Just how impressed is Urban Meyer with Rod Smith’s 11-second block against Navy?
After practice Wednesday, the Ohio State head coach invited a handful of media members into the team’s meeting room to watch film of the play. Over and over, Meyer, clicker in hand and with a wide smile on his face, replayed the clip of Smith beating down a defender on an otherwise trivial punt return.
“It was one of the greatest efforts I've ever seen on a play,” Meyer said Monday. “For 11 seconds, he locked down a defender and then knocked him down at the end of the play. One of the greatest plays I've ever seen.”
For Smith, it was a moment of on-field success that earned him a standing ovation after Meyer showed the film of the play to the team.
“I thought the play was still going, I ain’t hear a whistle. That’s what we teach, go 4 to 6, point A to point B. That’s how long it’s usually supposed to last, but it went longer so you just gotta keep going,” he said.
“I was like, ‘I just messed him up.’ I defeated his will, that’s what we call it around here. I defeated his will, so he didn’t have too much to say.”
On the flip side, Meyer, if you let him, could gush about the play for what seems like an eternity. He’s obsessed with it and called the effort one of the finest in his coaching career.
“Rod Smith had the play of the day,” Meyer said. “And the way we do our business here, that entitled him some carries.”
But for Smith, touches haven’t come easily. Whether it’s been playing second-fiddle to Carlos Hyde or off-field issues, his career hasn’t lived up to the buzz that accompanied the former four-star recruit. Coming out of high school, Smith was touted by some as the second coming of Eddie George with his tall, muscular frame. That hasn’t happened.
But Smith’s heroic special teams play offered Meyer a chance to gush about Smith for something other than missed opportunities or his struggles in the classroom.
For the first time in what’s seemed like a while, Smith got singled out for the right reason.
“It’s just good to hear that I’m noticed and that I can contribute other than on offense. It was good to get called out, but at the same time you just help out the team any way you can,” he said.
Still, Smith is competing with sophomore Ezekiel Elliott and freshman Curtis Samuel for playing time at running back.
“It’s real hard. You can’t just come out there in one day, you’ve gotta like be consistent. I definitely feel like I’ve been consistent throughout camp, you know what I’m saying, to get right going into this season so I’ve just gotta keep doing it,” he said.
In turn, Smith could find a role on an Braxton Miller-less offense in need as many playmakers as it can get.
And for Meyer, who can't get over or get enough of Smith's effort on the play, it's a real reason to smile.