Ohio State held it's weekly press conference today at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center where head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Tom Herman, and cornerbacks/special teams coach Kerry Coombs spoke to the media about the 31-24 win over Wisconsin, as well as the upcoming tilt with undefeated Northwestern.
Quarterback Braxton Miller, who returned after missing the previous two games with a sprained MCL, was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Against Wisconsin, Miller matched a career-high with four touchdown passes, leading the Buckeyes to a 31-24 victory. This marked the third consecutive week that an Ohio State quarterback won the award, as Kenny Guiton took home league honors against California and Florida A&M.
Winning the field position battle is the key to any game, and that is reflected as punter Cam Johnston was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after his big day against the Badgers. Johnston, a freshman from Geelong, Australia, punted six times on Saturday with all of them landing inside of the 20. Even more impressive, five of the six landed inside of the 10 yard line. With 1:29 left in the game and the Buckeyes leading by 7, Johnston booted a 55 yard punt that had a 4.56 hangtime.
Meyer was quick to praise his team for their victory over the three-time defending Big Ten champions, but also noted that the team could have played even better. His first priority of the week will be to find a replacement for senior safetyChristian Bryant, who suffered a broken ankle in the final minute of the game against the Badgers. Meyer said he will look into a medical redshirt for Bryant, but it seems unlikely he'd be granted such a request.
As of this moment, Meyer said that Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown would be the player most likely to slide into Bryant's vacant spot, but notes it'll be hard to replace someone that's an invaluable member of the team.
"I can't say enough good things about Christian Bryant. He's an invaluable member of this team." - Urban Meyer
Meyer noted that Brown, a fifth-year senior from Monroeville, PA, is the likely candidate just based on his experience, but freshmen Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell will have an opportunity to prove themselves worthy.
The loss of Bryant could prove to be even more costly down the road, knowing the Buckeyes gave up 207 yards to Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis. While Meyer said that cornerback Bradley Roby, who was responsible for Abbrederis, wasn't up to his usual standards, he also gave him the benefit of the doubt, noting that he was in single coverage all game.
Despite the yards, Meyer said that the goal of the game is to win.
"We gave up some yards, but won the game." - Urban Meyer
Offensively, Meyer felt that the Buckeyes weren't able to execute the way they felt they should have. He was impressed with Wisconsin's defensive scheme and their ability to stop the run, which caused the Buckeyes to go away from their gameplan.
Meyer wanted to get running back Jordan Hall more involved, but noted that Wisconsin's front seven didn't allow him to get the touches. Meyer said the gameplan was to get Carlos Hyde more involved as they were facing a stout front seven, but didn't think that should have resulted in Hall being non-existent.
Meyer also felt that Miller carried the ball too many times against the Badgers. Miller carried the ball 22 times, but Meyer says that number should be in the range of 15 carries per game. Meyer said that Miller had to carry the ball such a large number of times out of necessity, especially in the second half when they were trying to run out the clock.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman echoed that sentiment, saying that the team's approach is going to be different in the second half with a 17 point lead than it was in the first half.
"Do the fans want to see everything in the 4th quarter that they saw in the first? Absolutely... It's not going to happen." - Tom Herman
Herman said that the team's responsibility is to win the game, not score a certain amount of points or gain a certain amount of yardage. He said that in any game, whether they're up 17 or it's a tie game, the Buckeyes first option of attack is the run game. However, when the defense inhibits the option to run, that the Buckeyes will strike through the air.
When Wisconsin took away the ground game, Herman said he was impressed with Miller's confidence throwing the ball. While he didn't grade out well, Herman feels that Miller trusted his arm more than he ever has. Herman noted a first quarter touchdown pass to Devin Smith, where Miller threw to Smith's back shoulder as a play he wouldn't have made in the past.
Herman also used his time to praise backup quarterback Kenny Guiton, who didn't play after starting the previous two games.
"He bleeds Scarlet and Gray. He's the most amazing human I've ever been around." - Tom Herman
Cornerbacks/special teams coach Kerry Coombs was excited as ever to be talking to the media, but has an emotional moment when talking about a player he recruited when he was an assistant coach at Cincinnati. Bearcats offensive lineman Ben Flick passed away in a car accident last weekend after the team's win over Miami (OH).