Ohio State held it's weekly press conference today at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, where head coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, and wide receivers coach Zach Smith spoke to the media. Usually, Meyer is the first coach to speak with the media, however, today he was attending the funeral of Maria Tiberi, the daughter of 10TV sports anchor Dom Tiberi.
Sports Information Director Jerry Emig noted that quarterback Kenny Guiton was named the Big Ten's Co-Offensive Player of the Week, along with Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Guiton, who threw for a school-record six touchdown passes against Florida A&M, was honored for the second week in a row.
Meyer arrived about an hour after his originally schedule time, understandably in a somber mood. Meyer praised Wisconsin, who gave the Buckeyes all they could handle in Madison last season before falling 21-14 in overtime, calling them the "king of the Big Ten."
Representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl for the past three seasons as the conference champion, the Badgers are 0-2 against Braxton Miller. Meyer said that if Miller has a good week in practice, that he'll start the first night game of the season in the Horseshoe. Noting that he was only at 90% as of this moment, Meyer hopes to have Braxton at 100% by gameday.
When asked if it's likely to play both Miller and Guiton at the same time, Meyer seems unsure. While he hopes he can find a way to give both playing time, Meyer gave the impression that he hoped one played a different position.
"If Kenny was better than one of our receivers, he'd be starting there. If Braxton was better than one of our running backs..." - Urban Meyer on his quarterbacks.
Since his injury, a sprained MCL, Meyer felt that Miller has handled his business like a professional. He noted that Miller was at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for some extra conditioning on Sunday. Meyer also said that running back Carlos Hyde, who made his first appearance of the season against the Rattlers after being suspended for the first three games of the season, has been a complete professional as well.
Adolphus Washington is another player who has missed some time recently, and Meyer hopes to have him back this week. Deemed "probable", Washington has missed the past two games with a groin injury.
Meyer has a connection to current Badgers head man Gary Andersen, who was the defensive line coach when Meyer was at Utah. When asked if he missed former Wisconsin and current Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, Meyer laughed and said, "No, I'm good with Gary."
Like Meyer, receivers coach Zach Smith was asked the same question. Smith was very tongue-in-cheek when saying that "you always miss great coaches".
Smith has been very impressed with the receivers, and the offense as a whole this season. He feels that the coaching staff has more confidence in the offense this season and has the ability to attack the weakness of any defense it faces.
"Every defense has a weakness somewhere." - Zach Smith, who felt Buckeyes weren't able to attack Wisconsin's weaknesses last season.
One casualty of the game against Florida A&M was wide receiver James Clark. The freshman out of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, injured his ankle in the second half of the game. If he is unable to return this season, Clark will be eligible to redshirt this season.
It seems as if wide receivers Corey Smith and Michael Thomas, star of the past two spring games, will also be redshirting.
Zach Smith could not stop praising receiver Devin Smith, who has eight touchdowns on the season. With touchdown receptions of 72, 63, 60, 46, 47, 90, and 47 yards, Zach gushed over Devin's ability in the vertical passing game. However, he felt that the receiver has taken steps in the intermediate passing game as well, becoming an "all-around receiver".
Another player that Smith has been impressed with this season is Evan Spencer, who caught his first touchdown passes of the season on Saturday.
"Every aspect of his game has improved. It was great to see him go out and get in the end zone." - Zach Smith on Evan Spencer.
When Spencer was made available to the media, someone pointed out that Wisconsin hasn't allowed a passing touchdown this season. Spencer boldly said that, after Saturday night, that won't stand.
On the defensive side of the ball, coordinator Luke Fickell must adjust his group to face a power run offense, something they have not seen from any of the throw-first opponents this season.
Fickell said that even though the team knows what is coming, it doesn't make it any easier to prepare for a team that wants to run the ball down your throat. While he knows the game will be won at the line of scrimmage, Fickell knows that the linebackers will be faced with a tough task as well, as Ryan Shazier is the "the only linebacker with experience".
Another key to the game is the scout team. Fickell said that the ability to run a pass-first offense during practice one week and then change to a power run offense makes a world of difference.
When asked why Guiton, who ran the scout team offense in past seasons, wasn't in discussion for the starting quarterback job when he was head coach, Fickell jokingly stated, "I've been hit in the head too many times to go back to 2011."
Meyer however, said that Guiton wasn't good enough to play before this year.