The Ohio State football staff held their weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, where head coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, and fullback/tight end coach Tim Hinton spoke to the media about the Buckeyes' 63-14 thrashing of Penn State, as well as their upcoming game at Purdue.
Against the Nittany Lions, 17 players graded out as champions. Running back Carlos Hyde, tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett, receivers Corey "Philly" Brown, Chris Fields, and Devin Smith, center Cory Linsley, guard Marcus Hall, and tackle Jack Mewhort were named offensive champions. Mewhort and Hyde, who rushed for 147 yards in the victory over the Nittany Lions, were named the team's co-offensive players of the game.
Missing from the list was quarterback Braxton Miller, who received the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Week honors. The junior from Huber Heights tallied 320 yards of total offense to go along with five touchdowns in the win.
Likewise, running back Dontre Wilson was named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week. The speedster from DeSoto, Texas, touched the ball only three times on offense, but electrified the crowd with a 49 yard kickoff return and a 26 yard reception for a touchdown. Wilson also graded out as a champion on special teams.
On defense, linebacker Ryan Shazier, defensive lineman Noah Spence, and defensive backs Bradley Roby, Doran Grant, and CJ Barnett were named champions on defense. Spence and Roby, who was ejected for targeting the previous game, were named co-defensive players of the week. In addition to the team awards, Shazier and Barnett are semifinalist for the Butkus and Thorpe Awards, respectively.
Along with Wilson, running back Jordan Hall and linebacker Craig Cataline were named special teams champions.
Meyer said that he was pleased with how the team came out against the Nittany Lions, especially after the tough game against Iowa. Meyer noted that he was somewhat worried that the opponent would have an advantage coming off of a bye week, but that was for naught as the Buckeyes took a quick lead. This week, and for the fourth week in a row, the Buckeyes' face a team coming off of a bye week.
When questioned about his team's health, Meyer noted that Miller and Spencer both took a hit to the knee, but will be fine. Likewise, Curtis Grant, who suffered a stinger in the second half, only had a sore neck after the game. However, safety Devan Bogard was not so fortunate, as he tore his ACL for the second consecutive year. Meyer, who said Bogard will have surgery this week and miss the remainder of the year, called the injury crushing and a big blow to the defense.
Against the Nittany Lions, Meyer felt that there was a new energy defensively, which had been missing in previous games. He noted that the defense was more aggressive, which led to disrupting the Penn State offensive scheme.
"We want to be a disruptive defense, and we will be a disruptive defense." - Urban Meyer
One topic of discussion was the involvement of Dontre Wilson. While he only touched the ball three times on offense, it was obvious that the staff felt he had a great week of practice. In the past, Meyer felt that Wilson needed to block better to see playing time, but against Penn State, Wilson was successfully used as a decoy as much as he saw the ball. Meyer said that the staff plans on getting the speedster more touches as the season goes on, but said that the real excitement will come next year.
"Wait until you see him next year." - Urban Meyer on freshman running back Dontre Wilson.
As the season moves to the November portion of the schedule, the Buckeyes are in good hands with Meyer. Since 2003, when he became the head coach at Utah, Meyer is a stellar 30-3 during the month of November. The good news is that Meyer says his goal is to get to November undefeated, then make a name for yourself.
"Our only goal is to compete for a championship in November." - Urban Meyer
To do so, Meyer will rely on his quarterback, Braxton Miller, to lead the team. Meyer said he has been extremely impressed with Miller's development, especially over the last few weeks. While the hope was for Miller to get better week after week, Meyer says that he has exceeded those expecations. Meyer noted that it is no coincidence that Miller's game has improved since Kenny Guiton began to warm up on the sidelines during the tough road game at Northwestern.
"He's been on another level since Guiton started warming up against Northwestern. I don't think it's a coincidence." - Urban Meyer on Braxton Miller's recent improvement
While he's happy with the offense, Meyer has not been impressed with the play of his linebackers. Meyer said that the linebackers are not at Ohio State's level of expectation, but said that he'll keep his finger on it.
In the end, Meyer was asked what it was like to not lose for almost three seasons. Meyer joked that he was going to kick the reporter out, but said that it's because Ohio State brings in the best talent. Meyer feels that there's always somebody waiting to take a spot, so the players must make sure they don't take a play off. That goes for anyone, as Meyer was quick to note that the stadium was chanting his backup quarterback's name in the second half of Saturday's game.
"The frickin' stadium was calling (Guiton's) name." - Urban Meyer on the expectation of the fans