Urban Meyer Says Ohio State Not Limited in Play Calling, Previews Primetime Matchup With Nebraska

By Tim Shoemaker on November 1, 2016 at 2:03 pm
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer strolls the sidelines at Wisconsin.

There has been quite a bit of discussion about Ohio State's offensive play calling over the last few weeks.

One thing that hasn't really been talked about in regards to that, though, is whether or not the Buckeyes are limited in what they can call based on the amount of roster turnover they had in the offseason.

Ohio State lost eight offensive starters from its 2015 team, but Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches weekly teleconference that has not had an effect on the way both he and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner called plays so far this season.

"I'm not sure limited is the right answer," Meyer said. "We're not quite as explosive as we'd like to be. We're still calling them, but we're just maybe not executing the big hits.

"I don't think so in the playcalling, it's more the execution of it."

The Buckeyes will certainly like to hit some of those explosive plays Saturday when they welcome ninth-ranked Nebraska to Ohio Stadium. The matchup with the Cornhuskers will certainly be challenging for an Ohio State team looking to add another big-time win to its resume.

"It's just a very well-coached team that has great players," Meyer said of Nebraska. "They're a top-10 team for a reason and No. 1 is players and No. 2 is their coaches put them in a great position to be successful."

Additional Meyer notes:

  • Meyer on balance of taking what the defense gives you vs. forcing balls downfield with chance at explosive plays: "That's exactly the way we play. We don't force balls here, we just don't do that." 
  • Meyer on linebacker Chris Worley: "He's a leader. He's one of the heart and souls of our team who gives everything he's got."
  • Meyer on Ezekiel Elliott's NFL start: "I have not gotten to watch him, but I've seen a few highlights. I know he's killing it and he went to a great place."
  • Meyer on linebacker Raekwon McMillan: "Raekwon is one of the most mature people I've ever seen come walking into a program as a young person."
  • Meyer on linebacker Dante Booker and why he hasn't played since he was medically cleared: "I'm not sure he's 100 percent yet."
  • Meyer on Ohio State's uniforms for Saturday: "It's a tradition that's been going on here for a few years. Fans love it, recruits love it. I'm going to check them out today, though."
  • Meyer on the big recruiting weekend and his hectic schedule: "It's ridiculous. It's just as you could imagine. It's going to be a 65 degree in Columbus, Ohio and what better way to showcase your program?"
  • Meyer on freshman wide receiver Binjimen Victor: "He's a big, fast guy and has great ball skills. He just has to continue to remember the speed of the game. He's one of the more talented guys I've seen at his age."

Wisconsin knocked off Nebraska last weekend, 23-17 in overtime, in the Big Ten's marquee matchup while Michigan finally defeated in-state rival Michigan State.

The Huskers are at the forefront of Saturday's conference slate, as well, as they travel to Columbus for a primetime showdown with Ohio State. Iowa at Penn State is another Big Ten matchup to watch this weekend.

In addition to Meyer, the Big Ten's other 13 head coaches gathered Tuesday on their weekly teleconference. Some highlights of what each had to say can be viewed below.

Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern):

  • Fitzgerald was asked about being a longtime coach at a place and how he deals with speculation to go elsewhere: "When you have success, I think that's the natural progression from the media. They're going to talk about you, your program," he said. "When you don't have success, the outside noise is you should be fired, your staff should be fired. That's kind of the nature of the beast today and you can't worry about that."
  • Fitzgerald: "I think we're very average."
  • Fitzgerald on what's changed in the Big Ten since he arrived at Northwestern: "I think it's changed a lot. We're playing more primetime games, there's more exposure for our league. Our universities have done a tremendous job supporting our programs."

Jim Harbaugh (Michigan):

  • Harbaugh on winning on the road in the Big Ten: "It's a very tough task."
  • "The impressive thing about the Maryland squad is they're playing great team football."
  • Harbaugh on his trip to Wrigley Field: "It was just a tremendous atmosphere. It was a signature moment for me, my mad, my mom and my wife. I've never seen anything like that.... It was an A+++ atmosphere."
  • Harbaugh on former coordinator and Maryland coach DJ Durkin: "I have great respect and admiration for DJ. We've been pulling really hard for the Terps all season in every game they've played. That won't be the case this weekend."
  • Harbaugh on Michigan's top-ranked pass defense: "Good scheme, good team defense. It starts up front with the defensive line, that's really the backbone of our team."
  • Harbaugh on tonight's CFP rankings: "I'm not going to be able to work that into our preparations for Maryland. We'll be doing other things. Not to say we won't check them, it takes about 15 seconds to see where you are and we aspire to be as good as we can be."
  • Harbaugh on wide receiver Amara Darboh: "I think he's at the highest level right now of college players playing the receiver position."

