The criticism wasn't coated in sugar.
The Ohio State offensive linemen swallowed hard, and they realized Urban Meyer was right about their struggles in the spring.
The praise the Buckeyes are getting at times from their new coach is going down a bit smoother in training camp.
And while right tackle Reid Fragel and his teammates hear the good just like they did the bad, only one of those sentiments is really worth paying attention to this month.
"Putting pressure on us from the beginning helped, and I think we responded well," Fragel said. "Now that he’s maybe giving us some praise, I mean, it’s nice, but you have to look past it and keep going.
"Any time you start listening to that stuff, that’s when you start taking steps back."
The move forward has been driven by improvements in seemingly every aspect of the game in the trenches, from lowered body fat and strength gains to familiarity with the playbook and tempo the Buckeyes are installing.
That's a far cry from where the Buckeyes were when Meyer took over for his first practice in the spring, and he wasn't shy about airing his disappointment. But once the linemen processed the message about their inconsistent play and took a closer look for themselves, all they could do was agree -- and start correcting it.
"We have a great group of guys that want to bust their (butt) and do everything they can to get better, and I think we kind of were almost humbled and embarrassed when Coach Meyer first got here," Fragel said. "It was a reality check, a wake-up call.
"He was blunt and honest, and when we all kind of took a step back and looked at it, he was right. We wanted to do everything we could to correct it and fix it, and I think we’re doing a great job."
But if Meyer tells them so, don't expect Fragel to dwell on it. He and the Buckeyes are looking for constructive criticism, not validation.