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Urban Meyer is looking for more out of Ohio State's secondary

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If the Buckeyes want to compete, the secondary has to be better.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“So they have to develop and grow. And I thought we'd be a little further ahead in pass defense. I thought our corner development would be a little bit further ahead, but they are making strides.”

- Urban Meyer via Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com

The Ohio State secondary has left something to be desired over the past four weeks. Struggling against Indiana’s passing attack and then being picked apart by Oklahoma certainly didn’t help, but it’s not just against the good teams that the Buckeyes defensive backs have been weak against. Even against UNLV, there were plays that made you raise your eyebrows, especially when it came to pass interference (sometimes out of necessity). Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette and Denzel Ward have all been rotating this season, but coach Meyer is a little disappointed in where his secondary is at right now.

Any time you have NFL talent leave your roster, it’s tough to find replacements that are going to perform at the same level, even for a program like Ohio State. Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley were two of the best cornerbacks in the country last season and throw in a hyper-athletic safety that had a nose for the ball in Malik Hooker, Ohio State’s secondary was a luxury that most everyone is missing right about now.

Still, the good news is that there’s still time to improve and coach Meyer has said that the defensive backs are making strides. They’ll just have to be ready when Trace McSorley and Penn State roll into town in a couple of weeks.

“[Best college quarterbacks - Week 4] 2. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett

- Jeremy Mills, ESPN

For as much criticism that quarterback J.T. Barrett receives in both wins and losses, there wasn’t much to complain about last Saturday when the Buckeyes smashed UNLV, 54-21. Barrett only played in the first half of the game, where he went 12-of-17 passing for 209 yards and five touchdowns. If you take a look at a couple of charts in the link above, you’ll see where he did most of his damage, and although none of the touchdown passes were down the field it was clear Barrett had a great day. Perhaps that’s what Ohio State needs to get used to, the horizontal passing game. It’s been proven that something goes wrong when the Buckeyes try to go vertical on teams, between dropped passes from receivers or misfires on Barrett’s fault.

This passing attack might not be as flashy, but it most definitely results in yardage and most often moving the chains, which is most important for an offense. If the passing game can be a consistent threat, that will open things up for J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber when running the ball. Even though it came against UNLV, it’s still important that Barrett and his receivers did well, if only for confidence building.

“But he showed on Saturday in Ohio State's 54-21 win vs. UNLV that while he doesn't have that five-star pedigree that some of the other members of his class does, he can be just as impactful at the college level.”

- Tim Bielik, Cleveland.com

Though there was plenty to be excited about when watching the backups and freshmen play against UNLV on Saturday, one standout that deserved attention was safety Isaiah Pryor. With all of the former five-stars on the team, it’s easy to get lost in the pack but Pryor, a former four-star, made a case as to why he could potentially be a key cog in the defensive secondary in the near future. Pryor had four tackles against the Rebels and a big-time sack as well.

There were quite a few players that had some nice plays and we even saw some Demario McCall action for the first time this season. Chase Young, the defensive end, also had four tackles and looked to be a man among boys for a lot of the plays that he was out there for. And after a lot of hype in fall camp, freshman wide receiver Jaylen Harris made his debut hauling in two passes for 27 yards.

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