Navy is on deck for Ohio State football, and Urban Meyer took to 97.1 FM's airwaves today to talk Buckeye football in the first coaches show of the 2014 season.
As such, there was much to talk about.
Urban says the final week of practice "has been good," but admits the loss of Braxton is a "major hit." However, there are plenty of "young players" who are capable of stepping up.
Captains are responsible for filling the leadership void of Braxton, according to Meyer. Taylor Decker is a player who Urban identifies as coming on as "a vocal leader." Urban stresses the importance of leadership from the offensive line, as Ohio State is "an offensive line driven program."
Urban admits the offensive line was "unstable" in the spring, but Urban says the line has since solidified. Despite the inexperience, Ohio State will have plenty of fluid, diverse options along the line.
Urban says sophomore Pat Elflein might be the best center on the team, but they can't afford to move him from guard. Jacoby Boren, though talented, is a bit undersized to go against Navy, who puts a "320 lbs guy right over top" of the snapper.
What are some of the biggest challenges freshman meet?
- Homesickness, and "maybe not making the right decisions," are two factors Urban cites, but he knows NCAA's relaxed rules — allowing contact with freshmen for the first time — helped in that transition.
- The speed of the game is another factor, but cites Dante Booker and Joey Bosa as players who weren't affected by the speed of the college game.
Most depth at the offensive line since Urban's arrival?
"I think so," Urban says, but admits "it's one of the most inexperienced groups I've had."
On Daryl Baldwin:
"He was a guy buried on the depth chart everywhere," but "he'll be a success." He could be one of the best guys in pass protection, according to the defensive line. "To see a guy develop like that is neat to see."
On J.T. Barrett:
- "He reminds people a lot of Kenny Guiton."
- "He does everything very well."
- "We haven't had short gains that turn into long plays. We haven't had that."
Who does wide receiver Corey Smith remind Urban of:
- "Somebody ought to write a book on him some day."
- "It wasn't going well for him [in May]. He was 177 lbs. Now, he's 199 lbs. He needs to continue to battle the battles to remain focused. ... To say he's not the most talented receiver; I think he is."
- "Now he's at Ohio State ready to embark on a game-changing career."
Can Ezekiel Elliott pick up where Carlos Hyde left off?
- "Different style of runner... dynamic, explosive guy. He's on the 'can't wait to watch' list."
On Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn being surprises:
- "Rod missed most spring practice due to academic issues. But credit where it's due [for turning things around]. It's his last shot. I hope he makes something out of it."
- "Dunn turned heads with his effort."
- Urban experienced Navy at Notre Dame and Air Force at Utah. First service academy game since he's arrived at Ohio State.
- Navy is "the dominant academy." Academies run the wishbone because they have "disciplined young men." Navy is "very athletic" as a "very good team."
- "[Navy] is obviously a concern."
- "It's a system offense, but that's not fair to their players... This is the best 'personnelled' academy I've faced in my coaching career."
- Urban says the coaching staff has been scheming for Navy since the spring. "A lot of brain power went into this. A lot of time. I love our plan."
- Urban says he was warned to try not to "outscheme" Navy, but to "outplay" them.
- "Our scout team did a wonderful job [preparing Ohio State]... Jalin Marshall played quarterback."
Urban then took calls.
Larry asks a rambling, three-part question about last year's defensive struggles and then signs off with "Love ya, brother."
- Urban admits last season's defense was "abysmal."
- "We've kept a lot of rush principles," but "I'm anticipating a complete overhaul of our pass defense." We won't see the true scheme until Virginia Tech, however.
- On Darron Lee: "A guy from New Albany is starting linebacker at Ohio State... think about that."
- On Josh Perry: "He's a tremendous person. I think he should coach... He's a leader. ... He's got a bright future ahead of him."
- Dante Booker moved up the depth chart via injuries, but he's "right in the mix."
- "We had to replace Mike [Vrabel] with a home run, and I think we did with Larry Jonhnson."
- Adolphus Washington "had his best camp." Says calling him an underachiever is "unfair" to Adolphus, but they're starting to see him reach his potential.
- Rashad Frazier will "for sure" be in the defensive line mix.
A caller immediately calls-in and asks "Hey Urban Meyer, what are we going to do this year on the defensive line, buddy?" [Insert everyone laughing]
Jeff in Tennessee: "Not everyone can come in for Coach Tressel and make him an afterthought. Well, not an afterthought, but you've done a marvelous job... You seem like you enjoy being here... What do you think of the fanbase?... I'm so fired up I can't really talk right now... Love ya brother, go Bucks!"
- Urban says he told Florida's staff Ohio State fans would "find a way" to get into the stadium for the national title game. Raves about Ohio State fans' performance at Bekeley."
- "We have the best student [fans] in the country."
On classes beginning, and Ohio State's rising academic status:
- "We don't cluster our athletes," in classes. "We try to make sure we set our athletes up for life after football."
- "The quality of student walking campus in Columbus is as strong as its ever been... It's a boost for recruiting."
- "The right kid has to come here or he won't survive."
- Jalin Marshall "will be all over the field for us."
- Vonn Bell, Tyvis Powell and Erick Smith all give Ohio State depth at safety.
- Erick Smith is "a little further ahead" of Damon Webb. Says Webb is a "competitor" but he needs to get "stronger and faster."
On the Nick Vannett/Jeff Heuerman tandem and the tight ends:
- Vannett will play "quite a bite."
- Heuerman is a "bit behind" due to injury, but he'll "be a great player for us."
- Marcus Baugh gives added depth as he continues to work his way out of Urban's dog house.
- Sam Hubbard is "floating back and forth" [between tight end and linebacker]. "He's a smart guy. he can handle it."
- "We need to keep recruiting tight ends."