Quotebook: Obliterating Rutgers and the Joys of Being Discontent

By Patrick Maks on October 19, 2014 at 10:05 am

On a chilly, rainy and gray afternoon, Ohio State obliterated Rutgers, 56-17, in the latest triumph of a team that’s stormed back to life since a stunning loss to Virginia Tech.

The 13th-ranked Buckeyes — which seem like they’re starting to emerge as legitimate contenders on the national stage — simply dominated the overmatched Scarlet Knights from start to finish Saturday in Columbus.

Yet in postgame interviews, redshirt freshman linebacker Darron Lee — on his birthday, no less — acted like Ohio State had won in a messy squeaker.

“I mean, it feels good, but we’re never satisfied. I was just talking to some guys down there: We just beat this team pretty badly and it almost felt like a loss.”


“That just shows the hunger. We play with a chip on our shoulder.”

The Buckeyes — which notched their fourth-straight blowout win since losing to Virginia Tech — spoke of a collective refusal to grow complacent as they swell with momentum amid a very fluid national picture. It’s a trickledown effect that starts with head coach Urban Meyer:

“Complacency is awful in this business.”

Junior linebacker Joshua Perry said:

“We can win by as much as we did, but we’re not going to be satisfied if we don’t close out the game, if we give up some plays in the second half. That just comes with maturity over time — being able to lock in and execute for a whole game.”

Lee said:

“The more we keep focusing on that, it’ll help us in the long run. We’re never satisfied — probably won’t be until the season’s over.”

After tearing through Rutgers and Maryland in back-to-back Big Ten blowouts, Meyer said he thinks Ohio State’s worthy of being a top-10 team. He might be right in that assessment. 

“Someone will blog it out and say ‘Here's Coach Meyer ranting and raving again.’ I'm not. I don't really watch the other teams, but I think we're playing at a pretty high level right now.”

The Buckeyes are kindled by an offense that has been bonkers good since that loss to the Hokies Sept.6. Saturday was Ohio State's fourth-straight game of at least 500 yards and 50 points. The latter of which is a new school record, the former tied one set back in 1998. 

J.T. Barrett, once the wide-eyed redshirt freshman charged with replacing star quarterback Braxton Miller, is playing out of his mind. He was 19-of-31 for 261 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 107 yards and two scores on seven carries.

But, please, don't ask offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman if Barrett's a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy.

"They don't ask me that. I don't know. I don't know what the qualifications for that trophy are. I thought Ndamukong Suh should've won it a few years ago. I thought he was the most dominant player in college football that year. Maybe that's a few scars coming back from having to coach against him, but I don't know what the criteria for that is. I just want him to keep getting better as an Ohio State quarterback."

Not to mention, the weapons around Barrett — namely sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott, H-backs Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall, wide receiver Michael Thomas and an offensive line that's giving him ample time to plant his feet and scan the field — are blooming at a furious rate. 

But Meyer — a nitpicking perfectionist — said there’s things he didn't like Saturday:

"I still grade us down offensively ... I still consider our red-zone offense not as good as it should be. So that gives us something really to work on tomorrow."

He also unsurprisingly dismissed any notion of feeling satisfied when asked if blowing out Rutgers was worthy of a "job well done" type of postgame speech.

"I don't feel that yet. There will be a time for that. It's usually in January. It's not now.  It's a time to, first of all, develop depth. We could go on and on about the mistakes that were made today. But enjoy the win tonight, go see your families, do what you gotta do and come back ready to go. The good thing this is a really good team to coach right now. They're as hungry as our coaching staff, and that's a good sign."

The Buckeyes, though, made very easy work of a Rutgers team that came into Ohio Stadium with a 5-1 record. 

“They have an excellent football team. I think today is a great example that when you play a really talented football team the margin of error is very small," Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said. "And we just didn’t play very clean football. They certainly executed better than we did today.”

Elliott said Ohio State prepared for Rutgers as if they had yet to taste defeat.

We attacked this game like they were an undefeated team. We have a lot of momentum.”

No kidding.

With momentum, of course, comes confidence. Perry said:

"We wake up saying we like our chess pieces compared to other teams. Take that for what you want it to be. Is it confident? Yes. But we’re still a very serious team. We know that we’ve got to put ourselves in those situations."

But the Buckeyes insist they're careful of becoming too sure of themselves. Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said:

"It's something that's engrained in the program: It's that never-satisfied mentality. And it's not always the easiest way to live your life, but we understand that ... that's the expectation."

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