Quotebook: UCF

By Kyle Rowland on September 9, 2012 at 11:00a

It wasn’t always pretty, but Ohio State got the job done. Now at 2-0, as most of the rest of the Big Ten reels, the Buckeyes are having visions of a championship. But enough of that, there are still two non-conference games left on the docket. 

Meyer still had reason to smile. 

With injuries and lackluster play on everyone’s mind after Ohio State’s 31-16 win on Saturday, the postgame interview room contained some animated coaches and players. There were no tantrums, but the message is clear: Ohio State must, and will, improve.

Head coach Urban Meyer has now gone for it three times this season – twice against Central Florida – on 4th-and-1. Much to his dismay, they’ve only converted one of them. But the aggressive style has won over the fans.

“I'm trying to push the buttons to make us a good team,” Meyer said. “Midfield you should be able to, on 4th-and-1, get a first down. We did it twice, and I think our offense knows we're going to do it again. At some point you have to do that. When you're a very good team, which right now we're not, but we're working our tails off to become that very good team.”

Through two games, the Buckeyes are 2-0, the stated goal. But that doesn’t mean everything has gone swell.

“You'd think we'd have a little more pressure (on the quarterback),” Meyer said. “I don't know how good Central Florida's offensive line is. I think they played pretty good today. But their quick passing was, I don't want to say it was our excuse the first week, but we have got to pressure the quarterback. He had far too much time to throw the ball.

“(We’re) not where I thought we'd be. Not where I thought we'd be. I thought we'd be a little more explosive on offense and thought we'd get some pressure on the quarterback. Offensive line I think is doing a decent job moving the ball. Receivers are starting to build up a little bit but there's other areas where I thought we'd be a little more explosive on offense.”

Sure, Meyer was disappointed about the rash of injuries in the Ohio State backfield, but it was three turnovers and 10 penalties that upset him even more. It’s the sign of an undisciplined team, and that’s not the kind of perception Meyer wants.

“Pick your poison,” he said. “Turnovers and penalties. You can't win. That's not a good team. I don't want to say we're not a good team, but we're not. We're just mushing around out there. And we've got to be much better than we are.”

Instead of moping around, Meyer has decided to take the running back injuries head-on. The only thing you can do is get back at it and find solutions. Jordan Hall could return this week, though Meyer was mum on the situation. He took the stance of, we’ll find something that works.

“The only answer is it starts (Sunday),” Meyer said. “When we jog the first unit out there (Sunday), someone will jog out at tailback. Our choices are Zach Boren, Bri'onte or Rod Smith. Those are the choices, and maybe some situations Philly Brown.”

The inclusion of Brown makes sense due to his game against UCF, which included 33 rushing yards and 81 all-purpose yards. No mention of Hall could mean he’s not planning on using him this week, or it could mean nothing at all.

“We're going to have to really ID who is going to touch the ball,” Meyer said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and make some decisions on who is going to physically touch that ball and they have to take care of it, obviously.”

After playing more plays than anticipated last week, Nathan Williams spent the entire week sore and off of the practice field. There is no word on whether he was rushed into action or if his knee just can’t handle the strain of football. Microfracture surgery is a crapshoot, so chances are his knee isn’t close to the same as before.

“He was sore all week,” Meyer said. “It's frustrating for him, and it's frustrating for us. It's a tough injury.”

When it comes to the defense, Meyer steers clear, allowing his defensive staff to handle personnel and plays. But this past week he noticed Orhian Johnson continually standing out on defense and special teams. That’s when Meyer went into action and used some head-coaching power. He lobbied for Johnson to see more playing time. The defensive coaches obliged and the fifth-year senior took over star duty from Pittsburgh Brown. It worked, considering he made six tackles, tipped a pass that resulted in an interception and had an interception himself.

“I was very involved with that decision because I see he's so talented,” Meyer said. “But he's another guy that's been around here, production hasn't been exactly what it needs to be. He earned that right in practice. He does some really good things for us on special teams, and we felt like we needed more production out of that nickel spot.” 

Johnson rewarded Meyer's faith in him.

And after all the concerns were aired out, Meyer kept it in perspective.

“I don't want to be a downer around here.” he said. “We won a frickin’ game. We won by two touchdowns against a quality opponent. It’s time to move on and get ready to go play (Cal).”

When Ohio State got the ball back late in the fourth quarter and leading by two touchdowns they didn’t just kneel on the ball. Co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Ed Warinner gave the answer as to why, and I think fans will like it.

