Skull Session: Defensive Backs Must Improve, Mike Weber's “Reward,” and Dick Vermeil Does What He Wants

By D.J. Byrnes on September 20, 2017 at 4:59 am
Ben Victor plows a Black Knight for the September 20th 2017 Skull Session

Happy 19th birthday to my first reader, BuckeyePops. It seems like just yesterday I dropped him off as a lil' tyke at Moritz College of Law. Now he's damn near old enough to make me a grandfather.


Word of the Day: Freebooter.

 FIVE-STAR REINFORCEMENTS? The thing about stuffing every recruiting class with five-star athletes is fans always want to see the new ones when the old ones struggle.

Teams will continue to attack Ohio State's secondary until it proves capable in pass defense. Some folks have wondered if five-star freshmen Jeffrey Okudah or Shaun Wade could see rotational snaps.

After all, there are times where they seemingly couldn't be worse.

Okudah is close. Wade not so much.


"Wade's been dinged up a little bit," Meyer said Monday. "He didn't practice at all. Okudah is scratching the surface of playing time." 

So no. Not yet. The Buckeyes aren't looking for true freshmen to solve their problems. At cornerback, they're looking at junior college transfer Kendall Sheffield and veterans Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette, as they have been all season.

"Sheffield is getting better. He had his best week of practice last week," Meyer said. "And I know it's his third year in college, but he's not had a lot of experience. And Ward's gotta continue to get better. Those are the guys we keep moving forward. And Damon Arnette."

It would be cool to see Okudah break through, but I'm not banking on it. There are always a couple freshmen who are always "close to breaking through" according to Meyer but never see the field.

The good news for the secondary, though, is they have six weeks before Penn State comes to town. We won't really know how much they've improved since Oklahoma until then.

 GODSPEED, MIKE. The rumors of Mike Weber's offseason evolution appear true when he has the ball in his hands. Unfortunately that hasn't been a lot in 2017 as injuries have nagged him all season.

The silver lining, at least, is he won't have the wear of a workload on his body when he does return to form.

From Edward Sutelan of The Lantern:

However, Weber is coming off a season as Ohio State’s primary running back in which he rushed for 1,096 yards on 182 carries and added 91 receiving yards on 23 catches.

Despite his injury and Dobbins’ success as the No. 1 running back so far, Weber could still return in a major role for Ohio State’s offense once he is fully healthy.

“He’ll be rewarded once he gets back full speed,” Meyer said. “It’s not that Mike’s a lost soul around here … He’s very critical for us as we continue to move forward in conference play coming up in a few weeks.”

I wouldn't even play Weber this week. The Buckeyes don't need him. They will need him for the looming Big Ten season, though.

 BRING DICK VERMEIL BACK. Many readers looked at today's headline and wondered, "Dick Vermeil? What in the hell?"

Such are the wonders of typing a column like this. You never know what soldiers of fortune ride into town on the #content train.

Remember the 1997 Rose Bowl? Dick Vermail announced it, and he said what he wanted.

From Marionaire Brett Gates of


Time for that old game, Ohio State fan or Dick Vermeil direct quotes?

“Pass interference! Pass interference! Jesus! Yeah I would be saying that too Stanley, looked like he had a hold of him!”

“I saw pass interference Brent, excuse me. Top of your screen, Jackson number 23. I don’t know what the heck that is, if that isn’t, those guys down there, the officials, ought to donate the check to charity on that call. My gosh! That’s too obvious!”

Can’t put a price on that kind of earnestness, St. Louis Rams. Also in case you couldn’t tell, this was not called pass interference.

We need more commentary like that during big games. In fact, if these broadcast fat cats are looking for new revenue streams, I would pay $10 for every Buckeye game announced by Brent Musberger and Dick Vermeil.

The only other silkier combo would be Jim Ross and The King from WWE Monday Night Raw, Attitude Era.

 JAKE JARVIS, PART III. Renowned 12th Warrior GoBucks2204 dropped the third and final installment on his sit down with Ohio State legend Jacob Jarvis and his family.

From Nick Jackson of

When Jake and his stepfather attended that first practice in 2013, Coach Meyer invited them to also be a part of their post practice team meal. At one point, Chad had to run to his car while Urban watched Noah and Jake.

Here was the CEO, and most powerful person at the head of The Ohio State Buckeyes football machine, taking time out to invest in two youngster’s lives. Jake said Coach Meyer spent 20 minutes explaining the biblical roots of their names, and the stories and meanings behind them. As Chad said, this was Coach Meyer’s expression of love to Noah and Jake.

Coach Meyer would be the first to tell you he is not perfect. He, like all of us, struggles with the battle to walk with integrity every day. It’s a choice we all make and the battle never stops. A dear friend remarked, “Urban Meyer was God’s gift to Jake, and Jake was God’s gift to Urban.”  Yes, Coach has done wonders for Jake’s confidence and growth, but Jake has had just as big of an impact on Coach.

The whole series is worth it, ICYMI:

 SPEAKING OF THE ROSE BOWL. Don't let college football sachems fool you. There isn't one tradition they wouldn't pawn for the right amount of stone cold cash.


PASADENA – For the first time, the Rose Bowl’s storied field — home to hundreds of gridiron and soccer clashes and live performances by the world’s top musicians — could bear a name.

But it won’t be of a corporate sponsor. The field will be named for Silicon Valley real estate investor and UCLA alum Richard “Tod” Spieker, who is prepared to donate $10 million to kickstart a $40 million fundraising campaign for stadium improvements. Stadium staffers say the upgrades are necessary to keep the Rose Bowl financially viable and preserved for future generations.

The Rose Bowl Operating Company. will seek city approval Monday for new name. Its goal is to raise a total of $40 million by the stadium’s 100th birthday in 2022.

I was born in the shadow of the Rose Bowl. I'm enraged nobody called me. I too could have given $10 if that's all it takes to get your name on a historic joint like that. Hell, I could've donated at least $20 after talking to a loan shark.

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