The Buckeyes held their weekly press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, where head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Tom Herman, and safeties coach Everett Withers spoke to the media about the 60-35 win at Illinois, which secured the Illibuck Trophy for the Buckeyes.
Against the Illini, the Buckeyes had 12 players grade out as champions. Running back Carlos Hyde, receivers Evan Spencer and Corey "Philly" Brown, tight end Jeff Heuerman, and lineman Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort, and Andrew Norwell were named offensive champions. Norwell and Hyde, who rushed for a career-high 246 yards and four touchdowns on his way to being named the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Week, were named the team's co-offensive players of the game.
On defense, linebacker Ryan Shazier, cornerback CJ Barnett, and lineman Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa, and Noah Spence were named champions. Spence and Shazier, who was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week, were also named the team's co-defensive players of the week.
With the season winding down, Meyer spoke about the meaning of this week's game for the 18 seniors playing their final game in Ohio Stadium. Those players include the aforementioned Barnett, "Philly" Brown, Hyde, Linsley, Mewhort, and Norwell, as well as kicker Drew Basil, offensive guard Ivon Blackmon, safety Corey "Pitt" Brown, safety Christian Bryant (out for the season), received Chris Fields, cornerback Adam Griffin (out for the season), quarterback Kenny Guiton, running back Jordan Hall, offensive guard Marcus Hall, long snapper George Makridis, and safety Jamie Wood (out for the season).
Also listed in the media notes was cornerback Bradley Roby, who is likely playing in his last game in the Horseshoe despite being a redshirt junior.
As noted in the list of seniors, the team has struggled with injuries this season. Meyer called the team "beat up a little", but said he hopes that the team can get healthy before their impending rivalry game. Linebackers Josh Perry and Curtis Grant look to return this week, as Meyer said Perry is "probable" and Grant is "50/50". Same goes for Joey Bosa, who injured his neck in the game against Illinois. Meyer said Bosa had x-rays after his injury, but they came back negative.
With his team in third place in the last night's Bowl Championship Series standings, Meyer was asked what he thought about the BCS era as a whole, as well whether or not it was the best way to decide who plays for the national championship. Meyer stated that he did believe it was a "flawed system", but contrary to the context in which it's being disseminated nationally, he made it clear that he thinks any system wouldn't be without controversy. The example he used likened the fifth best team being left out of a four team playoff, and though he stated he thought the BCS was great for a while, the tone/context he used was more to the effect of "it worked until it didn't", rather than anything self serving or aggrandizing.
The key to the Buckeyes' success have been the maturation of Braxton Miller. Meyer gave a lot of credit to the receivers and tight ends for their blocking ability downfield, but said that Meyer has improved dramatically in the read option. Meyer said that Miller's decision making is much better, noting that it only worked half the time last season.
Meyer also took time to laud praise upon his backup quarterback, as well, saying that Kenny Guiton has had a "profound" effect on Miller. Whether or not that turns into Miller leaving early for the NFL is yet to be determined. Meyer said that he expects to have a conversation with Miller, Shazier, and Roby, but said that will come after the season. As mentioned before, Roby will likely be playing his last game in Columbus.
This weeks opponent, the Indiana Hoosiers, scored 49 points on the Buckeyes last season in a losing effort. Although his team won, Meyer called the effort in that game unacceptable. I wouldn't expect that to happen again this season.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said that the windy conditions at Illinois did play a factor in the offensive struggles, but was quick to note that all the blame cannot rest upon that.
"To blame the entire lack of production on the wind would be a little bit overboard" - Tom Herman
Herman said he tried to keep with the aggressive play-calling the gameplan called for, but admitted that the may have underestimated the wind on a couple deep passes. Herman said that the passing game was less than stellar, pointing quarterback Braxton Miller struggled in the intermediate game as well. Herman said that Miller wasn't his normal self, but said that it happens sometimes.
Continuing to talk about Miller's game, Herman pointed out that no quarterback is perfect. Herman has been impressed with Miller's decision making, both in the red option and throwing the ball, saying that Miller continues to improve every week.
Despite tweaking his knee in practice earlier in the week, senior right tackle Jack Mewhort played the first six series as the Buckeyes ran out to a 28-0 lead. As a precaution, Mewhort was taken out of the game, only to return when the lead dwindled down to 35-21 in the third quarter. Herman was very pleased with Mewhort's effort against the Illini, calling him the glue that holds the offense together.
One offensive weapon that hasn't been utilized to Herman's desires is running back Dontre Wilson. When asked whether the freshman deserved playing time, Herman answered "absolutely", but also noted that getting Wilson involved will take the ball out of Braxton, Carlos Hyde, and Philly Brown's hands.
Recently becoming a father to a baby boy, Maverick, the dark-haired Herman jokingly said he was glad that the baby looks like him.
"I'm glad he's not blonde-haired and blue eyed. I know I haven't been home very much." - Tom Herman
Confirming what the Ohio State media already knows, Herman will win his introductory press conference when he's introduced as a head coach next year.