“I don’t think that’s really our style,” he said.

Despite Braxton Miller gaining huge chunks of yards on almost every play, UCF refused to load up at the line or clog the middle of the field. I asked him after the game if it surprised him. Here’s the answer:

“Oh yeah. We tried to get some separation by spreading out the wide receivers. But it was wide open,” he said with emphasis.

Twenty-seven carries later, Miller figures he might feel a little something on Sunday.

“I wasn't as sore as I am right now (last week), but there's a big gap between 27 and 17,” he said.

A key play in Saturday’s game was the interception by Etienne Sabino, the first of his career. It came with Ohio State leading 24-10. The Buckeyes turned the pick into seven more points and a 21-point cushion.

“Our defensive line and our front guys, especially Ryan Shazier, had some good pressure,” Sabino said. “The ball kind of bounced up into my hands; you can’t give me too much credit. I credit the defensive line for bringing the pressure.”

The defensive line’s lack of pressure on the quarterback has been a talking point for consecutive weeks. Noah Spence chimed in.

“Both the teams we have played so far are great,” he said. “I think Central Florida was a little more physical. They pushed a little more and tried a little harder. I could tell they wanted to win.”

One of the biggest moves in the offseason was Jake Stoneburner’s shift from tight end to wide receiver. But even Stoneburner has been left flummoxed about his spot in the offense.

“I don’t really know what my role is for sure,” Stoneburner said. “They have me listed as a starting wide receiver, but they have put me in at tight end and I’ve played a little bit of fullback. I guess they just want to use me in different ways. I’m fine with that. I just need to make sure I know all the different positions well.”

With the decimation of the Ohio State running backs, Boren is likely to get his number called more. He had seven carries on Saturday, but knows there is plenty of room for improvement.

“I need to get a lot better,” Boren said. “I haven’t played at the running back position in four years, so there is a lot I can an improve on --- not fumbling the ball first and foremost, but also my reads and ability to make defenders miss. There’s always stuff you can improve on, and I’m definitely not there just yet.

“This week is a big week for us. We’ve played well in the last two games, but we’ve also made some serious mistakes, so we need to see improvement in practice leading up to next Saturday.”

The Buckeyes haven’t been satisfied with the play of the front seven – few sacks, not enough pressure on the quarterback, etc. Asked his opinion, UCF head coach George O’Leary had a completely different take.

“Ohio State’s front seven is outstanding,” he said. “John Simon is as good as anyone in the country. You don’t want to take your time passing against them. The quarterback can’t take more than three or four step drops.”

O’Leary caused a minor uprising among Ohio State fans before the game when he insulted Ohio Stadium and its crowd by saying fans sit on their hands. Well, quarterback Blake Bortles had a different stance.

“It was definitely a factor,” Bortles said about crowd noise. “We had to switch to our silent count because the noise was such a huge issue. We had two false starts right from the beginning, so yes the noise affected us.”


Comments Show All Comments

klfeck's picture

UCF's false start at the beginning of the game was a beautiful thing. You could tell many of the fans were well aware of O'Leary's remark about noise.
There were more than a few times where I wondered if the Walrus had crept back into the shoe and called a few plays. I see tons of room for improvement. I hope they get their soon for their own sake before they start playing B1G competition.
The long pass seems to be missing badly, defensive back play is often suspect and there has got be be more pressure from the D-line. 
IMHO- game ball would go to big hank. Good god is he a wrecking ball.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

buckeyedude's picture

I was excited when Meyer was named HC. I love(d) Tressel, and I have to say, I really, really love(in a brotherly way) this man, Urban. I love a guy that says "frickin' to the media". I say frickin' all the time. It's very empowering. I like that Urban says what's on his mind and doesn't bullshit the media and fans. With Tress, we always had to worry that the bad stuff would never get worked out because he kept everything so secretive.
With Urban, he's very transparent and I'm not concerned that he will get these problems figured out and make improvements. If I was a player, I certainly wouldn't want to piss him off. He's got that toughness that Woody had.



SilverBulletNYC's picture

When it comes to pressuring the quarterback, I don't think we lack the playmakers. I think we lack the right schemes. The 4-2-5 we are running is not allowing us to rush the passer. We have Simon, Hankins, Washington and Spence- we should be able to rush the passer. Fickell better figure it out...quick.

The South will NOT rise again!

buckeyechad's picture

I really hope going for it on 4th in our own territory isn't going to be a regular thing against better teams.

