COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer sat down for his weekly one-hour call-in show on the Ohio State IMG Sports Network. Here are the highlights.
Urban Meyer Updates
+ Meyer said the final week of practice has been good. "There is a lot of character on this team." He said every possession will matter against Navy and they'll have to swing as hard as they possibly can against them.
+ Meyer said all five captains responded well following Braxton Miller's injury. He said Taylor Decker and Pat Elfein have responded as well. He gives credit to the offensive line for making the practice following the injury perhaps the best he's had at Ohio State.
+ Meyer said right tackle Darryl Baldwin is one of the most improved players on the team. He mentioned that Elflein and Billy Price will be the guards with Joel Hale in there as well. He said Elflein is probably the best center on the team, but they just can't move him from right guard right now.
+ Meyer was asked what the biggest challenges an incoming freshman faces. He said that they all deal with homesickness. This was the first year that the coaches were allowed to be around the players "quite a bit" this summer, and that helped. "It was much improved what normally happens in the summer." He said the other biggest thing is simply the speed of the game. He said kids from big schools aren't as shocked, citing Dante Booker, Joey Bosa and Sam Hubbard as guys who weren't shocked by the speed.
+ He said he thinks this is the deepest offensive line that he's had at OSU, saying that it was also probably the most inexperienced that he's had in a while. He thinks they have two legitimate All-Big Ten candidates in Decker and Elflein.
+ On Darryl Baldwin, Meyer said that he was buried on the depth chart everywhere. He said that regardless of football, he will be a success in life. He is already a graduate.
+ Meyer said that J.T. Barrett reminds people of Kenny Guiton and Chris Leak. "He throws a really nice pass." He's not the athlete that Braxton Miller is, but he's still a very good athlete. Meyer said it was important for Barrett to get some confidence early against Navy. They need to get the ball out fast and let the receivers make plays, which they haven't done well the previous two seasons. "We want to be a fast, explosive offense, but you have to have those kind of players." He mentioned Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel as guys just in the backfield who will be involved heavily.
+ He said that somebody should write a book on Corey Smith some day. He said that things weren't going well for Smith initially, and that he needs to continue to "battle the battles" and remain focused. Meyer thinks he's the most talented receiver on the team, but he has to stay focused.
+ Meyer said there will be rotation at receiver. Two to three plays, then the next guys go in. They haven't been able to do that before. "You're gonna see good rotation."
+ Meyer called Elliott dynamic and explosive. A different kind of guy than Carlos Hyde, but he's on the "can't wait to watch" list.
+ Meyer said that Bri'onte Dunn and Rod Smith came back strong. Smith didn't miss one day of training camp. His demeanor on special teams has been fantastic. He said Dunn turned some heads with his effort on special teams and at running back.
+ Meyer said that he's played against Navy a few times as a coach at Notre Dame. He said Air Force used to "run the show" in terms of the Commander-In-Chief Trophy, but Navy has since taken over. He said they are tough and disciplined. Defensively, they play a 3-4 defense who play bend-don't-break, but they are all disciplined and athletic. They're not just an overachieving team, they have a lot of really good players.
+ On the Navy offense: "They're better than they have been." "This is the best personnel of a service academy that I've coached against."
+ He said that Ed Warinner lectured the defensive staff on the triple-option given that he was the offensive line coach at Army for over a decade.
+ Meyer said he's been told from other coaches not to try to "out-scheme" Navy, just go out and play them. Just stay with your keys.
+ He said Jalin Marshall ran some option for them in scouting Navy early in camp, but they had to stop that because Marshall needed to prepare to play receiver.
+ The first caller asks why the defense was so bad at the end of the season. Was it scheme or players or coaching? Meyer said last year's pass defense was abysmal. He said the Buckeyes' new defensive system won't be on display against Navy as much as it will be moving forward. He expects a much better pass defense and continued excellence in the run defense.
+ Meyer called Darron Lee an incredible story. He was a quarterback in high school and now he's a starting linebacker at Ohio State. He said Lee had to visit and camp three or four times before they offered him. Meyer said Chris Worley has also had an excellent summer and spring.
+ Meyer said he thinks Joshua Perry should coach. "He has turned in to be a leader" and a guy who loves to practice.
+ He said that Raekwon McMillan is going to play. Dante Booker is right in the mix because Trey Johnson is still out, and will be for another week or so.
+ Meyer said he wants improvement in all return units, both coverage and return. They weren't good enough in all areas of the kicking game.
+ Meyer said that Larry Johnson has taken the defensive line's technique to another level. He said Adolphus Washington has had his best camp. He is seeing that potential come out in him. He cited Donovan Munger and Michael Hill as depth and called Tommy Schutt a co-starter at defensive tackle.
+ Meyer said that Rashad Frazier will play. He's in the rotation. Jalyn Holmes is in the mix as well. Meyer said they can't get him on the field fast enough.
+ Meyer said that Dontre Wilson will be the punt and kick returner and that Jalin Marshall will be right there with him. He said Kyle Clinton will handle kickoffs and Sean Nuernberger will be the field goal guy. He said Craig Fada should make an impact on kick coverage, as well as Devan Bogard who is back and has always been strong in the coverage game. He also said Jalin Marshall will be everywhere.
+ He said they are developing depth at both cornerback and safety. Erick Smith will get some playing time and Damon Webb is getting close, he just has to get stronger and faster.
+ On Braxton Miller's recovery: "We're gonna really monitor this one and take our time."
+ Meyer said the Buckeyes are deep and talented at tight end. Both Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman have great expectations. He said Sam Hubbard is also floating back and forth from linebacker and tight end and is smart enough to handle it.
+ He said he can't wait to see J.T. Barrett and guys like Jalin Marshall on Saturday to see how they respond to the game.