Much to the chagrin of coach Urban Meyer, nagging injuries are plaguing Ohio State.
“We’re going through the camp blues, it’s a hard time, it’s the dog days or whatever you call it. The hard knocks. And that’s what’s going on right now,” Meyer said Saturday.
“The good thing is, we’ve had minimal ending injuries and the negative is there’s no consistency because of nagging injuries. That’s the only dilemma that I’m facing right now.”
Meyer, though, said he likes where his Buckeyes are at with two weeks left before the team’s season opener against Navy Aug. 30 in Baltimore.
“They’re fighting through it, there’s been no issues within the team issues, no chemistry issues, no alignment issues. It’s actually been very positive in that regard,” he said. “We’ve had great weather, sometimes you wish you’d get a little more heat but it’s been great practice weather, great demeanours and we’re not gonna practice tomorrow, they deserve that. They’ve earned that.”
- Meyer lamented injuries for much of his relatively brief press conference. On top of concern over the health of senior quarterback Braxton Miller, the cornerback position has been hit the hardest. “We have some health issues at corner right now, Doran (Grant) has had a great training camp, I didn’t scrimmage him today. He had a tight hamstring. Gareon Conley has a sore back, I didn’t scrimmage him and he was doing great. Marshon Lattimore has a tight hamstring, he didn’t go. There’s three guys right there and Armani (Reeves) had had tight hamstrings. You just gotta get everybody fresh and that’s supposed to happen next week.”
- Meyer said Jeff Heuerman has been fairly limited in practice while still recovering from foot surgery back in the spring. Nick Vannett, Meyer said, has impressed him in his absence.
- Meyer said starting spots on the offensive line are as follows: Taylor Decker, Pat Elflein, Darryl Baldwin. Center and the other guard spot remain up for grabs: “Jacoby Boren, Joel Hale, Chase Farris, Billy Price battling for the next two. Tony Underwood is in there as well. That’s kind of where we’re at.” Meyer added Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay his a “dinged” shoulder, but finds himself in the mix.
- Meyer said backup quarterback J.T Barrett moved “slightly” ahead of fellow backup Cardale Jones. Meyer on Barrett: “Just functionality, completely passes, understanding everything, growing up a little bit, he was always kind of a quiet guy, he’s starting to act like a quarterback.”
- Meyer said senior cornerback Doran Grant has stepped up and is “probably like an All-Big Ten corner.”
- Meyer said Ohio State’s defensive overhaul is going as planned. “The biggest issue is the ability to think from the backend forward, which hasn’t really been done here and really not many places. College football is all stop the run, run the ball. And you’re facing some very good throwing teams or you have a Sammy Watkins that you need to get more than one hand on him. We have the ability to do that now.” Meyer said he likes how defensive coordinators Chris Ash and Luke Fickell work together.
- Meyer on safety depth: “You’ve got Cam Burrows, Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell and Erik Smith’s right on their toes. Ron Tanner would be the fifth.”
- Meyer said he hopes this year’s class has more “immediate impact” players who contribute coming right out of high school. “Instant impacts, actually, a little disappointed. Last year’s class, we should’ve had more impacts. This year, I’m seeing a little bit more chance for that. But it’s not the players’ faults, I think we had to push them actually a little faster.” Meyer said Vonn Bell should’ve played earlier last year. He added that Joey Bosa, of course, stood out among members of the freshman class. “Once again, we gotta get them out there and play and get them involved, because there’s some very good players.”
- Meyer said senior backups Steve Miller and Rashad Frazier will fill the hole left by starting defensive end Noah Spence, who will miss the first two games after failing a drug test last winter. Meyer added freshman Jalyn Holmes “is really making a push right now.”
- Meyer gushed about junior defensive tackle Tommy Schutt: “(He’s) the most improved player at Ohio State right now. He’s done a really, really good job. So I mean, you start seeing people like that step up along with Darryl Baldwin. I put those two just, they were non-factors a year ago and now they’re gonna be deep into the mix offensively and defensively.
- Meyer said sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott is back in the rotation at practice in a non-contact manner. Elliott had wrist surgery last Saturday. In his absence, senior running back Rod Smith and redshirt sophomore Bri’onte Dunn have stepped up. “I give credit to Bri’onte and Rod Smith, every day they’ve showed up and they’ve worked their tails off so they’re in the mix,” Meyer said. So is freshman Curtis Samuel.