The initial thought is panic, then anger. Coaches, players and fans aren’t happy with Ohio State's place in the first BCS rankings of the year. But it’s still October. Five regular season games remain and a conference championship game for anyone else (minus the Big 12) who considers themselves a national title contender.
Head coach Urban Meyer is breathing easy, though. He’s won two national championships and is well-versed on the BCS, having been the original party crasher with Utah. When Florida beat Ohio State for the 2006 championship, the Gators were an underdog all season. They were ranked sixth in the initial BCS rankings and didn’t ascend to the second spot until after the SEC Championship.
On Monday, he was solely focused on one thing. Well, two: improving during the week ahead and beating Penn State. It’s no secret the Buckeyes are currently a flawed team. Meyer didn’t shy away from that, admitting there are many areas Ohio State has to fix. An imperfect team the Buckeyes are.
But there were plenty of positives to take away from a 34-24 win over Iowa. The offense was virtually unstoppable, amassing 495 yards, and Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde were at their best. After a disastrous first half, the defense clamped down and limited Iowa to 135 yards – 85 coming on one play.
“We have to start fast,” linebacker Curtis Grant said of Saturday night’s showdown with the Nittany Lions. “The defense is at our best when we start fast, and we feed off their momentum. We didn’t do that today and we didn’t put it all together until the second half – that can’t happen.”
Champions vs. Iowa:
Offense: Braxton Miller and Andrew Norwell share player of the game honors. Marcus Hall, Jack Mewhort, Jeff Heuerman, Evan Spencer, Devin Smith, Philly Brown and Carlos Hyde also grade out as champions.
Defense: C.J. Barnett (player of the game) and Doran Grant.
Special Teams: Drew Basil and Devan Bogard.
- Meyer said Bradley Roby's ejection definitely had an impact on the game and defense. He went on to says he’s very concerned about player safety, but Roby's ejection was a gamechanger. Meyer said the NCAA needs to re-look at targeting rule.
- “That rule was not put in for that play.” -Meyer on Roby's targeting ejection.
- As Meye talked about targeting, he worried about being fined. Gene Smith, in back of room, said reporter who asked question would pay it. It elicited hearty laughs from the room.
- Roby isn’t playing at the same level as a year ago, Meyer pointed out. But he believes Roby is keyed for a big game. Meyer thought it was coming vs. Iowa until the early exit.
- Meyer was thrilled with the offense on Saturday. He said it’s the best they’ve played in a while. In particular, he raved about the offensive line. Meyer said Braxton Miller played arguably his best overall game of the season. Very efficient running and throwing.
- Meyer described the Ohio State-Iowa game as two sledgehammers going at one another.
- Saturday night's primetime game with Penn State is an opportunity to shine in front of entire country, Meyer said.
- “We have to be ready, and we will be ready.” –Meyer
- Freshman defensive lineman Michael Hill is injured and could be a medical redshirt, according to Meyer.
- Meyer said the rush defense is where he wants it. Pass defense remains concern, but he’s confident in defense overall. Meyer said he doesn’t see missed tackles as a major flaw in defense this season.
- Meyer said Philly Brown is unquestionably one of the top two or three leaders on the team. Brown took over the halftime speech in the locker room. Meyer said Brown grabbed him by the arm and asked to address the team.
- Ohio State is in the mix when it comes to BCS standings, Meyer said.
- “Embrace it.” -Urban
- Warinner said Marcus Hall is most improved player on the offensive line. He said Hall was average last season. Totally different guy this year. A sign of respect inside the offensive line’s meeting room is three claps. Warinner said Hall got three claps this week.
- Taylor Decker’s progress is what Warinner hoped for. He said Decker’s done well in practice and continues to improve in games.
- Warinner said there’s no dropoff from the four seniors and Decker. “They’re a good five,” he said.
- “That whole group is a bunch of characters." -Warinner on the O-line. He said they are great friends but all very different.
- “They didn't go out to practice and pat themselves on the back. They went out to work.” – Warinner on the offensive line’s attitude last week.
- Warinner said one reason why the offensive has been so efficient is the job of the wide receivers. They’ve been able to block on outside runs, so the Buckeyes are able to run inside and outside. It makes the defense prepare for more.
- Vrabel said Ohio State has to have Joey Bosa along the defensive line. He called him a difference maker. "His core strength, his balance impresses me," Vrabel said.
- The Buckeyes had been so successful on third down this season until the first half of the Iowa game, when Hawkeyes converted seven of nine chances. That changed in second half when Iowa converted one third down.
- “When we can get teams into third-and-long, I like our chances.” -Vrabel
- “They beat the shit out of us.” -Vrabel on the Iowa offensive line in the first half.
- Vrabel said there’s still room to improve on the D-line, especially the pass rush. “I’m going to coach better and they’re going to play better,” he said.
- “Bill O’Brien is a good football coach. He’s going to do whatever he can to keep that football program where they've been for 50 or 60 years.” –Vrabel. He was in New England with O’Brien and said they remain friends.
- Vrabel said Hackenberg has good skills and a strong arm. He's helped by out by good tight ends and skill players (i.e. Alan Robinson).
- "I think it all comes down to confidence and trust. They have a lot of trust in each other that he can throw it in an area, and he’s going to make a play." -Vrabel on relationship between Hackenberg and Robinson