After a successful off week, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer took to 97.1 The Fan's airwaves with Paul Keels and Jim Lachey on Thursday to discuss all things Buckeye football and preview the tilt against Penn State.
On what's stood out about his team the last five weeks:
- "That we're playing Penn State," Meyer joked.
- "The weakness exposed in our team early on is very much improved."
- "I like the progress, but we'll find out."
- "We're living in March Madness now," where every game matters.
Meyer thinks off weeks in Week 6, 7, or 8 is the opportune time in the season.
COFFEE WITH THE COACH QUESTION from JAMES in NAPOLEON: How do you practice in preparation for bad weather forecasts?
- "We wet the balls down at times through the year."
- It's tough to gauge though, because forecasts change.
- Also noted the Horseshoe makes it tough with swirling winds, which can't be replicated.
- "At the end of the day, kickers that are tough guys are going to be fine. Quarterbacks that are tough guys are going to be fine."
It's "critical" to recruit guys like Tuf Borland. "He's as valuable to me as anyone on the team." His ascension has allowed Ohio State to go easy on Chris Worley's rehab.
Meyer likes his punt gunners, but nobody is on the level of Devin Smith, Gareon Conley, or Vonn Bell. "Knock on wood, we haven't given up a punt return, though."
Once again called the receivers "selfless" and "the best group I've had from top to bottom."
"To have NFL receivers come talk to our team, I'm not sure about that. It's a different mentality here." He vetted Brian Hartline before hiring him. "He's tough and selfless. The kind of guy we want around our guys."
On J.T. Barrett:
- "One of the most unique players I've ever been around."
- Meyer noted he's been blessed with quarterbacks from Josh Harris at Bowling Green to Braxton Miller.
- "They're leaders. They're tough as nails. They raise the talent of those around them. J.T. Barrett is just like that."
- Lachey said Wednesday in practice, Parris Campbell beat Marcus Williamson on a double move. Afterwards, Barrett went over to Williamson and broke down the play for him.
- "I joke about [Barrett] being a coach, but he's certainly going to be a coach." Told him he has a job for him when he hangs up his cleats.
On Penn State:
- "Their skill level is among the best in the nation."
- "Very creative offense" after changing it two years ago.
- "They do run-pass options, which means they can always kick the ball out to that tight end [Mike Gesicki]."
- First 4-3 front team they've faced this year. Bring pressure about 43% of the time.
- "Probably the best secondary we've faced this year."
- "They're a Fire Zone defense, and they're very good at it."
JAKE in GAHANNA: What happens on night road games after the lights go off?
- "We get home between anywhere from 2 to 4 in the morning."
- Meyer takes a car home from the airport while players have to wait for luggage.
- Noted players can't "take Sunday off," because of academic responsibilities.
- Thinks once the league looks at the schedules of night games, they'll agree to work with the networks to cap road night games at two.
ANDRE in INDIANAPOLIS: Do you shorten your rotation in big games?
- "I don't micromanage... especially on defense."
- "But I would agree, in a bigger game, you're going to have your A+'s in there."
- "The good news is, we have some quality depth on the defensive line."
- "With the offensive line, zero depth. Zero depth."
On the scout team this week:
- "Tate Martell and Demario McCall helped our defense this week."
- Short in depth on receiver, especially with Jaylen Harris being dinged up.
- Depth on defensive line is outstanding, though.
- Lauded Mark Pantoni and Tim Hinton for their connections through the state in bringing in quality walk-ons. "You know right away if a guy can contribute."
On alternate jerseys:
- "Penn State brings pressure 40% of the time on first down."
- Claimed to have not seen the jerseys.
Message to Ohio high school players in Week 10: "I can't remember to get on [Route] 315 North or South half the time, but I can tell you every play of my senior year of high school."
Noted this will likely be the last game for his son, Nate, who plays at Bishop Watterson and will play baseball at Cincinnati next year.
[Full replay available at 971thefan.com]