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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Just about everything during Saturday's 50-28 victory over Cincinnati went well for No. 20 Ohio State.
It's the few things that didn't that haunt coach Urban Meyer.
"I hear someone say, 'Just take away those four plays ...'" Meyer said Monday. "But you can't just take away those four plays. That's part of the game."
The Buckeyes have scored 116 points in two wins since a withering defeat to Virginia Tech. But heading into Saturday's Big Ten opener at Maryland, Meyer was still troubled by four touchdown passes by Cincinnati — three of which covered at least 60 yards — in the most recent win.
Gunner Kiel completed 21 of 32 passes for 352 yards and the four scores. It was a bitter sequel to the horror show that Ohio State defenders had to watch on game films late last year.
The Buckeyes were ravaged for 380 passing yards per game in the last three games of last season, losing twice. So Meyer hired new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash to take a wrecking ball to the old defense and construct a new one based on cornerbacks going one-on-one with wide receivers and everybody else playing far more aggressively.
It was hard to tell the old D from the new one when a Bearcat receiver was running free down the center of the field.
The Bearcats and Kiel took advantage of the Buckeyes' aggressiveness.
"Live by the sword, die by the sword sometimes," said Ohio State's other co-coordinator, Luke Fickell. "But you don't like to die by three of them (the long passes)."
Fickell says they just need to keep working on the problems.
"We've got to build upon the positives and correct those little things — not little things, but big things — that show up," Fickell said.
When asked about the long touchdown passes, backup cornerback Armani Reeves chose to look at the big picture.
"We need to eliminate them getting those touchdowns. But it doesn't hurt us. They got the upper hand and at the end of the day we still won the game," he said. "That's what matters. No matter if they caught those or not, we won the game."
Meyer says the scores were a mixture of Cincinnati executing well and the Buckeyes making glaring mistakes.
Clearly upset after the game, Meyer discussed with players and coaches how to avoid a recurrence. Maryland, which figures to be particularly inspired as it hosts its first Big Ten game ever, has one of the best receivers in the nation in Stefon Diggs.
Meyer normally spends most of his time with the offense. Yet he still shouldered some of the blame for the problems with the secondary.
"I don't call defenses. But I'm a game manager," he said. "That's what my job is, and I should have had more input in that."
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