Personnel Updates from B1G Media Day Two

By Chad Peltier on July 27, 2012 at 12:30p
Thinking about pummeling opposing playersSimon is ready to anchor a 12-0 team

We're back for the second day of the Big Ten Media Event and today we got a chance to speak more directly with the players and Coach Meyer.

The more informal nature of the second day - the players and coaches each sat at different tables while we walked around - allowed us to ask more personal questions and for the players to feel more relaxed.

This turned out to be very valuable, as the players felt free to speak openly about their peers' development. Coach Meyer was, as usual, very honest and open in his assessments of where the team is at. 

Braxton Miller

One of the more noteworthy quotes of the day was when Coach Meyer called Braxton "the most dynamic athlete I've ever coached."

He did later add "at quarterback" in later questioning, but it is nonetheless a testament to Braxton's ability. 

Coach Meyer wasn't dismissive of Tebow's ability in the slightest, instead saying that Braxton simply had a different skill set. Notably, Braxton's "acceleration is just off the charts" and his ability to go east-west separates him from Tebow's more straight-ahead running style. 

Further, when pressed about how injury-prone Braxton is, Urban declined that he'd every be held back, though they will certainly be cognizant of his limits. Urban feels "free to be aggressive" with running Braxton because he "has trust in two quarterbacks," also talking up the strides Kenny Guiton has made both as a quarterback and student. 

Both Zach Boren and John Simon spoke to how much Braxton has improved as a leader, particularly in terms of giving commands to players, scheduling extra practices with wide receivers on Sundays, and not being as timid. 

The search for a feature back 

There's a lot of concern amongst fans that we might never see another 1,000-yard rusher while Urban is at Ohio State. Many point to his runningback-by-committee approach at Florida and his lack of a true feature back or even powerback besides Tebow. 

It's safe to say that Urban hasn't had a 1,000 yard rusher for lack of trying. I asked Urban today whether he thought he had a 15-carry per game rusher on the roster:

It's been a while since I've had that guy (a 15-carry per game rusher or feature back). And the guy is Carlos Hyde. He's the guy with the talent, he's the guy with the body type to get those carries...He's been too long in that gray area. It's his..what's the word... defining moment. It's his defining moment. 

A few weeks ago I wrote that it was Rod Smith's defining moment at Ohio State. Apparently Urban thinks it's more Carlos's time. 

This should excite fans who are critical of his past history with running backs. 

Leaner and meaner (but actually a really nice guy) Boren looks to have an expanded role on offense

Zach Boren: a new man 

Zach Boren's transformation was readily apparent at the B1G Media Days. He's lost 25 pounds since Marotti took over this year, down from about 265 last year to 240 now. As Simon said, 

Zach was a little bit chubby last year, but he's lean and mean this year.

Players typically lose weight over the course of the season as well, so Zach has visibly slimmed down. This slimming isn't just because John Simon called him "chubby" last year either - Boren figures to play a bit of a different role this year in the offense. 

Boren expressed his excitement over "not having to run ISO 50 times per game" anymore - #walrusball - and is more attuned to playing in space instead of getting his head hit running the middle. It's clear that Zach at least is happy to have the new offense: 

We're not running the I-offense anymore. I don't need to be cracking my helmet in the middle of the line anymore. We're out of that era.

That's not to say he's lost any strength either, as he also mentioned that his lift maxes have all increased. John Simon also mentioned that Boren still has the same personality as a football player and still wants to hit people, he just has more jobs that require speed in the new offense. 

Instead, Zach mentioned that he needed to work on his acceleration and his stamina in order to carry the ball more often, as he hasn't been a tailback since high school (up from two carries ever). Notably, he spent the summer with the tailbacks doing drills and workouts. 

I tried to get a comment out of him about how much he expects to run the ball or be involved as a pass-catcher, but he wouldn't bite. He did however say that he prides himself in his pass protection ability and compared himself to Hall in terms of his versatility (not playing style, obviously). 

Concussions: A truly scary problem 

Several players also spoke about the problem of concussions for today's college football player. 

Zach Boren told a story about how he was watching Sportscenter with his girlfriend when the Junior Seau news came up. He said that concussions are truly scary stuff and that he simply wants to grow old and watch his grand kids grow up one day. He seemed excited that the Big Ten and Ivy League would be pursuing joint-concussion research together as well. 

But don't think that'll change his playing style: 

I'm not going to lose my personality. I still love contact. I'm not going to be juking guys like Jordan hall. I've just been working on acceleration and open field speed.

Best Defensive Line in the Country 

Ohio State's defensive line was already going to be one of the top in the country even before the 2012 recruiting class got on campus, but the future line will be scary-good. 

I asked John Simon whether he was taking any guys under his wing personally, and he said that he's been working with Steve Miller a lot at LEO. Simon said that Steve Miller, a former four-star recruit, has had "the best off-season of any of the guys on the team, in my opinion." 

