Ryan Day Will Bring Playoff to Ohio State's Spring Practice

Bruce Hooley

The pain and disappointment of Ohio State's 29-23 loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl lingers so strongly even after three weeks that the Buckeyes may have to perform a purposeful exorcism of sorts just to get past it.

You can imagine head coach Ryan Day conjuring some symbolic gesture before spring practice like burning the game tape in front of his team, flushing it down the toilet or burying it somewhere adjacent to the practice field.

You'd have to imagine it, because it appears Day has no plans to do any such thing.

It's not that he wants his team wallowing in the disappointment of losing the College Football Playoff semifinal, it's that Day thinks there is both tangible and intangible value in bringing forward what stood between OSU and a trip to the national championship game.

"Obviously, when you’re a competitor, it’s hard to lose in a game of that magnitude when you feel like you played really, really well," Day said. "But when you watch the game, we came up short in certain areas."

Those areas are well-known by now:

  • Three first-half field goals ended trips to the Red Zone.
  • A targeting penalty sustained a Clemson touchdown drive.
  • A roughing-the-punter penalty allowed Clemson to score another TD.
  • OSU allowed a four-play, 96-yard go-ahead touchdown drive.
  • A miscommunication between Chris Olave and Justin Fields led to a game-ending interception.

"When you’re playing in big games and the margin for error is tiny, that’s what happens," Day said. "I don’t know if we’ve moved on yet. I don’t know if that’s the word. It’s still kind of sitting there and we’re thinking about it a lot. It’s going to motivate us moving forward, but at some point you do have to take the next step."

Besides allowing the disappointment to fuel OSU emotionally, Day plans to try simulating the late-game situations the Buckeyes didn't master in the hopes they'll be better prepared next season.

"We weren't in that kind of a game all year," he said. "We came back in the Wisconsin game and pulled away. We have to be willing to win a game in the fourth quarter with the two-minute drill when the game goes back and forth like that. We didn't.

"That's something to work on this spring. We'll try to put the guys in situations where they have to go win a game like that, where they go back and forth.'

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