"But I'm pleased with the progress we've made with a lot of the inexperienced guys we do have and happy with the trajectory we are on."
Not only did Ohio State have to replace Carlos Hyde, four starters on the offensive line, and quarterback Braxton Miller before the season started, but lately the offense looks like it hasn't missed a beat from last season. Ohio State is averaging less than a point less than last year and is throwing for more than 70 yards per game through the year this year. The quick maturation of quarterback J.T. Barrett has been key after he was thrust into the starting role just weeks before the season started. Barrett does have a lot of talent to lean on with Ezekiel Elliott, Dontre Wilson, and a talented group of receivers.
While Ohio State may have a lot of youth in the offense, they have done a great job in making sure that the young players are ready to play when their number is called. Some of the defenses that Ohio State has faced haven't been great in terms of where they are ranked statistically, but it has allowed the offense to gain some confidence and get comfortable what they need to be doing within the offense. Developing the talent they have on offense early will not only pay dividends this year, but also down the line as the Buckeyes hope to become a fixture in the College Football Playoff.
"I have had many times where you just don't like what you see. You close the door and have a chat with them, you call their position coach. And if that doesn't change, they don't play much."
On his weekly call-in show the first question Urban Meyer was asked about was getting in the minds of his players. The head coach offered some insight on how he evaluates his players going into a game, from bedchecks the night before the game, and looking into a player's eyes to get a read on them. Even if the players don't have the energy that Meyer is hoping they have before games, he wants his players to fake it to at least make the opponents think they are hyped for the game.
Another nugget from the call-in show is Meyer said that he likes to call opposing coaches of non-conference opponents that his team plays to try and find out if there were any tendencies that were picked up on. Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville told Meyer that there was a certain play out of one of their formations that was picked up on. Also, Meyer said that he isn't happy with the depth of the Ohio State offensive line currently. Meyer likes to have 10 lineman that are ready to play, and the Buckeyes currently have six or seven.
"They do a lot of up-tempo. Not all the time, but they will tempo you. I think they do a lot of checking and play calling at the line of scrimmage. So they get lined up, they try to get you in a hurry so you can't get your substitutions."
One of the keys to success this year for Rutgers has been their pass rush, but the Buckeyes will look to counteract that with the tempo of their offense. The Scarlet Knights typically rotate nine defensive lineman throughout the game to try and keep their pass rush fresh. Ohio State will look to try and limit those rotations by getting up to the line quickly and not allowing Rutgers to get their desired personnel onto the field.
Ohio State may hurry to the line on most plays, but that doesn't mean that they'll be snapping it quickly. There are times when Ohio State will hurry to the line to limit the opposing teams to substitute, but they'll step back to get the play after the coaches and players have had time to survey the defense. If Ohio State has some of the success they did against Cincinnati, where they accounted for 45 first downs, it will be tough for Rutgers to keep their lineman fresh. The biggest area Rutgers will have to improve on is their third down defense, where they are ranked 86th nationally. If they can't improve on that it could be a long day for the Scarlet Knights.
"There were a lot of things, when we had Aaron, that we knew were givens on game nights, and so I think one of the biggest changes is probably that we now know what we don't have .. whatever that was. I don't even know if I can describe what that was. But I knew I had it, and we don't have it."
When Ohio State men's basketball tips off next month it'll be odd to see a Buckeye team out on the floor without Aaron Craft. For four years Aaron Craft was the heart of the Buckeye basketball team, and now they face the tough task of replacing him. While players like Greg Oden, Jared Sullinger, and Evan Turner all had big impacts during their time in Columbus, their impact didn't have the longevity that Craft's impact had. Craft never lit up the scoreboard for the Buckeyes, but his lockdown defense and high basketball IQ helped Ohio State to make a Sweet Sixteen, Final Four, and Elite Eight.
The obvious choice for someone to try and replace Aaron Craft is senior Shannon Scott, who got to learn some of Craft's tricks of the trade for three years. While Scott played more of a supporting role, Thad Matta needs the senior to step-up and make this his team this year. While the Buckeyes did also lose LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith, they do have Sam Thompson returning, and highly touted freshman D'Angelo Russell coming in. Expectations are high for the Buckeyes with the team being slotted 20th in the Coaches Poll, and ranked third in the Big Ten preseason media poll.
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