Happy Wednesday! Friendly reminder that if Haskell Garrett can sack a quarterback less than two months after being shot in the face, you can make it through the rest of the week.
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
Gene Ross and George Eisner, LGHL
In their third episode of Hangout in the Holy Land, Gene and George discuss why, after watching the Nebraska game a second time, they each came away more confident in Ohio State’s offensive line and defensive formations than they were previously. They then preview this Saturday’s matchup against Penn State, the potential challenges the Nittany Lions may bring, as well as the areas Ohio State will be able to take advantage of.
Matt Tamanini, LGHL
If you, like every other Buckeye fan in the world, were screaming “JUST GET RID OF IT!!” at Justin Fields on Saturday, this column is for you.
Gene Ross, LGHL
The Buckeyes’ head coach met with the media on Tuesday. Find out what he had to say in yesterday’s Buckeye Bits.
Biggest news of the day...
Oof. I definitely didn’t think we’d get through the season without an outbreak, but I definitely didn’t think it was going to happen in week two.
Breaking: The Wisconsin football team will pause all team-related activities for at least seven days due to an elevated number of COVID-19 cases within the Badgers program.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 28, 2020
Wisconsin's game vs. Nebraska on Saturday will not be played or rescheduled. pic.twitter.com/ZeriXpDnzQ
Even though Wisconsin didn’t reach the Big Ten “red/red” level with its team and population positivity rates, which automatically triggers a seven-day pause in team activities, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez and chancellor Rebecca Blank made the joint decision to pause anyway, saying it was in the best interest for the Badgers to play the rest of the season.
Alvarez met with the media on Wednesday, and when asked about the status of their Nov. 7 game against Purdue, he said they would see where they are as far as testing and make that decision closer to game time.
For now, Alvarez said the six infected players will be staying in an individual hotel.
Paul Chryst also met with the media, as he was one of the six staff members to test positive.
“This morning I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday,” Chryst said in a statement released by the university on Wednesday. “I informed my staff and the team this morning and am currently isolating at home. I had not been experiencing any symptoms and feel good as of this morning.
“I am disappointed for our players and coaching staff who put so much into preparing to play each week. But the safety of everyone in our program has to be our top priority and I support the decision made to pause our team activities.”
Paul Chryst talking now. Doesn't know where/when outbreak started. Believes team can prepare in a short time for Purdue, but players will be tested every day.— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) October 28, 2020
Paul Chryst: "There certainly is a great awareness about (COVID). From the moment we got back together, I talked to my players all the time about what's happening. You can have the best of intentions and it can still happens. It feels different when (you have COVID)."— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) October 28, 2020
So...now what? The B1G made the decision that all games called off due to COVID-19 would be declared a no-contest, but does that still apply if the school chose to cancel?
No contest? Forfeit? What will be the ruling for the Nebraska-Wisconsin game https://t.co/xnZJhNO909— Saturday Tradition (@Tradition) October 28, 2020
What the Buckeyes are saying...
In Columbus, a handful of players met with the media to recap last Saturday and preview their next opponent. First up was QB1.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields meeting with the media this morning.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 28, 2020
Said he would grade his spin move on Saturday's rushing touchdown as a “B.” pic.twitter.com/Nn1008tzjO
Fields said the team has to manage their expectations and not get ahead of themselves. If they start looking ahead, bad things happen (as we’ve seen in the past).
He says they've learned from previous seasons where losses to teams like Purdue have cost them a shot at the national title.— BuckeyeScoop (@BuckeyeScoop) October 28, 2020
And then shots were fired.
PSA: if you spend your Saturday trying to injure Justin Fields and his wide receivers, he will come for you in the media.
Fields says guys tried to twist his ankle in the pile at times last weekend. He said that tends to happen more against teams that are bigger longshots.— BuckeyeScoop (@BuckeyeScoop) October 28, 2020
He says better teams, which are better coached, don't tend to do that as much in his experience.
The offensive line’s performance on Saturday wasn’t as seamless as we were expecting, and Fields said getting that protection right is one of the team’s top priorities at the moment.
As for Jaxon Smith-Njigba...
"It's not really surprising to see that catch he made. He does it all the time in practice." - Justin Fields on Jaxon Smith-Njigba's circus catch for a touchdown against Nebraska.— BuckeyeScoop (@BuckeyeScoop) October 28, 2020
Ohio State right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere was next to the podium. He began by saying that Penn State is a talented team with a great defensive line, and very active blitzing, so the Buckeyes needs to be ready for stunts and blitzes that the Lions may throw at them.
And if you’re worried about Ohio State’s safety in terms of COVID-19, Petit-Frere has assured us that his head coach is on top of it.
Asked whether Wisconsin being forced to cancel a game due to COVID-19 reinforces the importance of needing to be careful this season, Nicholas Petit-Frere said, “I don't know if you can reinforce that more than Coach Day already has.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 28, 2020
Shaun Wade echoed Petit-Frere’s message, saying the message of wearing masks and continuing to social distance has been constant and the team has been holding each other accountable.
Wade says the older guys have made a point to emphasize to the younger players that they have to wear masks everywhere they go, and sacrifice a little bit now to ensure they get a season in.— BuckeyeScoop (@BuckeyeScoop) October 28, 2020
Moving onto football talk, Wade said Ohio State’s defense hasn’t yet implemented a scheme to deal with Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth, but he’s warned his teammates Pete Werner and Josh Proctor about him.
As far as his own performance, Wade said he was pleased with how he did in Game 1, but he “definitely” has more in him.
Wade says it's fun to be outside even though he's not getting the ball thrown his way as much.— BuckeyeScoop (@BuckeyeScoop) October 28, 2020
He thinks that may change at Penn State: "This week is definitely going to be that challenge."
Last but not least, Marcus Hooker concluded the day’s interviews, admitting he had some first-game jitters against Nebraska.
Marcus Hooker wrapping up Ohio State interviews today.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 28, 2020
He said he thinks the Buckeyes' defense was “stuck in practice mode” at the start of the game, but got into a groove as the game progressed. Said he's had to learn not to worry about being perfect and dwelling on bad plays. pic.twitter.com/0KCAjPp3tz
Hooker said his first start came faster than he thought it would, and he feels like he’s not exactly a starter because he shares the position with Josh Proctor. And while he said he’ll always be a little nervous before a game because he cares, this time he’ll have the comfort of knowing that he can make the plays he made last week.
Marcus Hooker said he heard from his older brother Malik after Saturday's game. He said Malik told him he could tell Marcus was nervous and was overthinking things, so Marcus took that advice to heart.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 28, 2020
You heard it here first.