Paul Chryst (Wisconsin):

  • Chryst: "Really proud of what our team has done and accomplished to this point."
  • Chryst on Nebraska defensive back Nate Gerry: "He came up with some big plays against us and that just confirms what we thought going in: He's a very good player."
  • Chryst on College Football Playoff rankings: "At the end of four weeks you can look up and see where you're at."

Mike Riley (Nebraska):

  • Riley on Ohio State tight end Marcus Baugh: "He's one more new added weapon to their arsenal. When they have a good inside receiver, that always makes it a little more interesting on how you're going to play pass coverage."
  • Riley on the importance of having the Foltz family around this season: "I think for our team, coaches and all the people here at Nebraska, it's very comforting to be able to see them and have them around."
  • On quarterback Tommy Armstrong's interceptions: "That's probably the biggest focal point from a year ago and believe it or not, it's better. We've made improvements in the whole turnover ratio."
  • Riley was asked about potential differences in the passing games between Ohio State, Nebraska: "There's almost some more similarities in some of the stuff we're trying to do."
  • Riley was asked if having a dual-threat quarterback like Armstrong helps in preparation for J.T. Barrett: "Back in spring and fall camp, we hope that work we did those times with our best players going against each other pays off. One of our goals was to make it not so difficult when you're trying to defend a guy like J.T."
  • Riley on the improvement of Nebraska's defense: "We are a lot better right now in almost all ways statistically. We haven't given up as many big plays."

Mark Dantonio (Michigan State):

  • Dantonio on quarterback Tyler O'Conner: "He's an outstanding leader and he has been prepared for this. He's seen this program for four years and it's very difficult when you go through a situation like this when you are the quarterback."
  • Dantonio on the chemistry between Michigan State's three quarterbacks: "There's been no issues there."

Kirk Ferentz (Iowa):

  • Ferentz on the matchup with Penn State: "We've got a big week in front of us."
  • Ferentz on the success of his teams on the road over the years: "It comes down to whatever team plays the best on whatever field you're on."
  • Ferentz was asked how much the Big Ten has changed since he got to the league. "I'm not so sure how much it has changed," he said. "This conference has always had really good coaches and really good individual players."

Tracy Claeys (Minnesota):

  • Claeys: "We were very fortunate we were able to go on the road and win a game in the conference and become bowl eligible with that win."
  • More Claeys on bowl eligibility: "The bowl thing is all about consistency and I think it shows you're consistent. ... We have bigger goals than that."
  • Claeys on the Big Ten West: "There's three or four of us there at the top that are bunched together and the one who plays the best and wins the most game here in November is going to have a chance to go to Indianapolis."

Chris Ash (Rutgers):

  • Ash on bye week: "We had a chance to do a lot of self-scouting and figure out where we're at with our program."
  • Ash on Rutgers' recruiting in Florida: "If we can get good players that contribute to our success on Saturdays then it's very important to us."

Lovie Smith (Illinois):

  • Smith: "We haven't played our best ball yet. We've lost the last couple games and we need to find a way to win a ballgame, it's as simple as that."
  • Smith on the Illinois quarterback situation: "There's a chance Wes Lunt could get back in there."

DJ Durkin (Maryland):

  • Durkin on Michigan: "They're a tremendously talented team and very well-coached."
  • Durkin on Michigan's pass defense: "They have very good personnel, they're playing hard and playing together."
  • Durkin on Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis: "I think he's one of the best corners in the country."
  • Durkin on what he's learned from Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh: "There are a lot of things I can take away from those experiences that can help me any given week. ... There are plenty of things I've learned about coaching in general."

Gerad Parker (Purdue):

  • Parker: "We played a very disappointing second half against Penn State."
  • Parker: "I've been very open in the changes we've made, we've went through a lot of changes some little some big, and our players have embraced it."

James Franklin (Penn State):

  • Franklin was asked if things ever got too tough prior to win over Ohio State. "You don't have times for those kinds of moments. You control the things that you can control."
  • Franklin on Iowa: "On offense, they don't make mistakes. That's something they do extremely well."
  • Franklin on the pulse of Penn State right now: "I think the biggest change has been external and not internal."

Kevin Wilson (Indiana):

  • Wilson on potential bowl eligibility: "We're not pointing and stressing to that, we're pointing to Rutgers. We're just talking more about the week and this game than what the season upholds." 
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