COLUMBUS, Ohio — Every Tuesday throughout the season, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer participates in the Big Ten coaches conference call. Nearly every Tuesday, he turns down the chance to make an opening statement and instead turned straight to questions from those on the call.
This Tuesday, with Penn State and raucous Beaver Stadium as this coming weekend’s test, there was plenty to talk about:
- Asked about evaluating Ohio State’s recruiting success in Pennsylvania, Meyer said he “loves the Pittsburgh” area and wants to do more in recruiting Pennsylvania. Says he didn’t realize Malik Hooker was the only player on the roster from the Keystone State. Credits Pitt and Penn State for keeping them out.
- After another overtime win, Meyer says he doesn’t get more aggressive in overtime, but that the Buckeyes do prepare a lot in the spring and summer for it. He said they don’t like to kick field goals in that situation and the defense does a lot of work defending the red zone. He compared the Wisconsin game to the Penn State game in 2014, saying the Buckeyes didn’t play particularly well and that the “script was written” that Ohio State was going to lose. Said the common denominator was J.T. Barrett, Billy Price, and Pat Elflein leading the way.
- Penn State’s offensive scheme has changed, and Meyer says that Trace McSorley is “something” though he admits that Saquon Barkley is the “kingpin” of the Nittany Lions offense.
- Asked about the “White Out” at Penn State, Meyer said it’s one of the great atmosphere’s in college football. The Penn State students are “outstanding,” according to Meyer. He said Ohio State’s experiences at Oklahoma and Wisconsin may help the Buckeyes prepare for Saturday.
- The passing game still needs work but Meyer said the Buckeyes were better at Wisconsin than they were at Indiana. He said the Badgers played a lot more zone than Ohio State expected and that caught them off guard. With so much new personnel, it takes time to get better but Meyer said the Buckeyes are still the most efficient passing team in the Big Ten.
- As for a timing issue in the passing game, that is because of new personnel, but Meyer said the biggest issue in the Ohio State passing game is separation from defensive backs in man coverage.
- Jerome Baker has “exceptional talent” and Ohio State saw that a year ago, according to Meyer. Said his sophomore linebacker is very efficient.
- Tyler Durbin is “incredible” and Meyer wishes he could keep him around for another year. He is loved by his teammates, Meyer added.
- Meyer’s question marks coming into the season aren’t completely answered and he says they’re never completely answered, but he “loves this team” and they’re everything you look for in a group. There are all different areas to work on, including stopping the run and deep passing efficiency, but Meyer “loves where they’re at.”
- Ohio State has been “fortunate” that its offensive line has remained healthy, according to Meyer.