Urban Meyer joined 97.1 The Fan for his weekly call-in show to discuss Ohio State's snowy win in Minnesota and what's ahead for the Buckeyes.
Special teams is getting extra attention from Urban this week. Every day, punt returners have been outside, catching punts in the elements. Sounds like appropriate punishment for Jalin Marshall's drops, catching bombs in 20 degree weather. Meyer said that the mistakes on special teams stemmed from conditions and inexperience at Minnesota. Other mistakes come from conservative play, like out-of-bounds kicks resulting from angled kick-offs. Meyer said that Minnesota has the best overall special teams unit other than Ohio State, and he didn't seem terribly concerned that the flubs wouldn't get corrected. No one's giving up hope on Jalin Marshall.
Urban praised the high level of running back play in the Big Ten in general, citing Abdullah from Nebraska and Gordon from Wisky, but calling out Ezekiel Elliott as well, who "doesn't get as many touches" because Ohio State spreads the ball around a bit more. Meyer said Elliott is one of the best backs in the country right now in terms of going hard for 4-6 seconds of relentless effort.
On Joey Bosa's Lombardi Award nomination, Meyer said he had just talked to Bosa's parents about the award. Meyer said hearing words like Lombardi and Heisman around the program is "special stuff." That's the "power of Ohio State, a national brand." Great just to have Bosa in the mix for this prestigious award, said Meyer.
Elsewhere on the defensive front: Meyer praised Michael Bennett's play last week during a "rugged game" and said Adolphus Washington had his best week of practice this week. Meyer wants Washington to have a little more that that "nasty" to take his game to the next level, and they've been showing videos of former first-round d-line picks to teach the players what their play should look like.
Meyer said the fans at Minnesota created a tough environment that was unexpectedly loud, which caused problems for voice snap cadences and caused a couple early false starts. Meyer said the Buckeyes were lucky to get the win, any chance of style points went out the window when you're playing in those type of elements. Meyer said he's buy the plane for any other team to travel up to Minnesota to play that team. Meyer called Jerry Kill a "resilient guy," a great coach and a winner.
Looking ahead to Indiana, Meyer noted that Indy has had a tough time losing a couple quarterbacks, but the backups are coming along. Nevertheless, Urban agrees this is a tempo offense with some fast, shifty receivers, namely Tevin Coleman. Defensively, Indiana is "gigantic" up front and plays in a 3-4, which Ohio State must be prepared for. Meyer sounds like he thinks they can exploit the secondary if they can get there, and the team has been focused on getting athletes downfield. Meyer predicted more pass attempts this week, but said the Buckeyes always strive for a balanced offense.
Meyer had high praise for J.T. Barrett, saying that great performances no longer surprise him the more he gets to know Barrett, more he gets to know his work ethic, leadership, etc. Meyer said he was surprised by the 86-yard TD run, said he fully expected Barrett to get dropped after 10 yards, but he just kept rumbling.
One caller asked if Meyer has ever considered using Bosa like the Texans use J.J. Watt, as a big receiver in goal line situations. Meyer said he might consider that if Heuerman/Vannett weren't available, but he said the Buckeyes aren't light at big, blocking receiving players right now. Meyer said Bosa could play tight end for Ohio State tomorrow, but he needs to be doing what he's doing right now. Said Tyvis Powell, Doran Grant and Joey Bosa already play 70+ snaps a game, they don't need any more wear on them right now.
Meyer discussed Sam Hubbard, who has been pleasantly surprised with this year as he advances quickly. Meyer said Hubbard is hard to block in practice right now, and he wished he could have pulled the trigger on playing him earlier. (Jim Lachey noted that Ohio State has five (!) games left, so there's still time get Hubbard on the field.)
Meyer dodged questions on the playoff rankings, discussing kick-off returns when one caller asked if a non-SEC champ deserved to be ranked ahead of a Big Ten champion.
On the improvements of certain "knucklehead" players, Meyer said his job is to be ruthless, not to pat guys on the back when they finally start doing things right. When guys finally start buying into the system, Meyer said his staff keeps grinding on them. He said this system has inspired Eli Apple and Doran Grant to become the players they are today.
Asked about the newspaper article on Ohio State's success with red-shirt players, Meyer credited the coaching staff and the strength program in building these young players quickly into successful contributors to the team. Meyer said there are a few athletes who could have played this year. Meyer said the team never red-shirts players to save them for later, it's always because a player isn't ready to play at the beginning of the year.
Meyer said when the team has good leaders, is confident and the team members like each other, you can count on the leaders of the team to pick up players when they're down (Jalin Marshall). Heuerman, the Grants, they can be depended on to keep the team attitude up. Meyer said, for him, effort always overcomes mistakes, and his team believes that too.
Ohio State hosts Indiana on Saturday at 12 p.m.
To catch up on what you missed in today's episode, listen below: