSU running backs coach Stan Drayton said Monday. “But at the same time, we had a very high-energy practice (Sunday) with a lot of kids motivated to move forward.”
The loss marked the first regular-season stumble for the Buckeyes since coach Urban Meyer took over in 2012, and the first loss in a home opener for the program since 1978.
While Drayton said the team is still upbeat after the loss, he stressed the pain it brought to the people involved.
“This one hurts — make no doubt about that,” he said. “This loss is not a comfortable loss by any stretch for any of us.”
Meyer said the loss came against “a very good team,” but recognized it was a first during his tenure in Columbus. Despite the pained feelings he said he sees in his players, the third-year OSU coach said the Buckeyes still need to move on and keep preparing for the rest of the season.
“I can tell (the players) are hurting,” Meyer said during a Monday press conference. “So we get to hurt the rest of the day today, and then coaching staff and players need to move forward and try to get our second win.”
OSU’s first crack at that second win is set to come this Saturday against Kent State, but a second win isn’t the overall goal for Meyer and his team.
The coach said the Buckeyes’ goals go well beyond that, and added that he believes the things they set as goals at the beginning of the season are still on the table, despite needing to improve on multiple facets of their game.
“Everything we’re shooting for is playing for championships in November, and that’s still right at our disposal,” he said. “I mean, we’ve got a heck of a long way to go, but you put your heart and your mind into that of a 19-year-old, and everything’s still there, and I see that.”
Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash echoed Meyer’s sentiments, saying OSU’s expectations are still in play. But he added that he believes the loss to the Hokies was still a negative and the game could have happened differently.
“Are we discouraged about the game Saturday? Absolutely,” Ash said. “Could we have played better in a couple situations to make a difference? Absolutely. But do we still have a chance to be outstanding? I believe so and we all think so.”
While Ash said the loss was a discouragement, Drayton said the response from the team since the loss has been nothing but encouraging for the entire staff.
“We’re very, very encouraged, as (Meyer) is very, very encouraged, by a bunch of motivated young men that want to make it right,” Drayton said. “They’re in here already on their own, watching film, studying the next opponent.”
As the players put in extra work, even most of the upperclassmen have to adjust to the uncommon experience of a loss, but it’s still not a completely foreign one.
Although the loss to the Hokies was the first during the regular season under Meyer, it was the third falter from the Buckeyes in their past four games. The only win in that stretch was a season-opening victory against Navy on Aug. 30 in Baltimore.
In Meyer’s first two full seasons in Columbus, OSU won 24 consecutive games before losing in the Big Ten Championship Game and the Orange Bowl last season. The year before Meyer arrived, OSU went 6-7, but historically, wins have been the norm for the Buckeye program.
Despite recent missteps along the road, Drayton said the Buckeyes have “absolutely not” taken a step back when it comes to the program’s expectations and quality.
“We know what we’ve got here,” he said. “We know the mindset of our players and we know how much they care about this program. And we know the commitment that both the coaching staff and our players have to having success here.”
Kickoff for OSU’s matchup with Kent State is scheduled for noon on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.