Following Ohio State's 56-14 win over Nebraska, Urban Meyer did not make his usual appearance at a Monday press conference, as he and many other Buckeye coaches hit the recruiting trail.
Meyer did make his regularly scheduled appearance on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday afternoon and praised J.T. Barrett's ability and his continuity with wide receivers to open the call.
What follows are the main takeaways from Meyer's time on the conference, as he called in from his recruiting road trip.
Additional Meyer Notes
- Meyer said Sean Nuernberger struggled in the spring, so much so that Ohio State tweaked his strength program. "In the spring, he wasn't hitting the ball at all. But he is getting much stronger."
- Meyer said while he is on the road recruiting, his team is also beginning preparation for Penn State.
- Meyer said all the players who suffered injuries against Nebraska (Jamarco Jones, Parris Campbell, Jalyn Holmes) are "all probable" for the matchup against Penn State.
- He said Jordan Fuller's practice habits have improved, which has translated to his play on the field. "He is playing with a lot of confidence right now."
- Meyer said the coaches have not watched the Nebraska game film together yet, but will when they return from the recruiting trail.
- He said Demetrius Knox graded out a champion in his first career start at right guard. He said Knox showed consistency in practice, which gave him the right to play. He added that Matthew Burrell has to get bigger and stronger. "We are counting on him to be a future player here."
- "We have seen a lot of progress, but are very realistic about the last few games," Meyer said when discussing Ohio State's secondary.
- Meyer praised Ohio State's play calling and wide receiver play as to why he thinks the Buckeyes can continue their consistency on offense.
Ohio State and Nebraska are off this weekend, but there is still plenty of action surrounding the Big Ten, highlighted by a primetime showdown in State College, Pa. between Michigan and Penn State. What follows are highlights from the rest of the Big Ten coaches on the conference call.
Chris Ash (Rutgers)
- Ash said Rutgers has to simplify things on defense when playing Purdue because of the Boilermakers unique offensive formations.
- Ash credits his offensive line and receivers for their improvement in run blocking, which partially led to a win over Illinois.
- Ash said "we would love all of our players to be two-sport athletes" coming out of high school.
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)
- "Talent, ability and experience," are the reasons John O'Korn is Michigan's starting quarterback, according to Harbaugh.
- Harbaugh said his kicker/holder/long-snapper battery is executing at a high level. Kicker Quinn Nordin is 14-of-16 on field goals this season, and a perfect 17-of-17 on extra points.
- Harbaugh praised the atmosphere of Penn State's Beaver Stadium. The Wolverines are the 'White Out' game in Happy Valley this season.
- Harbaugh accused a reporter of asking too many open-ended questions. The question asked pertained to Michigan's quarterback play.
Paul Chryst (Wisconsin)
- Chryst said he was proud of the way his team fought in a 17-9 win over Purdue at home. The Boilermakers had the ball with a chance to tie before the Wisconsin defense held.
- Chryst praised kicker Rafael Gaglianone for his confidence. "When called upon, he'll deliver."
Mark Dantonio (Michigan State)
- Dantonio praised defensive lineman Kenny Willekes. Willekes leads the Spartans in tackles for loss, and is a former walk-on at Michigan State.
- Dantonio was asked just one question on the conference call. The Spartans are set to host Indiana on Saturday at 3:30 on ABC.
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa)
- No questions for Ferentz on the call this week. Iowa is set to travel to Northwestern on Saturday.
P.J. Fleck (Minnesota)
- Fleck praised quarterback Demry Croft, who replaced Conor Rhoda in a loss to Michigan State on Oct. 14. Croft threw three touchdown passes against the Spartans.
- Fleck said Croft accepted coaching well in the loss. "He settled down and got in the role we needed him to do."
- Despite being ranked 106th in the country in passing, Fleck said he believes his team is playing to its strengths, and making strides in the passing game. Added there is a "quarterback duel" in terms of determining a starter for their upcoming game against Illinois.
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern)
- Fitzgerald said he gave his offensive line a pep talk during a win over Maryland. Northwestern trailed after the first quarter, but outscored the Terps 21-7 in the second quarter, eventually winning 37-21.
- He said he allowed his team to have 24 hours to celebrate a win before preparing for Iowa.
- Fitzgerald said "its a very talented group of guys" when talking about the Big Ten running backs. Signaled out Michigan State's LJ Scott and Iowa's Akrum Wadley, who the Wildcats play this week. Northwestern has already taken on Saquon Barkley this season.
DJ Durkin (Maryland)
- Durkin said quarterback Max Bortenschlager has "been very effective" when he makes the right decisions. Added the focus on Bortenschlager has been decision making in the passing game.
- Durkin said "there are times where we need more resolve around us." Maryland has dropped two games in a row following a 3-1 start to the season.
Jeff Brohm (Purdue)
- Brohm said he wanted to establish a "win now" mindset around his football team, while also building for the future. Added, "we still have a long way to go." Purdue plays Rutgers this weekend.
- Brohm said his 2006 loss at Rutgers when coaching at Louisville "crushed our hopes and dreams" of a national championship. He was the quarterbacks coach for the Cardinals when the Scarlet Knights pulled the upset.
- He said Purdue is battling a number of depth issues, which is changing certain things about how his team practices.
James Franklin (Penn State)
- Franklin said he "can't imagine a better running back or playmaker than (Saquon Barkley)," in college football. Gave praise to Stanford's Bryce Love.
- Franklin agreed with Urban Meyer about limiting a team to two road conference night games per season. "It's brutal on the players and coaches."
- He praised Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown. "He doesn't want to give you anything." Franklin coached with Brown at Maryland.
Tom Allen (Indiana)
- Allen said kicker Griffin Oakes has improved, and praised his commitment to losing weight in the offseason. Oakes has hit 7-of-8 kicks this season.
- Allen said changing the culture at Indiana has been challenging when creating an expectation of success when times get hard.
Mike Riley (Nebraska)
- Riley said his talk with new athletic director Bill Moos was "very social." Said the conversation was about the past, and not about the future.
- Riley said his team has practiced and watched film of the Ohio State game on Tuesday to start the bye week. "We just had some good basic football practice with competition."
- Riley said he was impressed with how methodical Ohio State's offense played. "Their production was really high. It was impressive."
Lovie Smith (Illinois)
- Smith did not make an appearance on the teleconference. Illinois is set to play Minnesota on the road this weekend.