Ohio State football is just a few days away and as is tradition, Urban Meyer stopped by 97.1 The Fan to talk about Bowling Green and answer fans questions for the first time this 2016 season.
Meyer is “very excited to watch [the young players] play”. He expects nerves, but there are a bunch of young players getting ready to go.
On the game plan against Bowling Green
On offense, the plan is to keep things fairly simple — noting the first two series of the game are the most critical. There are a lot of young guys getting their first taste of 100,000-plus fans cheering in the stands; Meyer jokingly admitted there may be a bit of hyperventilating by some of the 17-year-old players — but the head coach is ready.
One of the young players that will see their first collegiate snap on Saturday is tailback Mike Weber — who Meyer said has the mannerisms of Carlos Hyde. Other starters include Parris Campbell, Noah Brown, Marcus Baugh, Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson. Terry McLaurin, Austin Mack, James Clark and K.J. Hill will all see playing time as well. With this kind of depth on offense, Meyer is hoping for a 30-play rotation this season.
Luckily, the offense will be lead by the stable hands of quarterback J.T. Barrett and center Pat Elflein. On Barrett, Meyer had nothing but high praise, “He’s outstanding.” He continued about how it’s been Barrett’s show all summer and during camp, and that “he’s as good as they get.” On Elflein, Meyer double down on a statement he’s said before, “best center in college football.”
Meyer noted that defensively, it’s difficult trying to figure out what Bowling Green is going to do, which makes preparation limited. He is expecting a four-down 4-3 defense, but with some injuries plaguing the team, they might switch to 3-4 ahead of the game.
On his time at Bowling Green
Meyer was asked about his time as head coach for Bowling Green, where he finished with a 17-6 record. The head coach relived talking to Earl Bruce and Lou Holtz who got him an interview and encouraged him to take the job. After initially turning it down, Bruce called and cussed out Meyer, followed by a call from Holtz who asked his former assistant why he didn’t want the job. Meyer noted that it just wasn’t a great position, to which Holtz replied, “Of course it’s not. If it was a great job they wouldn’t give it to you.”
Meyer still talks about his time at Bowling Green with a bit of excitement and a load of respect. He recalled when he started, game day attendance was so bad he and his staff spent three months meeting with every single student organization in order to garner support for the team -- even teaching students their school song and the significance behind the school’s colors.
The head coach was asked to reiterate the story about practice gear and facilities that he told earlier in the week at his press conference. Meyer spoke on how everyone was wearing different t-shirts and shoes, and how there was no cohesion. After some fundraising and making some calls to Adidas, the team was set with matching shoes — blue and white/grey, not brown and orange.
On positional depth
Meyer noted that this is the first time since he’s been at Ohio State that they are able to have a rotation at defensive end. He said, they just didn’t trust the backups the past few seasons, but this year they are stacked — especially with some older guys improving a lot this offseason, like Tracy Sprinkle.
One of the captains that surprised fans a bit was Joe Burger. Meyer notes that he’s the kind of kid who could do anything after college. He’s been offered a job at J.P. Morgan Chase — with a degree in engineering — and Meyer is trying to talk him in to being a coach. Burger will be involved in kick-offs, returns and some defense. Meyer noted that the impact of players like Burger, who don’t have a set starting role, on those around them is critical.