Ohio State head coach Ryan Day asks for waiting time during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on October 24. Ohio State won 52-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor
Even though the Ohio State football team only plays once a week, the Buckeyes are looking for two weekly wins: one late in the game and one near kickoff.
The COVID-19 outbreak has derailed the Wisconsin season – forcing the Badgers to cancel their second straight game – while the State of Ohio has so far avoided canceling. Head coach Ryan Day said he is focused on taking his team to a level of greatness in his game, but the unusual daily routine and relentless opponents in COVID-19 have made his way as difficult as ever.
Even before the last seconds mark the time, Day said she was anxiously waiting for the chance to play the game without any distraction.
“It’s week to week, it’s day to day, for sure,” said Day. “You held your breath all week. You held your breath today. ”
After playing in the first Top Ten game of the season on October 23, Wisconsin has yet to take to the field after the COVID-19 outbreak broke out in the team. Wisconsin reported 27 active cases Nov. 3.
After the Badgers had their game against Nebraska canceled October 28, Day said he felt for the Wisconsin football team. The Ohio State head coach also addressed the fact that Nebraska, which has no COVID-19 cases on its team, lost a match.
“It’s something we worry about every day,” said Day on October 29. “Try to make sure we are clean and do our part, but still, I think Nebraska is doing everything they need to do and still no games this week. ”
Now Purdue is the latest team to lose a game without its own outbreak.
As the current Top Ten rules apply, a team must play at least six games to qualify for the Top Ten Championship – an event scheduled for December 19. With only eight regular season games on the schedule and no weeks open to making games, the Top Ten teams can’t miss more than two games and still qualify.
Even though the State of Ohio hasn’t lost the game, it has a problem with the protocol set by the Big Ten.
Justin Hilliard graduate linebacker received a positive test for COVID-19 on the Saturday leading up to kickoff – keeping him out of the fight against Penn State.
Day said subsequent polymerase chain reaction tests would show initial results to be false positives, but Hilliard still can’t play.
“We feel bad for Justin,” said Day. “I know it’s something that is being discussed and discussed to try to find ways to make it better, but that is the policy that is there. I know the Top Ten is constantly talking about it and trying to figure out what the best thing is to move forward. ”
Even though he missed the match, Hilliard has avoided the 21-day period away from football awaiting any player who catches COVID-19.
The uncertainty of the roster every week has forced Ohio State coaches to prepare players in different ways.
Defense coordinator Kerry Coombs said a team could not guarantee a specific player would be available on match day, making preparations “dramatically” different.
“You’d better have an emergency plan. You’d better have a thought process if you got three false positives on the same unit about to launch, what would you do? Coombs said Tuesday. “It’s not just about training people for depth, but now about training people for depth and versatility – which I think is important.”
Beyond the preparatory aspect, Day said ahead of the Penn State game that the emphasis was on keeping players focused on the game and not setting travel protocols – including renting out hotels and dressing before heading to the stadium.
Although Day felt that the logistics of safe travel were handled well by the team, he emphasized that the focus on avoiding exposure to COVID-19 remained.
“I think we’re doing the best job you can, but it’s like anything else, if one person gets it and exposes another, that’s when the work can get out of hand,” said Day. “We can’t stop focusing on that and we have to continue to think that everyone on the team – every coach, everyone – has him.”
Throughout the season, Day has said the Buckeyes need to handle unusual circumstances better than their opponents.
Despite safety concerns continuing to loom over the team, senior midfielder Pete Werner said there was no shortage of playing fun during an unprecedented time.
“Obviously it’s hard to try to find those nice little moments wherever you can get them,” Werner said Wednesday. “If you play well, you have fun. As long as we continue to play well and do our job, it’s fun for me. I like to compete, I like to win games, I like to be at the top so it’s fun for me. ”