"He's not the same 'mistake guy.' He's playing much better. It's not surprising the success he's having because he's practiced that way."
-Urban Meyer on Michael Thomas, via The Dispatch
After shining in 2012's spring game, receiver Michael Thomas all but disappeared from Ohio State's game plan. Maddeningly inconsistent despite great flashes of talent, Thomas was redshirted as a sophomore--a very rare move, but one that the Buckeye coaching staff found necessary. That has all changed this year. Thomas, at 6'3 and 209 pounds, has become OSU's best pass-catching threat so far this season.
Everyone from his coaches to his teammates seem to be raving about Thomas' transformation from "mistake guy" to game-breaker. "He's definitely a new person. He's changed his whole attitude...he's come a long way," says safety Tyvis Powell. Where Thomas previously lacked confidence, he now has it in spades.
Meyer is cautious about declaring Thomas a success just yet, given that the Buckeyes have only played three games. Still, it's hard not to be optimistic--Thomas' 53-yard catch-and-run was one of the lone bright spots in the Virginia Tech loss, and added 2 more against Kent State last week. Thomas, the nephew of former NFL standout Keyshawn Johnson, has 4 TDs on the year.
"This kind of behavior is not acceptable and not indicative of the UC football program."
-Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Tommy Tuberville
Four University of Cincinnati players have been disciplined in the aftermath of an incident at a party last weekend. When the Bearcats face the Buckeyes next weekend, they will be without freshman cornerback Alex Thomas. Thomas fled when police officers showed up at the party, despite being told to stop. Tuberville said that Thomas will be suspended at least 4 games, until his court date on October 14th.
Other Bearcats players facing internal discipline include two starters: senior running back Hosey Williams, who led the team in rushing last season, and junior defensive back Leviticus Payne. Payne and one other member of the team, sophomore Ey'Shawn McClain, had outstanding warrants for minor drug offenses. Tuberville said that those involved were disciplined for their part in the incident.
Before taking on Ohio State, the Bearcats will face Miami (OH) this weekend. UC beat Toledo, 58-34, in their only other game this year.
"This week we spent a lot of time on that. We're giving him more flexibility."
-Urban Meyer on J.T. Barrett, via Cleveland.com
Days before Braxton Miller went down for the season, he told reporters that the coaching staff had been working to give him more freedom at the line of scrimmage. That meant making his own playcalls, and using his knowledge of the defense to call audibles and adjustments. Of course, none of that matters anymore for this year.
Still, the potential exists for new starter J.T. Barrett to be granted some of the same flexibility. Though Barrett has only started three games, compared to Miller's three seasons, the coaching staff believes he's ready to work in a wrinkle or two on his own. Meyer made the above statement on Thursday's radio interview. This would be the perfect week to begin implementing some of that freedom for Barrett, as the Buckeyes have a bye week to prepare for their tilt against Cincinnati on the 27th.
Barrett, for his part, likes being able to control the tempo. "A lot of it is just going fast, not a certain concept," he says. "Because once we start going fast, things just start happening." Barrett's position is no doubt supported by the Jekyll-and-Hyde showing by the Buckeyes in the last two weeks.
"The grand plan of defensive line coach Larry Johnson was to have Miller spelling Spence as the Buckeyes pushed to keep the energy level up across the front four."
-Tim May, The Dispatch
With Noah Spence again facing suspension after a second failed drug test, the Buckeyes have turned to senior defensive end Steve Miller. Miller has started all three games at DE for Ohio State so far this season, a trend that will continue as long as Spence remains ineligible.
Miller has just five tackles on the year, a far cry from Spence's 2013 All-Big Ten season, when the then-sophomore racked up 53 tackles and a team-high eight sacks. Still, Miller isn't without talent, and this is his first time getting serious minutes on the field. Miller saw very limited action in his first three seasons in Columbus.
"He's done pretty good," said Urban Meyer, commending Miller for his efforts. If Miller hopes to continue making his mark this season, he will need to keep improving--freshman Jalyn Holmes is pushing the senior for playing time, and Spence could be cleared to return at some point this season. Perhaps the threat of losing snaps to his younger teammate will provide the spark that Miller and his coaches are looking for.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Cool piece on the "Godfather" of Columbus hockey, still making an impact at age 82.
- Bill Willis, one of the GOAT at Ohio State, will be featured in a documentary on the integration of pro football.
- HERO: A rabid bat attacked a camper playing the guitar, a move we can all empathize with.
- 2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition entries...yes please
- Cool stats from Spotify on what music Ohio State listens to.