Ohio State Preparing For “One of the Best Middle Linebackers” Urban Meyer Has Ever Seen in Iowa's Josey Jewell

By James Grega on November 1, 2017 at 10:12 pm
Josey Jewell
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Urban Meyer called Penn State running back Saquon Barkley one of the best, if not the best, all-purpose backs he has ever coached against. 

One week later, Meyer is preparing for an elite player on the other side of the ball in Iowa middle linebacker Josey Jewell. 

Jewell has finished second in the Big Ten in tackles in both 2015 and 2016 and currently leads the conference in stops despite missing a game against Northwestern due to an injury.

Meyer gushed over the senior middle linebacker when asked for his impressions of Jewell earlier this week.

"He is outstanding. I have watched him because we have had crossover film. It seems like he has been there a long time. I love him. He is an Iowa 'backer, man," Meyer said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday. "I just have so much respect for Iowa, I always have. I think they play football the right way. (Jewell is) a tremendous player.”

While Meyer has faced Iowa just once as Ohio State's head coach (a 2013 win over the Hawkeyes 34-24 in Columbus), he has not made a trip to Iowa City since 1986, when he was a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes under Earle Bruce. 

He has, however, prepared for premier linebackers from Iowa before. Meyer compared Jewell's ability to that of former Hawkeye star linebacker Chad Greenway, who Meyer coached against in the 2006 Outback Bowl while the head man at Florida. 

“(Jewell is) one of the best middle linebackers I have seen in awhile. I don’t want to stereotype a player, but he is an Iowa linebacker," Meyer said. "The last one I coached against in the Outback Bowl (Chad Greenway)."

Jewell has statistically played his best against top opponents in his career at Iowa. Against Penn State earlier this season, Jewell matched a career-high in tackles for a single game, notching 16 stops and an interception in a 21-19, last-second loss to the Nittany Lions at Kinnick Stadium. 

Meyer hasn't been the only one inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to notice what Jewell brings to the table. Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill said Wednesday after watching film that he knows he will need to bring his hard hat against the Iowa defense, particularly against Jewell on Saturday. 

"He is one of those (guys who is), coming head-first. If I have to block him, I better bring something with it," Hill said. 

Center Billy Price said his approach to facing Jewell doesn't change much from last week, when the Buckeyes scouted and prepared for Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda. 

"You are aware of the player and his capabilities, but you are not going to isolate a player and run away from that guy," Price said. "As an offense, you try to go out and execute at a high level and put a man on a man and go block him."

While Ohio State isn't likely to reinvent the wheel just to avoid Jewell on Saturday, the Buckeyes are aware that the middle linebacker has the ability to make plenty of plays against them. 

"You can tell he is running the show on film. He is all over the ball. He is everywhere. He definitely stands out," Hill said. 

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