With Illinois deposited in the bank, and the de facto Big Ten title game looming, Urban Meyer joined former All-American Jim Lachey and the voice of the Buckeyes, Paul Keels, on the airwaves of 97.1 The Fan for Urban Meyer Coach's call-In show.
Scandal: Urban Meyer didn't appear until the 19th-minute of his weekly hour-long media appearance due to being double-booked for an ESPN interview.
Eli Apple has a hamstring knock, but should be "good to go" in practice today.
Urban said he never has to "push this team out of the locker room," and it doesn't matter if it's a nooner at Maryland or primetime in East Lansing... this team has been ready to go.
J.T. Barrett missed some throws last week. Urban said J.T. throwing high showed nerves, but he settled down. "I like the way Tom Herman is coaching him." J.T. Barrett is never satisfied, which is the mark of a great quarterback.
Urban agreed with a caller last week:"Gotta get [Cardale Jones] reps." OSU finally got Cardale in the game throwing; he played "very good" against Illinois.
Steve Miller graded out as a champion against Illinois. Urban said he's "a grinder," which he appreciates. Dropped an anecdote of getting a report about Miller going to study immediately after arriving home at 4:30 a.m. after the Penn State game. Puts in "hours and hours" of academic work in.
"Really gotta get going with some backups along the defensive line."
"[MSU puts] a lot of pressure on their cornerbacks... and back-end players, but they perform very well."
Urban lauded the defense against Illinois. They're creating turnovers.
Urban likes what he sees out of Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel. "Good people who come from good families... energy givers." "If you can go out and recruit nothing but energy givers... that's a good day."
"Taylor Decker is playing as good football as he's ever played... the [offensive] line is getting much better."
Urban Meyer said they need Michael Thomas to show up this weekend. He used to be a bad practice guy, but he's now practicing seriously. "Now he's being very protective about his routes, which we'll need this weekend."
"To win this game... we'll have to open up a LITTLE bit."– Urban F. Meyer
"There's nothing we'd like to be more than a non-conservative offensive." OSU finally have skill-position depth to do that.
Is third-and-one still a worry: Putting J.T. Barrett under center in short-yardage situations is still a concern for Urban because Ohio State spends 99% of its time in shotgun. "Doesn't mean we will not do it," but cited Penn State losing to Maryland on a botched 4th quarter snap when Christian Hackenberg went under center.
"Throw it down the field, throw it down the field... oh, and we need to quarterback sneak more. Let me write that down," Urban said, making light of some of the refrains he hears from fans.
A caller, who self-identifies as a former coach, says J.T. Barrett is "the best ball handler" he's seen since Rex Kern. "The way he rides a guy into the line [on the option] and knows when to pitch it... somebody's doing a good job coaching him." Urban calls J.T. a "meticulous guy."
Does Urban and his coaching staff feel pressure to call a "near perfect game" on both sides of the ball, as will be necessary against Michigan State? And how do they keep 18-22 year-olds focused?
Urban doesn't address the pressure, but delved into the utility of preparation this week. "We have a lot of guys starting that have never been in this situation." The only way that player bombs, however, is if he wasn't prepared.
OSU is so good on special teams because, it "practices that so hard."
"I think we have some confident players... but we also have some players we'll need to make sure are ready to go."
Devin Smith is the best gunner "in the United States of America," according to Urban. Smith will "definitely" play on the next level, and scouts rave to Urban about Smith's special teams play.
Bri'onte Dunn is "still a week away," but Warren Ball had a "very good week of practice."
Taking away the Navy game, OSU has the No. 2 rush defense in country. But Urban said the true mark of his defense line is their prowess against the pass as well.
"Our linebackers are very good... but we don't have depth."
"There's a big part of us that likes to go on the road." Ohio State will have to run the ball and stop the run if they want a chance against Michigan State.
"When the foot hits the ball... it's about execution."
Urban called the team's leadership "pretty good, but we can always be better." Said it's a button he's going to push this week. "Talk to me after the game."
Full replay available at 97TheFan.com.