Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer admitted Tuesday he wasn't sure what to expect with his team when it traveled to Baltimore for a Week 1 matchup against Navy.
With a trip back to the Old Line State in order this weekend for a matchup against Maryland, Meyer said on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference his comfort level with his team and redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett is "night and day" from where it was just over a month ago.
"You expect with a good kid that works hard and a pretty good system of offense we have so I anticipated that we’d be much better (now), but the comfort level in Game 1 was minimal and that’s just because you don’t know how they’re gonna react when the lights come on in front of a big crowd," Meyer said. "I had a good feeling it wouldn’t turn out good, but a much different feeling now.”
After surrendering over 350 yards through the air to Cincinnati last week, the Terrapins possess a group of talented wide receivers that could bring Ohio State some problems. Meyer spoke to what Maryland brings to the table that could present the Buckeyes with a problem.
"They have three really skilled athletes at receiver and that’s been our Achilles heel now and it’s time to get that fixed and perform well," Meyer said. "Anytime you face a quarterback that can run and I think their leading rusher, if I can remember right, is their quarterback.”
C.J. Brown is the starting quarterback for Maryland and although it's questionable if he will play against the Buckeyes on Saturday, he's a talented, dual-threat option.
Ohio State has done well in recent weeks stopping the run, but questions still remain regarding the Buckeyes' pass defense.
“I evaluated a very well-played game for the majority of the game, but unfortunately, for offense or defense, a couple plays can really disrupt and lose a game obviously," Meyer said. "There were four plays that cost us a lot of yards. Those four plays were significant.”
Meyer went on to add: "I don't think we have a talent problem, I think we have some young corners that need to play better."
One unit that has played better of late for Ohio State is the offensive line. Meyer said Monday the entire unit was last week's player of the game and spoke more in-depth about the O-line during his stint on the teleconference.
"A couple weeks ago we were not an offensive line that we expect at Ohio State," Meyer said. "As of now, as of our last performance we kind of crossed the barrier and we are playing like an offensive line at Ohio State.”
Meyer also noted running back Ezekiel Elliott is one of the "top two or three workers on the team" and said he was key in Ohio State's win, but that the offensive line was a big part in that.
"Like I say the quarterback is a product of those around him certainly the tailback is a product of the quality of the offensive line," Meyer said. "I think he ran very hard, but he was getting to the second level quite often and you get to the second level because of your offensive line.”
The Buckeyes, Michigan State and Wisconsin are the final three teams which will make their Big Ten debuts this weekend. Ohio State enters conference play riding a 16-game regular-season league winning streak (excluding last year's Big Ten Championship game loss to the Spartans).
The marquee matchup in the Big Ten this weekend features No. 17 Nebraska traveling to East Lansing to take on No. 10 Michigan State. The game will be played at 8 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.
In addition to Meyer, the conference's other 13 coaches spoke briefly Tuesday on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference. Here are some quick notes on what each had to say:
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern):
- "There's been one consistent identity with Wisconsin football and that's physical toughness. ... You know this, when you play Wisconsin you better have some extra air in your helmet and your chin strap a little tighter."
- On Northwestern's maturity as a team: "I would say we're a work in progress. ... We're too inconsistent with the little things."
Brady Hoke (Michigan):
- In Hoke's opening statement he said he's not going to comment further on the situation regarding Shane Morris: "We put out a statement and I'm going to let that speak for itself."
- Hoke declined to say when he and athletic director Dave Brandon met regarding Shane Morris' concussion.
- Hoke on his relationship with Brandon: "We are working toward the same goal. We are supportive of one another."
- "I just feel bad for Shane that he's had to go through this situation. He's kind of been put in the middle of it."
- Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press asked Hoke point blank if he's actually spoken with Brandon in the last 48 hours and Hoke said, "There's no question about it."
Gary Andersen (Wisconsin):
- Andersen noted that there isn't a current player on Wisconsin's team that has played in Evanston. Said it will be a "new venue" for the Badgers.
- Andersen said injured quarterback Joel Stave was involved in some reps last week and that will continue into this week.
Bo Pelini (Nebraska):
- "It should be a great environment and I know our kids are excited to play."
- On Michigan State's Connor Cook: "He gets better every week. I think he's very comfortable in the offense and knows where to go with the football. He has a really good handle of what they're trying to do offensively. I think he's a really good player."
- Pelini on player safety: "I've never been around a coach and I'm sure there's no coach in our conference that would put someone out there that got hurt. ... Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong."
Mark Dantonio (Michigan State):
- On Shilique Calhoun: "Shilique's just an extremely hard worker. From Day 1 when he walked in here he set his mind that he was always gonna get better."
- On Marcus Rush: "If he stays uninjured the rest of his career here he will have started more games than any other player in Michigan State history which is quite an accomplishment."
- "They're an outstanding offense. It'll be a great challenge, a tremendous challenge for us this weekend to stop Nebraska."
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa):
- Ferentz said it's important to focus on the team's run defense as opposed to pass defense: "It's just a bad feeling when you can't stop the run. It's a sinking feeling."
Jerry Kill (Minnesota):
- "In this off week, we need to get some guys healthy and that's very, very important to us."
- On Minnesota's defense: "I think they're playing well right now and doing it with a lot of different people that are performing well. I think our big thing on the defensive side is staying healthy and I think we'll continue to get better."
- On the hit on Michigan's Shane Morris: "It's a full-speed game and so forth and it's a situation where they called it a personal foul and a late hit and I understand that. ... but there wasn't anything intentional or anything like that at all."
Kyle Flood (Rutgers):
- Flood said he thinks Michigan is better than its 2-3 record would indicate.
- "There's no doubt that the team that runs the ball and stops the run better will have the chance to win this football game."
- On process of injuries in college football, Flood said he wouldn't use the word "difficult to keep track of players who are hurt. "I think when there's an injury, the first player that has to be told is the head coach."
Tim Beckman (Illinois):
- If Illinois were playing today, would quarterback Wes Lunt be able to play? "Yes."
- On Illinois' concussion protocol: "The head trainer comes to me immediately and lets me know there's a situation."
Randy Edsall (Maryland):
- Edsall on Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa: "He's very athletic. He plays with a high motor and he has the ability to make a lot of plays. I'm very impressed with him and their whole front four is pretty good."
- Edsall said his defense has given up a lot of yards this year, but hasn't given up a ton of points outside of the West Virginia game. Terrapins have also forced 11 turnovers on the season.
- On what the atmosphere is expected to be like: "It'll be sold out, it'll be electric, it'll be loud. It'll be a great day, I just hope we do the things that we need to do against an outstanding football team to give ourselves the opportunity to be able to win."
- Edsall was asked if quarterback C.J. Brown, who has a sprained wrist, will play against the Buckeyes: "We'll find out on Saturday."
Darrell Hazell (Purdue):
- "We played a good Iowa team last week. Each week our team gets a little bit better, but we just need to take that next step."
James Franklin (Penn State):
- "The bye week is coming at a great time for us. With our lack of depth this is good for us."
- Franklin said with the bye week, he and his staff will be on the road recruiting Thursday through Saturday.
- On injury situations: "I think it's everybody's responsibility here at Penn State. ... Everybody's gotta take some responsibility with it."
Kevin Wilson (Indiana):
- On last week's loss to Maryland following an upset of Missouri: "It's a disappointing loss, but we're looking forward to see if our guys can bounce back the right way."