With the Buckeyes entering their first bye week of the season, head coach Urban Meyer was made unavailable to the media until today. Meyer, along with offensive coordinator Tom Herman, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, and a few players took time after practice to speak to the media.
Most notably, the coaches and players stressed the need for a bye week, saying that the time to refocus and relax will make the team better. Without it, they said it's easy to become distracted and worn down.
Players are afforded the opportunity to go home this week, but Meyer expects the team to be ready come Monday when preparations for Iowa begin.
While Meyer noted that the team is excelling on offense and is among the top 10 in the country in rushing, he was also quick to talk about their main fault: the defensive secondary. Meyer stressed that part of the problem is the fact that the defensive scheme's priority is to stop the run, often leaving the members of the secondary on an island. Despite the overall feeling that the Buckeyes' secondary is subpar, Meyer feels that Corey "Pitt" Brown and Tyvis Powell are filling in nicely for the injured Christian Bryant. Meyer also hopes to get freshman Vonn Bell some playing time.
It is expected that Ryan Shazier, who wore number two in honor of Bryant in the win over Northwestern, will continue to wear the number for the remainder of the season.
One strength on the defense, according to Meyer, is the play from the defensive line, most notable Joey Bosa. The freshman has lived up to the expectations of both Meyer and Fickell, who said that it's not often a player comes in a exceeds those expectations. Meyer also raved about Bosa, calling him an impact player on the defense with a great future ahead of him. Bosa, who was quite candid when interviewed, says that he hasn't had a problem adjusting to the college game, noting that the toughest part of being a freshman is being picked on by his teammates.
When asked about Dontre Wilson, another freshman who was expected to contribute heavily this season, Meyer said he hopes to get the running back more involved in the immediate future, but also called him a novelty. While Meyer likes to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, he also realizes that they have to be complete players.
"We'd love to throw him screens and get him out in space, but he has to learn to throw a block." - Urban Meyer on Dontre Wilson
Herman echoed that, saying that Wilson didn't have a great week of practice, which resulted in him not seeing the field for anything other than kick returns. Herman also felt that when the team puts Wilson out on the field, an immediate red flag pops up alerting the defense that he's getting the ball. If Wilson gets better at blocking, Herman hopes they can eventually use him as a decoy as much as they get him the ball.
In regards to the quarterback situation, Herman felt that Braxton Miller played hard, but missed a few reads and throws throughout the night. Despite the two fumbles in the redzone, he kept his head up throughout the game, which was one reason Meyer didn't bench him in favor of Kenny Guiton.
The conversation that the head coach and offensive coordinator had with each other when ABC's cameras showed Guiton warming up was no more than a quick assessment of the situation.
"He came up to me and asked if we should get Kenny ready. I said yes, but I'm glad he decided to stick with Braxton because that was best for the team." - Tom Herman on conversation with Urban Meyer about quarterbacks
When asked what he was going to do with his week off, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said he'll be on the recruiting trail. When asked specifically where he'd be, Fickell said he'll be in the Savannah, Georgia, area, which likely means he'll be watching 2014 target Raekwon McMillan.
Fickell told the media that it is very likely the team will have Adolphus Washington back for the Iowa game, which comes after the defensive lineman missed the past four games with a groin injury. Fickell also hopes that Tommy Schutt will be able to bolster the front seven with his return to the defensive front after missing every game thus far.