Crimson's picture

I don't mind it, but they are calling vanilla plays when doing it.  I hope it continues, and when they get into the B1G, they start dialing up some Braxton rollouts with short receiving threats.

builderofcoalitions's picture

I agree, but I think Meyer is just making a point. He doesn't want to have to out-scheme a team on 4th-and-1. He wants to out-muscle them, sending a message to his team that this is what the Buckeyes are and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.
I hope he gets a few more opporunities in the next two games before MSU to try it again. With more success, the offense will just expect to get that yard every time. That kind of toughness will be huge going into East Lansing.

Because we couldn't go for three.

danavh4's picture

I'm 40 y/o and I've been Yelling OH everywhere I go for 39.18 years!  I have to say that I don't get it...  I hope it is because we are holding back until we get into B1G play but everything I see thus far is just plain Vanilla.  And did Noah Spence really say both the teams we have played are great?  Did he see that Miami of Ohio didn't necessarliy walk all over SIU?  Our schemes are basic, Braxton is not going to be able to continue to pound the ball for 25 plays and if he gets hurt did you see Kenny Guitton crap his pants on the one play he was in on?  I'm worried to say the least.  Of course a win is a win but if you really know football you can see there are a lot of huge (can't say chinks) gaping holes in our armour.)  UCF was ready for everything we did the only difference was B. Mill's athletic ability.  I want to see them unleash this "beast of a Defensive line we have all heard so much about!  And not to bring up another negative...I'm really concerned that the pitiful state of the entire B1G is going to hurt us recruiting wise.  Sorry to be such a bummer on a Sunday morning.

Michigan Fan: "We lose a long snapper and the whole team goes to shit!"

Jdadams01's picture

I don't know what you mean about Guiton crapping his pants. All he did was hand off for a 5 yard carry.

Bolt's picture

The only issues I have are with the lack of pressure by the defensive front and the numerous blown coverages in the secondary that we've already seen. UCF may have been prepared for us but that doesn't mean they had anything to stop us. The only thing that stopped us was us. Turnovers and broken plays. There were so many awkward broken plays. That's the kind of stuff I expected to see early on anyway with a brand new offense and so many young players playing significant time.

bukyze's picture

Reading Stoneburner's quote is depressing.  He should be a main focal point of our offense.

Jdadams01's picture

Why? When he's gone out for routes, I've very rarely seen him get much separation.

buckeyedude's picture

Maybe we need another slow white guy with great hands like Dane Sanzenbacher?



BuckGuy003's picture

I'm assuming that was sarcasm? Dane ran a really fast forty and will start for the bears soon I bet. He's my favorite buckeye and I wish he was still here to make a difference in this receiving core. I don't see our wrs getting much separation at all. I'm hoping we're saving these deep bombs for B1G play cause we took more shots downfield last year and I'm not impressed.

buckeyedude's picture

Yes sarcasm. I was/am his biggest supporter.
Edited for tone



wside buck's picture

He doesn't need much separation to be open. He's taller than anyone that tries to cover him.

builderofcoalitions's picture

I noticed a couple of times Meyer was giving Stoneburner an earful. He doesn't seem to be grasping the playbook as well as he should. His comment adds some context to his struggles. If he's a focal point, he needs to know multiple positions.

Because we couldn't go for three.

Hoody Wayes's picture

I have never been more confident in the Buckeyes.
Ohio State beat UCF with better talent and coaching, despite playing much less than their best.
They will improve.

Bolt's picture

This is so true. It's weird that we saw plenty of breakdowns and room to criticize last week and STILL put a 56-10 beatdown on the scoreboard. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself but I can't wait to see this team next year when the offense is completely in sync. Hopefully sooner than next year. UCF is actually a pretty good team. They really are a team that's just outside the top 25. I look around the B1G and see a bunch of floundering teams and can't help but think that we really could have a shot at 12-0 without even having reached our full potential. That's very encouraging in what is considered a "lost year"

DefendYoungstown's picture

Jake Stoneburner’s role is to run clean routes, get separation and catch the ball. He may have been all that and a bag of chips last year but this is a different year with a new chief.  He needs to watch his comments, if he doesn't know his role I'm sure the coaching staff will find somebody that knows their role.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

buckeyedude's picture

I was thinking the same thing. Could it be that Stoneburner has an attitude because of his treatment after pissing in public? He better watch himself.



Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Urban and staff love games like this!  They get a win and because of some errors and other issues, get to run the hell out of the team because of it!  If there aren't some mistakes and sloppy plays once in a while, the coaches seem to lose their edge and it shows up later!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced