Urban Meyer stopped by 97.1 The Fan for his weekly call-in show to talk about Ohio State's win over Hawaii, and how the team is preparing to improve against Northern Illinois University on Saturday.
Despite a 38-0 shutout victory during the team's home-opener, players and fans looked at ways the team could improve as they are just a few weeks away from conference play. Against Hawaii, the Buckeye's didn't cover the spread and also seemed to lack any offensive momentum.
Meyer doesn't like using the word disappointed, but acknowledged at his press conference earlier in the week that the offense as a whole, including the line, need to make improvements. The short week was something that affected the team following a Monday season-opener.
The team had "two really good days" this week during practice, and is happy to be back into their regular practice week schedule. The quarterback competition is still ongoing, and while Meyer acknowledges, "Cardale (Jones) is our quarterback," if someone plays better they'll play.
A caller asked Meyer about Barrett being better at running the read-option, than Jones, when Meyer surprised stating, "the read-option is not a big part of our offense anymore." He noted the team had zero against Hawaii, except for Braxton Miller who took a direct snap. The offense is heading more into pro-style spread sets, much different than the past few years.
In addition to his good runs and catches, Braxton Miller celebrated a great block during Week 2's game. "He's got a dream of playing football for awhile after college," Meyer said of Miller. He doesn't want to be just the fast-guy, he takes pride in becoming a more all-purpose player.
Miller might get a chance to throw the ball when he takes direct snaps moving forward; Meyer knows that he can't run the ball every time he's back there or opponents will always stop him. Meyer and coaches have recruited hard and have many offensive talents on the team. A caller asked Meyer if he was worried about having too much of a good thing; Meyer answered short and sweetly, "No."
Meyer is concerned about who can step into the role of the deep threat with Devin Smith now in the NFL. Mike Thomas is a great receiver, but isn't that type of player who can take the top off the defender. The team doesn't have a set player to fill that void, but some of the younger guys could develop into that position.
On defense, the Silver Bullets are back. They put on a great show in Week 2 of the football season, stopping a tough Rainbow Warriors offense from scoring -- even late in the game with the number twos on the field.
Meyer and coaches "are more impressed with the ends," but the inside players still need to get better. Meyer was very impressed with the secondary, lauding them as, "outstanding, well-coached. They're good people and go really hard."
Vonn Bell has emerged as a leading safety this season and it has a lot to do with his work ethic and relationship with coach Chris Ash. On the scoop and score from Bell against Hawaii, the team reviewed tape and noticed Bell was 20- plus yards away from the ball when the ball was fumbled. Being able to turn on the burners and get to the ball no matter what is what the coaches are looking for.
Despite some coaches saying Ohio State's schedule is easy, their Week 3 match-up could prove to be tougher than some think. The Huskies are coming in 2-0, and has been an 11-win team for the past 5 years. Meyer notes they have a great quarterback who can both pass and run, creating possible issues for the Ohio State defense.
The defensive linemen for NIU are big, there are two 300-pound guys on the inside who stand well over 6-feet. They also have the best offensive line the Buckeyes have faced this year. NIU's left guard and center are veterans and bring a lot of experience to an also-big line.
Meyer and team aren't overlooking this Week 3 match-up, commending the Huskies as, "very good, very experienced. You can tell they've played together for awhile, not a lot of missed assignments."
Mike Weber was involved in Week 2 pregame warm-ups, but could finally see playing time this week against NIU. Other than that, the team just has some bumps and bruises to treat ahead of the game.
NIU has some injured running backs and receivers, and will miss a few when they face Ohio State.