Obviously TCU is not Rutgers and bears little resemblance to Oregon State, the two teams Ohio State dominated in its first two football games of the season.
So, how are the No. 4 Buckeyes (2-0) preparing for the No. 15 Horned Frogs (2-0) in their Saturday night match-up at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys?
They’re preparing pretty much the same way as any other week, acting coach Ryan Day said on Monday at OSU’s weekly press conference in what will be his last week of standing in for head coach Urban Meyer during his three-game suspension.
“The sign of a mature group is you can win a big game like we did the last two games but then come to work and be critical of yourself and take the coaching so that we make the corrections to keep building,” Day said. “We have to make corrections. We have to be critical of ourselves. In a game like this some of the mistakes you’re making will catch up to you. When you think they’re OK, they’re not. We’ve got to get them fixed.
“When you play in big games obviously you have to take care of the football, you have to run the football, you have to play good defense. Every play is so much more important. In terms of preparing for it, though, we’re going to be who we are. When you start to stray and focus on other things, like it being a big game, that’s when you get distracted.
“We’re going to focus on us and if we play the way we know we can play, then that’s going to give us the best chance to win. If we start to overthink it or anything else we’re not putting our best foot forward,” he said.
“Our execution level has to be high every play. It can’t be on just four out of five plays. We went through the films, we made the corrections and now we’re on to TCU.”
Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano also answered questions at the press conference, covering topics that included OSU’s defensive backfield, its linebackers, former Buckeyes cornerback Denzel Ward’s big day for the Cleveland Browns, Chase Young’s two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and what teams are doing to try to contain Nick Bosa.
Schiano said safety Jordan Fuller has the skills that he could play a variety of positions.
“Jordan would be good at whatever he did. He came here as a corner and could play corner. He’s got that kind of coverage skills. He could play receiver and he was a quarterback in high school,” Schiano said.
OSU’s other safety position is still unsettled, with Isaiah Pryor, Jahsen Wint, Shaun Wade and maybe some other players still competing for the majority of the playing time.
“Shaun Wade is getting better and better and we’re trying to find a place for him. I’m encouraged by Isaiah and I think Jahsen is going to continue, and there are other guys at the position, too. They’re all about the same age so we’re going to keep that thing going for a while and see if one of them can pull away,” he said.
On Ward he said, “I did not get to see it because we were working but I’m just really excited for him. There is not a nicer guy in the world and he is just a tremendous athlete. And to do it in his hometown has to be pretty cool for him.”
Tuf Borland and Baron Browning will continue to share time at middle linebacker, Schiano said.
“I think we have more than three linebackers so more than three will play. Tuf is obviously coming back off the (Achilles tendon) injury and Baron is just getting his feet underneath him as a middle linebacker. They’ll both continue to play. Tuf just has a sense for the football. He just seems to be around the ball all the time. And Baron has an unbelievable ability to cover ground. For a big man – for anyone – he runs extremely well,” he said.
Young had two sacks in last Saturday’s 52-3 win over Rutgers but he also had two penalties for excessive celebrations— one when he spiked the ball after one of the sacks and for running on to the field after Wade intercepted a pass.
That kind of intensity is not all bad, Schiano said.
“I don’t to want to make too big a deal of it. You need to control yourself because you don’t want to get a penalty. But I love the excitement he plays with, the passion he plays with. But you’ve got to kind of harness it just a little bit. My thing is I want us to play with that edge. Part of playing great defense is having an edge. You have to be careful you don’t overdo it in tempering it,” he said.
Bosa, as expected, is not getting a lot of one-on-one blocking from opposing offenses. “I think it will get more and more creative every week. They are going to do special things for sure,” Schiano said.