B1G Teleconference: Urban Meyer Expects Both Erick Smith And Jordan Fuller To Play At Safety

By James Grega on August 29, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Urban Meyer

Technically, the 2017 college football season is already underway. 

However, the first Big Ten conference game of the season is set for Thursday night when Ohio State travels to Bloomington, Ind. to take on the Hoosiers. 

Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer joined the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday afternoon in his last media appearance before the primetime matchup against Indiana to preview the contest. 

Meyer said playing premier opponents in the non-conference can help accelerate a teams growth, but as the season nears, he added the Buckeyes have been put in game situations already in live scrimmages at practice. 

"We put them in as many situations as we can to see how they perform," Meyer said. 

The Buckeye head coach also added that he expects Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller to play at the open safety spot left vacant by Malik Hooker. The two have been competing for the starting job since spring practice. 

Additional Meyer notes

  • Meyer said that Ohio State is a combination of both young and veteran players and he expects to get more of a feel for his team towards the midway point of the season. 
  • Meyer said he is looking to always recruit hybrid players at the tight end and wide receiver position, players that he can move around on the offensive side of the ball. 
  • Meyer said he is confident in the veterans and defensive line as the season starts. He added the inexperienced secondary and wide receivers are his biggest concerns.
  • He said that despite Joe Burrow being injured, he still has confidence in Dwayne Haskins. Added Tate Martell is an exciting player to have on the roster. Meyer said there is no plan to play Haskins with the starting offense.
  • Meyer said there is "no seniority" on the Ohio State roster when it comes to playing time. The best player is going to play, he added. 

Ohio State and Indiana are the only two Big Ten conference members playing a conference game this week, but there are plenty of other premier games that feature Big Ten teams in Week 1. 

Michigan, ranked No. 11 in the country, is set to play No. 17-ranked Florida at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday in the AdvoCare Classic. Rutgers opens at home against No. 8-ranked Washington on Friday at 8 p.m., and Maryland is set to travel to Austin, Texas, to take on the Longhorns on Saturday at noon. 

What follows are the some of the highlights from the first teleconference of the season. 

Tom Allen (Indiana)

  • Allen described the situation of going up against Kevin Wilson as "unique." Added that they have watched film of their own offense from a season ago to prepare for Ohio State. 
  • Allen said his defense is going to lean on its secondary. Added his biggest concern on offense and defense is line play up front. 
  • On J.T. Barrett, Allen said he respects Barrett's toughness. "He makes plays when they need him to. He finds a way to make things happen," Allen said. 
  • Allen said preparing for Ohio State's defensive line is something "that keeps you up at night."
  • On opening the season against Ohio State, Allen said the excitement level around Bloomington, Ind. is high. Acknowledged that Kevin Wilson being on the other sideline adds to the anticipation. 

Chris Ash (Rutgers) 

  • Ash announced that Minnesota transfer Andrew Harte will be the starting kicker for the Scarlet Knights in the season opener against Washington. 
  • Ash added that Rutgers will start true freshman Bill Taylor at long snapper.
  • When asked about Washington quarterback Jake Browning, Ash said he thinks the signal caller is a Heisman contender. Added he wants to force Browning to make throws into tight windows. 

Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)

  • When asked about linebacker Mike McCray, Harbaugh said he has been pleased with how McCray has battled back from injuries throughout his career. "He has taken coaching extremely well," Harbaugh added.
  • Harbaugh on playing Florida in the season opener: "You will have a better understanding of where your team is after playing a top-notch opponent."
  • Harbaugh praised freshmen wide receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black. "They are guys that are mature beyond their years," Harbaugh said.

Mike Riley (Nebraska) 

  • Riley said coming from an offensive background, he thinks the 3-4 defense is more difficult to prepare for, which is why he prefers to run that scheme with his team. Adds that it opens up doors to recruit more athletic players for an additional linebacker position. 

Mark Dantonio (Michigan State)

  • Dantonio started with an opening statement sending his thoughts and prayers to those in Houston while also mentioning the passing of legendary basketball coach Jud Heathcote. 
  • When asked about what he learned from coaching with Nick Saban, Dantonio said, "Nick Saban is at the forefront of who I am (now) as a defensive coach."
  • Dantonio said he hopes Michigan State can rotate four corners on defense this season. 

Kirk Ferentz (Iowa)

  • ​Ferentz said Nathan Stanley won the starting quarterback job because he gives the Hawkeyes the best chance to win. 
  • Ferentz praised running back and Nevada transfer James Butler during the teleconference. "He has lost about 10 pounds, but he is still strong and moving well. He is an excellent teammate. That was a good development for us."

P.J. Fleck (Minnesota)

  • Fleck said offensive lineman Garrison Wright, who has been battling an injury, is ready to play in the season opener Thursday night against Buffalo. 
  • Fleck said he used to send letters to Div. 1 coaches about his desire to be a coach. Said Mark Richt and Joe Paterno were the two that always responded to him. Said he wants to be just as receptive with his players. 
  • Fleck said the biggest challenge so far at Minnesota has been changing the culture and mindset and convincing people within the program that the Golden Gophers can win championships. 

Lovie Smith (Illinois)

  • When asked about rebuilding a program, Smith said it's important to stick to a plan, but also not expect results immediately. "You have to stick with a plan you really believe in," Smith said.
  • Smith said his players have "bought in fully," to him and his coaching staff as he enters his second season with the Illini. 

DJ Durkin (Maryland)

  • Durkin praised the talent on the roster for Texas, Maryland's week 1 opponent. Said his staff has watched film of where the new Longhorns staff has been in the past.

Jeff Brohm (Purdue)

  • Brohm opened with a statement expressing his excitement about the season opener against No. 16 Louisville at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday night. 
  • Brohm said he will play some starters on special teams. Added slowing down the Cardinal's return game is a focus in practice. 
  • On Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, "He deserved the Heisman last year, and I think he is the front-runner this year." Brohm added Jackson's passing ability surprised him.
  • Brohm said he was a fan of the NCAA eliminating two-a-day practices. Said that the extra practices aren't needed with so much practice time in spring ball. 

James Franklin (Penn State)

  • Franklin praised Curtis Cothran's ability at defensive tackle. "We think he can be a playmaker at the defensive tackle position," Franklin said. 
  • When asked about backup quarterback Tommy Stevens getting meaningful reps, Franklin downplayed the idea. "There are just too many factors and variables. We don't have a series or a set of plays assigned for him to get in," Franklin said. 
  • Franklin said he is still of the belief that the Big Ten champion should always be in the College Football Playoff.

Paul Chryst (Wisconsin)

  • Chryst was not asked any questions in his window on the teleconference. The Badgers open the season against Utah State on Friday at 9 p.m. ET. 

Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern)

  • Fitzgerald said he has a handful of players on his roster from the Houston area. Said families of the players are currently safe.
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