Bucks back to work, Iowa up next


COLUMBUS — Coming out of a well-placed bye week, No. 2 Ohio State returned to the practice field this week in preparation for Saturday’s game against the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-3) and the start of the second half of the schedule.

Ohio State entered the bye week on a high note after cruising to a 49-20 win over Michigan State in its first road game of the season, and it’s had little trouble overall en route to a perfect 6-0 record. The stakes will begin to rise in the weeks to come, however, as November draws near and the regular season enters its stretch run.

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, head coach Ryan Day said he is happy with the way his team has responded to the time away from football as they get back into their normal schedule.

“I think the energy has been really good,” Day said of his team’s return to practice. “I think our guys have had a lot of juice about them, even in the off week. Sometimes you feel a lull during that time, but I don’t feel like that at all. But it’s great to get them back. I think a couple of days away reenergized them even more coming back into the Woody (Hayes Athletic Center) yesterday.”

Without an opponent to prepare for, Ohio State spent much of its open week focused on improving technique and playing fundamentally-sound football. And although it will return to a typical week of game preparation this week, head coach Ryan Day said on Tuesday there will still be a heavy emphasis on those two aspects given they’ll be necessary to beat Iowa.

“I think we did a good job of that, but the emphasis this week will be on Iowa,” Day said of getting back to the basics. “But we’re still going to be hammering the fundamentals and techniques because that’s what Iowa does such a great job with. I think they’re very, very good with their pad level, with their hands. They understand their offense and defense better than you, and that’s their goal. You can tell that. And they play good complimentary football.”

After winning the Big Ten West Division and playing in the Big Ten Championship Game a year ago, this season has been nothing short of a disaster for Iowa, particularly on offense. The Hawkeyes average just 239 yards per game and have scored a total of seven offensive touchdowns through six games.

Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, has been under fire for years as Iowa fans grow increasingly discontent with the punchless showings from the offense. That scrutiny has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks as Iowa has failed to score more than 14 points in each of its last two games and has done so just four times this season.

Despite those struggles, however, Day said on Tuesday his team won’t get caught up in Iowa’s paltry offensive output as the Buckeyes put together their plan to win the game.

“I think their style is similar to some of the teams we’ve played,” he said. “They want to control the game. They’re not looking to or are interested in scoring a million points or getting a ton of yards. They want to just win the game and that’s their focus. You can tell they are complimentary and they’ve done that for a long time, and it’s a winning recipe. So, we’re not going to look too far into that and just make sure we’re identifying how to go win the game.”

Of course, while the offense continues to look lost, defensively, they have been everything fans of college football have come to expect from an Iowa defense. Iowa ranks seventh in the country in total defense and is giving up an average of just 265 yards per game despite the team ranking 113th in time of possession.

Perhaps most notably, Iowa has forced 10 turnovers already this season with six interceptions and four fumble recoveries. And with an offense that is incapable of scoring points, turnovers by Ohio State are likely the only thing that can keep Iowa in the game on Saturday.

“They force you to execute all the way down the field,” Day said. “They get their hands on a lot of balls. I’ve seen it before, seen these guys live and in color. It’s something we have to talk to our offense about and make sure we understand how important the ball is here, and then just do a good job of recognizing they’re a very, very good defense that is going to keep (the ball) in front of them … They feel like they know their defense better than you know your offense, and anytime that’s the case, you have to do a great job of being detailed yourself and be really clean with the gameplan.”

Saturday’s game will kick off at noon and will be broadcasted on FOX as part of the network’s Big Noon Kickoff.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day jogs off the field following pregame warmups before the start of the Sept. 24 game against Wisconsin in Ohio Stadium.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/10/web1_Day-Wisconsin-Game.jpgOhio State head coach Ryan Day jogs off the field following pregame warmups before the start of the Sept. 24 game against Wisconsin in Ohio Stadium. Joshua Keeran | The Gazette

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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