Miller isn't necessarily one of the most talked-about guys when so much attention is going to Simon and Hankins as well as incoming recruits like Washington and Spence, but Miller looks to have a great season as a LEO pass rusher. 

Simon also said that LEO feels like the most natural position to him, as he's been moved all over the defensive line in his career at Ohio State. 

Further, Urban and Simon both reiterated that Nate Williams is coming along well, "slightly ahead of schedule" in his recovery. They've got to move slowly with his return, but they look for him to get some snaps, even if it won't be every down. 

The defensive line looks to be especially dominant with the great improvements by the second and third string guys in the rotation. 


Comments Show All Comments

hodge's picture

I'm literally salivating at the thought of Braxton in this offense.  We're in for a spectacular three years.

buckeye76BHop's picture

^^^agreed.  I'm a bit more excited about the D-line and Defense in general.  On another note...don't be surprised if Rod Smith transfers when Hyde gets the majority of carries. 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

45buckshot's picture

I have been critical (well, not critical exactly, more like concerned) over UM3's use of RB by committee, and I am excited about that comment! Woo hoo! I'm not kidding, prove me wrong, this is the yr. if he really uses Hyde and gets him 1k yd this yr then, I think, that keeps the Brionte Dunns coming to tOSU... 

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

BlazeTheBuckeye's picture

@45buckshot you have the best profile picture i've seen.....we need another Katzenmoyer asap Straight BEAST

Hardly home but always reppin

BTBuckeye's picture

Carlos Hyde is a beast. It's his turn. Been sayin' that for months!!!!
Rob Smith has some time to go before he's productive.
Great report. Thanks!

MAVBuck's picture

^^ Even if this is a mere typo it completely encompasses ROD SMITH'S tenure so far at OSU. Carlos Hyde is a beast and while Rob Smith hasnt seen the field in almost 20 years, Rod Smith is on his way to the same fate at this rate.
Side note- Its good to finally hear something about Nate Williams. His pass rushing was missed in a bad way last year!

Dougger's picture

This is going to be so fun to watch. Braxton using the L2 and R2 jukin all over the place, maybe put a circle in there use a spin move, and hopefully puttin up video-game points too.
I went to the open practice UFM held in the spring, and Simon is a real nice dude, and I'm sure Boren is as well, but I only saw him on the walk to the locker room when kids were picking up gatorades; he must have still been locked in because I would not want to cross with that guy. And now he's leaner and meaner! Buckeyyeeeeee foootballlllllll

I like football

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Chad - great report! Every word/item you wrote was fresh and interesting.
Not to toot my own horn, but back in May, I provided some data (in a comment thread) on Urbz's past use of RBs that might be of interest to two or three readers:

I'm confident Urbz and company will make the best use of the personnel. Urbz would love to have a dominant power back, but he's not going to just dogmaticaly feed a mediocre powerback 180 carries because he believes in power football for its own sake. 

Utah 2004's top three rushers: powerback, Marty Johnson (225 lbs) ran 165 for 802 yds (4.9 per carry), 14 TDs; low-gravity guy, Quinton Ganther (5'9, 214 lbs) chipped in 109 for 654 yds (6.0 per), 2 TDs; and that was with a good running QB, Alex Smith taking 135 carries for 631 yds (4.7 per); 10 TDs.

His first two years at FLA, the reality was Deshawn Wynn and K. Moore were decent talents, but nothing special.

As Chad mentions, by 2008, they had so much ball-carrying talent, it was best to disperse the carries - Tebow, Rainey, Demps, Harvin, and E. Moody. In 2009, Harvin was gone, but the other four remained. In either of those two years, Rainey or Demps easily could have run for 1,000+ if necessary.  

Chad Peltier's picture

Thanks, I appreciate it! Also, the data you posted is great evidence on his use of running backs. Im really thinking Urban will give Hyde carries if he can produce. 

Apparebtly Hyde slimmed down from last year too - his weight apparently kept him off the field some.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

It's exciting to hear about Hyde - Urbz' comments, plus him slimming down. Right now, maybe until additional reports come out, I'd put Hyde as the favorite for offensive breakout player and Steve Miller as the defensive counterpart.

Chad Peltier's picture

Another interesting update: Meyer said they'll be auditioning several guys for Hall's pivot spot, which he called the "number three position." These players include Philly Brown, Evan Spencer, and even Najee Murray. Not saying any of them have a leg up, just that these guys are fast and will get a look.

Buckeyejason's picture

Great stuff! Loved reading that about Steve Miller. Heacock said that Miller would be "dominant" for us during the signing day interviews. Hope it's true, everyone's soo quick to name Spence the next Leo when Simon graduates..should be interesting.