Urban Meyer has an idea who his starting quarterback is going to be moving forward, but he's not ready to let the rest of the Ohio State world into his mind.
"About the quarterback issue, nothing's going to be announced right now," Meyer said as part of his opening statement to the media Monday. "We had a night game obviously. I met with the recruits all day yesterday. I have not had a chance to sit down with the quarterbacks formally and review everything. That will happen today."
Meyer's next media obligation is Tuesday on the Big Ten teleconference. Whether or not he divulges what the plan is at quarterback for his No. 1-ranked Buckeyes' game at Rutgers on Saturday night is up in the air.
The man with three national championship rings and four win streaks of at least 20 games in his coaching career, though, did admit his offense looked better with J.T. Barrett calling the shots Saturday in a 38-10 victory against Penn State.
"I think it ran better (Saturday) in the football game against Penn State," Meyer deadpanned, reminded by a reporter about where the position sat during camp prior to last season.
Barrett was named starter ahead of Cardale Jones when Braxton Miller went down with his second shoulder injury in eight months. The offense "just moved better" with him in there, to quote former offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
"If there's a change, it's always delicate. That one is probably more because of the obvious," Meyer said. "Someone made a comment, 'Do you really care who plays quarterback the other day?' Absolutely, we care. We care who plays guard. It's not number No. 16 and No. 12. Those are people, and those are people we care about deeply."
“If there's a change, it's always delicate. That one is probably more because of the obvious. Someone made a comment, do you really care who plays quarterback the other day? Absolutely, we care. We care who plays guard. It's not number No. 16 and No. 12. Those are people, and those are people we care about deeply.”– Urban Meyer on his QBs
Meyer preaches the same mindset for each player he offers a scholarship and coaches, whether it be at Ohio State or in prior stops at Florida, Utah and Bowling Green. But the Ohio State offense didn't really get rolling against Penn State until the job solely became Barrett's, with the read-option game leading to touchdowns in the red zone and then a big fourth quarter.
"There was a great amount of energy that came back. Kinda of saw where we picked up last year, see the explosive run plays," left guard Billy Price said Monday. "Then you get the crowd behind you and a lot of energy in the stadium. It was just flashbacks to old times."
Old times like when Barrett set the Big Ten record for touchdowns in a season with 45, doing so while not even playing a full 12 games. Times where the then-freshman finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, before Jones filled in due to injury and took the unit to even higher places.
"It takes all 11 guys on the field, from our skill guys making plays, our skill guys blocking, to up front blocking and (Ezekiel Elliott) blocking," Price said. "It takes all 11 guys and whoever makes the right read and executes, that's when things start going well for us."
It takes more than one guy playing quarterback for a play to be successful, but with the seemingly never-ending yo-yoing at the position, where is Ohio State's offense through seven games?
"I don't like that question. I don't like that question at all," Price said. "We're a work in progress. Every game, you take steps. You continue to take steps that make strides."
"I think we have been honestly playing well; I think the issues were turning the ball over and penalties," left tackle Taylor Decker added. "I think we are farther along this time as compared to last year. I feel good about the way we played, I feel good about the direction we’re heading."
The Buckeyes sit atop the Big Ten in scoring average (37.0 points per game), second in total offense (455.6 yards per game), first in rushing (242.1 yards per game) and eighth in passing (213.4 yards per game). Pretty solid numbers, considering Ohio State won two games by seven points each over a three-week period not long ago.
"Part of offensive and defensive football is they're not tin soldiers. So you go out there and practice and get something and get something, and all of a sudden, you get in the game, and they're doing a lot of different things," Meyer said. "That's one thing that slows down an offensive line, and they played pretty much what we thought they would play, and we prepared pretty well for it."
Ohio State ran for 315 yards against Penn State, nearly 200 more than the Nittany Lions were allowing on average through their first six games.
A bulk of that was Barrett (102 yards), but the ability with his legs put the read-option back on the table and Elliott did what he does so well, scoring a touchdown and tallying 153 yards.
Meyer said the unit wasn't very balanced Saturday, something he wasn't exactly pleased with. It came down to what was working, though, and how Ohio State managed things to finish the night with a victory.
That came with Barrett playing quarterback.
"I'm staying neutral to it, we have to execute. Whoever scores, I don't care," Price said. "I'll meet you in the end zone, we'll celebrate and call it a day. For us, for the guys up front, it's take care of it. For the guys in the backfield, take care of the ball, make the right reads, make our lives easy and then we'll just continue to take strides."
"I think we’re farther along than we were this time last year," Decker added. "There’s always going to be a ton of questions and everything, especially when people are gaging us off those last three games. I think we are farther along than where we were."
Ohio State's offense took a step forward Saturday, but Meyer isn't ready to take one and name his quarterback for the eighth game of the season.
"I have not had — once again, we're just behind because of the night game and all that," Meyer said. "And you might not believe this, but my whole day doesn't center on this press conference. So there's a lot of things going on.
"I have an idea (who will start), but I want to make sure I visit with everybody and make sure we're doing the right thing."