Coming into the season with the daunting task of replacing 16 starters, eight on each side of the ball, Buckeye fans would have been hard-pressed to find fault in 77-10 and 48-3 wins over Bowling Green and Tulsa in the season’s opening weeks.
However, Urban Meyer is not any ordinary Buckeye fan; for the Ohio State head coach, the first two games of 2016 showed much of his young team’s promise, but also illuminated a number of the things that they must improve upon before their first major test this Saturday in Norman, OK.
With the Sooners looking to save their season after a Week One loss to Tom Herman’s Houston Cougars, Meyer knows that his team must play its best to remain undefeated and in contention for a playoff berth.
As Meyer took to the podium for his weekly Monday press conference, he noted that while Saturday’s game against Tulsa was far from perfect, there was much to be learned and celebrated from the win.
Champions of the Tulsa game
- Defensive Player of the Game: Marshon Lattimore
- Offensive Player of the Game: Curtis Samuel
- Defensive line: Mike Hill, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Robert Landers, Tyquan Lewis
- Linebackers: Raekwon McMillan, Chris Worley
- Defensive Backs: Gareon Conley, Denzel Ward, Malik Hooker, Damon Webb
- Wide Receivers: Noah Brown, Parris Campbell
- Offensive Line: Marcus Baugh, Pat Elflein, Billy Price
- Honorable Mention: Mike Weber, Dontre Wilson
Thoughts on last week
- Meyer admitted that Tulsa’s blitzing and late movement caused disruptions for the Buckeye offense early in the game.
- He also said that quarterback J.T. Barrett started off slow, but eventually settled in and ended up having a good game.
- When asked about his offense’s slow start on Saturday, Meyer noted that he was glad that it happened when it did, because it exposed some issues, specifically on the offensive line, that will need improvement for Saturday.
- Meyer thinks that the play calling from the offensive coordinators in the booth has been outstanding so far this season.
- He also said that if you take away the first ten minutes of the Tulsa game, he didn’t have many complaints.
- Meyer said that while he thought that Malik Hooker and Damon Webb would play well this year, he didn’t expect them to have been playing as great as they have been thus far.
Looking forward to Oklahoma
- Meyer said that he is glad that the the Oklahoma game is coming in Week Three in order to give the young players an opportunity to get game experience before such a daunting road test.
- When asked about his young offensive line, Meyer said that while he is “concerned about everything,” he has confidence that the team is getting better, and that a line with so many new starters is bound to go through early-season growing pains. He also admitted that he actually thinks that they are further ahead of where he expected them to be.
- In preparing for such a big road game, Meyer said that there is no way to simulate that in the off-season for a young team, or he would have asked A.D. Gene Smith for $60,000 to take his team off-campus to do it.
- Meyer said that the film of Oklahoma’s opening week loss to Houston has been very useful in prepping for Saturday’s matchup. He said that the Buckeye and Cougar offenses are very similar, and that Houston took advantage of big plays down the field to win.
- He highlighted some back-shoulder throws, isolation routes, and trick plays with the running back from Houston QB Greg Ward that were successful. However, he did not think it was a methodical beating for the Cougs.
- Meyer said that his coaching staff has spoken to Houston coach Tom Herman, primarily about OU’s personnel. Meyer noted that the game film says a lot, but the insights about specific players and match-ups is invaluable.
- Meyer adds that these types of conversations are only common for his staff when there is an existing relationship with another coach.
- Looking back at the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, Meyer remembers that OU coach Bob Stoops changed his defense from his traditional 4-3 to a 3-4 defense, and that threw off Meyer’s Florida team. He said that it gave him a “sick feeling” on the sideline, and that it lead to some language that he couldn’t use in front of the media.
- Meyer notes that the size of the Oklahoma defensive line will make it very difficult to run against them. However, he later added that there is no way to beat the Sooners without a balanced offense.
- Dontre Wilson rested on Sunday, but Meyer expects him to be ready to go against Oklahoma.
- Linebacker Dante Booker is probable for the game this Saturday coming off of an MCL injury.
- Jashon Cornell will be reevaluated on Tuesday.
- When asked why he was never able to sign an Ohio player while coaching at Florida, Meyer gave credit to Jim Tressel for locking down the state’s best talent.
- He also noted that due to Ohio high school rules, some of the state’s players don’t have the ability to progress as much as they would in other states that have longer spring practice or 7-on-7 seasons. However, once Ohio 3-star guys get to college, Meyer said that they have a track-record of developing quickly.
The No. 3 Buckeyes will travel to Norman, OK to take on the 14th-ranked Sooners on Saturday at 7:30pm ET on Fox.