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Urban Meyer Maryland week press conference: Meyer pleased with development of offense

With the non-conference schedule behind them, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes turn their focus to the Big Ten, starting with saturday's game at Maryland in their Big Ten home opener.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Urban Meyer addressed the media in his weekly press conference, following an offensive explosion, and some questionable moments in the secondary, in a 50-28 win over Cincinnati.

Meyer said that his 'champions' on offense were Evan Spencer, Mike Thomas, Devin Smith, Rod Smith, J.T. Barrett, as well as both TEs and the entire offensive line was the offensive players of the game (along with Ezekiel Elliott). Meyer added that Corey Smith, Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall were close to being graded as champions, but a few mishaps kept them out.

Meyer also added that there is a battle between Rod Smith and Curtis Samuel for the number two running back slot. Ezekiel Elliot maintains the number one slot, after a performance that particularly impressed Meyer, who pointed out that Elliot had over 100 yards after contact. "He turned a lot of fours and fives into eights and nines."

Joey Bosa, Mike Bennett, Josh Perry and Armani Reeves graded as 'champions' on the defensive side of the ball as well and that Bosa was this week's defensive player of the week. The obvious concern is the secondary, after the Buckeyes were torched on four huge passing plays. Meyer said that  "You can't just take away those four plays".  He added that the coaching staff addressed it, and will get better, and they are"not giving up" on their defensive system.

Meyer called his kickoff team 'his guys", and says the unit got a standing ovation. Bri'onte Dunn won the team's new Thursday Race, and Meyer said he may work his way into getting a few carries as a result. He again reiterated that "you won't see somebody play if they aren't playing special teams", mentioning that Elliot plays in the unit. He also called this week a huge special teams challenge, singling out Maryland'e excellent punt and kick return units.

This will be Maryland's first Big Ten home game, and Meyer is expecting "a big time atmosphere". He mentioned that he nearly went to Maryland as an assistant coach, early in his coaching career.

Meyer said his strength coaches and his excellent training staff will immediately let him know if somebody is hurt, says he talks to his strength coach every series.

On the four big passing plays from Cincinnati, Meyer says he knows why they happened now, and "there are a few things that I would have expected differently." "We just need to play and coach better", bringing up a heated staff meeting after the 2012 poor defensive effort against Indiana. Meyer says he is satisfied with the direction the team is going. "I like who we've recruited and who I've hired, and we're going to grind and work and get better."

On Ohio State's offensive explosion: "I was really excited to get our skill going", and said he wishes he had Virginia Tech over again. Meyer admitted to being a little conservative with a new Q in that game. He said how excited he was about depth at the skill positions, calling it a "streetfight" to get the ball. "We have two sets of receivers, we have two great tight ends, we have depth at the offensive line, we have depth. You can't go up tempo without depth. Sometimes I put the breaks on tempo out of concern for fatigue." Meyer mentioned that he never pushed the tempo much at Florida and Utah, and this is the first time he feels very comfortable with the temp.

On J.T. Barrett: "I had a lot of confidence in J.T., loves him, fun to coach. Not surprised by how far he's come along so far this season, and a product of the people he has around him."

On a potential QB controversy if Braxton Miller returns next season, totally healthy: "Braxton is our quarterback", but said he hadn't thought of next year's QB battle until just then. Also complemented Cardale Jones and his professionalism.

Meyer is aware of Maryland's excellent wide receivers, and said that coaches are correcting pass defense issues. "This is a big game" as far as the secondary is concerned. Meyer also added that "when you want to challenge every throw and do press coverage, the vulnerability isn't the hitch. We're going to lose one on one matchups, but it is happening too frequently right now."

Meyer said Ohio State's false starts were on the quarterback, not the offensive line. Very intelligent, changed the play a dozen times yesterday. JT doesn't exactly rattle the walls when he speaks, but is still very much a leader.