Urban Meyer Excited for Daughter’s Senior Day
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer is heading south, and for once, it has nothing to do with football.
Photo by Dan Harker
No, Meyer is sticking to his contract, the one he made with his family before he agreed to take the head-coaching job at Ohio State last November. It’s been less than a year, but Meyer is still keeping his promises.
At least during the bye week.
“My daughter (Nicki) has got her senior day at Georgia Tech, so I’m going to watch her play in person,” Meyer said of his plans for the off weekend.
“She’s a senior and it’s unbelievable. Her career is winding down and she’s a 3.8 student and she’s a captain. So, getting a chance to see her play is really cool.”
Meyer was a little concerned the week off would disrupt the momentum of his 10-0 football team, but he also knows his team desperately needed a week to recuperate and get healthy before the final stretch run against rivals Wisconsin and Michigan.
“That’s a fine line,” he said after practice Wednesday.
“We have some guys that have played 800 snaps; there’s other guys that have played zero. Some of those guys who have played minimally are going to play these next two games just because of health issues.
“So, you don’t beat up the guys that have played a lot of plays, but you keep them sharp. You run them and keep them in shape. I think we’re doing a good job; we’ve had two good days.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
The same could be said for senior linebacker Etienne Sabino, the main guy Ohio State is hoping to get back from injury after the bye week. Sabino, who began the season as a captain and the team’s starting outside linebacker, has missed the last four games with a broken leg.
He didn’t play in the second half of Ohio State’s 63-38 win over Nebraska back on Oct. 6 either, and while Meyer expects to have him back in some capacity against Wisconsin, it doesn’t sound like the fifth-year senior is at full-strength just yet.
“He’s had two good days,” Meyer said of the Miami native.
“He’s practicing. He’s still got a little bit of a gimp, but he’s practicing. Matter of fact, he’s running with the first-team defense.”
Even if Sabino isn’t ready to give them 60 or 70 plays up in Madison, his return could not have come at a better time for the Buckeyes. After playing mostly nickel defense against teams like Nebraska, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois over the last month, Meyer expects his defense to be in a lot more base formation against the Badgers.
“We’ll be in more base than nickel, so he’ll be one of the three ‘backers,” Meyer said of Sabino, who was replaced by senior fullback Zach Boren in the nickel defense.
“That’s our plan. If it’s base, those are our three top guys. Storm (Klein) is suffering from a little bit of a back disc injury and he’s very limited on how much contact he can have. So, these next two games we’ll need all three of those guys.”
Klein has not practiced much for the Buckeyes recently, and the same could be said for defensive back Orhian Johnson, who suffered an upper-body injury against Penn State. He missed the game against Illinois this past week and was replaced by Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown in the nickel defense.
“Orhian hasn’t practiced yet, but he’s getting better,” Meyer said. “And Reid (Fragel) is real close. I think he’s going to go tomorrow.”
Fragel injured his leg in the win over Illinois. He was replaced by freshman Taylor Decker, who played the majority of the rest of the game at right tackle. The entire second-team offensive line came into the game, so it was hard to tell whether Fragel could have finish things off for the Buckeyes.
One guy who couldn’t do much on Saturday for Luke Fickell’s defense was sophomore Michael Bennett. After making his first start of the season at Penn State, Bennett barely played in the first half against Illinois.
"He’s banged up,” Meyer said Wednesday. “It’s been a tough year for Mike.”
The Buckeyes still have nine days before they have to take the field at Camp Randall Stadium up in Wisconsin. That might be enough time to get guys like Sabino, Johnson, Fragel and Bennett ready for one of the biggest games of the year.
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