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3 things learned from Urban Meyer’s press conference heading into Tulane matchup

For the first time since the Cotton Bowl, Meyer will be back on the sidelines of a game this weekend.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Urban Meyer made his first address of the season during media availability. With the Monday pressers normally including the head coach speaking at length, Ryan Day had filled in for Meyer as he served his suspension.

Now that the suspension is lifted, Meyer spoke for nearly an hour about being suspended—and what led to it. There wasn’t any groundbreaking information that came out of Monday’s briefing from the Meyer camp, as his answers were mostly what he has said publicly and in statements over the last month as the investigative report was wrapped up.

But, there were a few on-the-field related tidbits worth mentioning. Here were the three that stood out the most.

1. “Yes, he’s getting further tests this week. He will not play this week. Further tests on an abdominal and groin issue.”

During the TCU contest on Saturday, defensive lineman Nick Bosa went down on the field, and appeared to suffer an injury to his leg/groin/abdomen area. After being helped off the field, Bosa would not return to the game. While we don’t know the severity of the injury, we do know that Bosa will be sidelined for this weekend’s clash with Tulane.

There probably won’t be any noticeable differences with Bosa being out—Ohio State should still win big without him. But the loss of one of the best lineman in the country will be noticeable if he’s out against Penn State. Last Saturday, TCU showed a little bit of life after Bosa went out of the game. The offense still continued to move, but with one of the Bucks’ biggest weapons inactive, things moved a little bit smoother for Gary Patterson’s team. However, Dre’Mont Jones and the rest of the defense eventually picked up the slack for the win.

Bosa has been a quarterback’s worst nightmare this season. Already, he’s forced three fumbles and helped pave the way for a couple of defensive touchdowns because of those takeaways. Lucky for tulane QB Jonathan Banks, he won’t have to worry about Bosa sacking him this weekend. However, he will have to worry about Dre’Mont Jones and Chase Young finding ways to get around the Green Wave offensive line.

2. “I was back two weeks ago, and I even asked today how do I assist? I’m a fundamental person, a ball security guy. I watch things very closely. I’m very involved in the kicking game. I have not been that involved in the offense. I give my ideas.”

Ohio State’s passing attack this season feels like one of the most successful in school history. Dwayne Haskins is connecting with everyone—and is reaping the rewards in the passing yards column. Last week, he pulled in 344 yards against TCU, making it one of the most effective single days in the air for a Buckeye QB.

But, could that be changing now that Meyer is back on the sideline?

As Meyer mentioned, ball security is a big deal to him. Limiting mistakes is a good way to win games, and raising the percentages for your team to keep the ball also increases your chances of winning the game. If that’s a true philosophy for Meyer, this pass-heavy of an offense may be a little too risky for Meyer.

The hallmark of the Meyer offense at Ohio State has been the read-option. In the Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett eras, both QBs were a threat to either keep the ball or hand it over to a powerful running back at the last possible moment. With Miller, he and Carlos Hyde both had 1,000-yard seasons in 2013. With Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott was the guy in the backfield for two seasons.

With Haskins showing his ability to throw, Meyer may want to see how he works in more run-pass option scenarios. Now, I wouldn’t expect to see Meyer trying to turn Haskins into a 20-carry a game QB, but if he wanted to see how his new starter would react to running a bit more, Tulane wouldn’t be a bad team to try against.

It’ll be low risk, and the added benefit is giving next week’s opponent, Penn State, more plays to be worried about. Haskins has shined in the air this season with Day as HC; now with Meyer back, we’ll have to wait and see if Meyer gives him more opportunities to show what he can do with his legs.

3. “Two very good running backs. We can get a lot better.”

From a running game perspective, things have been good this season for Ohio State. Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins have packed a punch against opposing defenses. Against Oregon State, Webber put on a clinic—rushing for a career-high 186 yards and three touchdowns. Dobbins’ best game of this young season came against TCU, where he ended with 121 yards on the ground.

If getting better at the running game is a mission for Meyer, does that mean that with him at the helm, OSU’s QBs will be throwing the ball less than they have through three games? So far, while Haskins has been in, he has thrown more than other Meyer-coached quarterbacks. The question is whether the throws will decrease to keep the ball on the ground more.

As with anything, more reps generally makes you better at whatever you’re doing. Getting more carries from Dobbins and Webber will logically make them better, however, if it’s at the expensive of the (already effective) pass game, is it worth it?