B1G Teleconference: Urban Meyer Confirms Jerome Baker Will Return to Action Against Illinois

By James Grega on November 14, 2017 at 1:50 pm
Urban Meyer

Ohio State thumped Michigan State on Nov. 11 to move to 8-2 on the season, with games against just Illinois and Michigan left. 

Urban Meyer made his second media appearance of Week 12 Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. What follows are the highlights from his appearance. 

Meyer notes:​

  • The offensive line play was what Meyer was most pleased with following the win over Michigan State. 
  • Meyer said he has not discussed anything other than preparing for Illinois this week. 
  • Meyer praised Dre'Mont Jones for his play this year, but added his targeting call was correct and that Ohio State continues to educate players on how to avoid those. 
  • Blake Haubeil has improved on his kickoff location as the season has progressed. 
  • Jerome Baker has been cleared to play against Illinois and Dante Booker is questionable following injuries last week. 
  • Meyer said it is the coach's job to make sure his players are not looking ahead to Michigan or a possible Big Ten title game. 
  • The Illinois interior defensive line stands out on film. "They can play anywhere in the Big Ten conference."

Highlights from around the Big Ten

Lovie Smith (Illinois)

  • Smith said Illinois has had to lean on freshman wide receiver Ricky Smalling this season. "Ricky has really stepped up. We feel if we get him in a one-on-one situation, it's a good thing for us."
  • Smith said he wouldn't commit to a starting quarterback to their Saturday matchup against Ohio State. 
  • Smith said his players are looking forward to playing in Ohio Stadium, a place Illinois has not visited since 2014. 
  • "Eventually, we are going to get over the hump," Smith said of rebuilding the Illini program. 
  • Smith said coaching at Ohio State under John Cooper was an "unbelievable experience." Smith coached the Ohio State defensive backs in 1995. 

Chris Ash (Rutgers)

  • Ash said he has seen his team improve in turnover margin which has resulted in an improved record this season. The Scarlet Knights are 4-6 with three conference wins after just two wins all of last season. 

Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)

  • Harbaugh said his team found out as the season progressed its identity was a power run offense. Added most teams don't know their identity at the beginning of the season.
  • He said effort and execution has improved since a loss to Penn State. Michigan has won three games in a row since a loss to the Nittany Lions. 
  • Harbaugh said running back Karan Higdon has provided a spark for the Michigan offense. "He is an ascending player."
  • Harbaugh said Michigan will pursue a medical redshirt for wide receiver Tarik Black if he cannot return this season. 
  • He praised Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibook and running back Johnathan Taylor, adding Taylor always seems to get 2-3 more yards than he should on any run play. 

Paul Chryst (Wisconsin)

  • Chryst said, "You never know how years play out" when asked about Wisconsin's strength of schedule. "Each week is a challenge," he added. "I don't care what people think. Our guys aren't listening to outside noise."

Mike Riley (Nebraska)

  • Riley said quarterback Tanner Lee has stepped up his leadership in the locker room during a tough season. 
  • He said backup quarterback Patrick O'Brien has stayed engaged during practice, because Lee was "not able to." Riley added he is optimistic that Lee will be able to play against Penn State after suffering a concussion against Minnesota. Lee is still not practicing, though. 

Mark Dantonio (Michigan State)

  • Dantonio said the emphasis has been "pushing forward" after a 48-3 loss to Ohio State. "We can't change what happened, just focus on what's next."
  • He said Michigan State has done a lot of things differently this season to turn around a 3-9 season. 

Kirk Ferentz (Iowa)

  • Ferentz said he has not seen back-to-back weeks of production before like cornerback Josh Jackson has given Iowa in the last two weeks. Jackson has five interceptions in Iowa's last two games. 
  • Ferentz said Purdue is playing well each week. Added he is just focusing on what the Boilermakers have done since their bye-week. 

P.J. Fleck (Minnesota)

  • Fleck said he has seen growth in his team in terms of their maturity and wanting to do "more for their team and their community."
  • Fleck said Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is one of the biggest influences on his coaching career. "He has been able to do it the right way and have cultural sustainability."

Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern)

  • Fitzgerald said he doesn't want the playoffs to expand in college football. 
  • Fitzgerald said he hasn't had the success recruiting in Ohio like he would hope, and that Ohio State still gets who they want. 
  • Fitzgerald said he would be in favor of a 10-game conference schedule, playing five at home and five on the road. 

D.J. Durkin (Maryland)

  • Durkin was not asked any questions on the teleconference. Maryland is set to travel to Michigan State on Saturday with kick set for 4 p.m.

Jeff Brohm (Purdue)

  • Brohm said his team "hit a lull" in the Big Ten season after a strong start. He added. "The attitude has been great. They have done everything we have asked."

James Franklin (Penn State)

  • Franklin agreed with Fitzgerald in that the playoff system should stay at four teams.

Tom Allen (Indiana)

  • Allen was not asked any questions on the teleconference. Indiana takes on Rutgers on Saturday. 
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