Meyer Already Tinkering with OSU Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer loves offense.
Photo by Dan Harker
He may understand the importance of a good defense—“If you want to have a bad team, have a bad defensive line,” he said Sunday—and he may spend a lot his time with the punt team, but at his core, Urban Meyer is an offensive guy.
It’s what he does. It’s why he was hired as a head coach at Bowling Green back in 2001 as a 36-year old position coach. He had never been a coordinator, but Meyer had notebook after notebook full of offensive plays.
What he didn’t know, he learned. He studied coaches like Scott Linehan at Louisville, Randy Walker at Northwestern and even Rich Rodriguez, who was having success with the zone-read offense as the offensive coordinator Clemson.
“I was so enamored with the style of play,” Meyer said.
“It was spread the field and be extremely aggressive. It was a different philosophy I had never really…after that, both Dan (Mullen) and I really attacked it. I started getting phone calls about being a head coach and thought about what I would do offensively.”
It’s 11 years later, but Meyer is still thinking of ways to improve his offense. One way is to make sure he has the best 11 players on the football field.
Photo by Dan Harker
“Jake Stoneburner is now, we officially moved him out with the receivers,” Meyer said Sunday during Ohio State’s media day in Columbus.
“He’ll practice (with tight ends) at times, because we’ll use him as a surface tight end, but we have two very good tight ends in (Jeff) Heuerman and (Nick) Vannett. So he’s going to be our (Aaron) Hernandez-type guy who can do some things.”
Stoneburner was suspended for the summer, but he’s back with the team now and has been working with the receivers during all of fall camp. Getting Heuerman or Vannett on the field with Stoneburner would mean no Zach Boren, which might explain why Meyer is adamant about getting his fullback the football this season.
“He's a guy that will touch the ball,” Meyer said of Boren, who dropped 20 pounds during the offseason.
“He's an athlete, but I didn't know that. I wanted to evaluate him during spring practice, and I did.”
With Jordan Hall sidelined until at least week two of the season—he says he will be back by week three at the latest—Meyer and coordinator Tom Herman are exhausting all options in their search for a playmaker on offense.
“It’s hard to find that guy,” Meyer said Sunday.
“It’s really hard to find a guy who can do this and also do this.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Meyer said Corey “Philly” Brown has done a “good job” filling in for Hall, and Chris Fields has been “decent,” but the position will have to evolve during his first season at Ohio State.
“Jake Stoneburner in his own way, but it’s not him,” Meyer said.
“It’s not exactly what you want. It’s probably going to be a lot different looking than the other place.”
Freshman cornerback Najee Murray was a guy Meyer had considered for a role on offense, but they have not gone that route because “he might be a guy on defense as well.”
Verlon Reed is coming back from injury, but Meyer said he is more of a vertical stretch guy, similar to Michael Thomas and Devin Smith.
The one guy who might be perfect for the role already has another, much more important, role in Meyer offense: quarterback. Maybe that’s why he is looking for a way to get Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton on the field at the same time this season.
Urban Meyer watches Kenny Guiton
Photo by Jim Davidson
“Braxton doesn’t know it yet, and neither does Kenny, but I have it on a piece of paper,” Meyer said.
“We’ll have that chat probably pretty soon. I just want to see if they keep developing. If both guys are in our best 11, then it’s our job to find a way to get them on the field.”
Meyer said Guiton has “earned consideration” with his performance thus far in the fall, but he hasn’t earned playing time just yet. He can, however, tell a difference in both of his quarterbacks this fall.
“One of the challenges I had for Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton was to throw the ball a little bit, and they have,” Meyer said.
“Not near where we need to be throwing the ball, but much different than what you saw in the spring – much different. I saw a team that went out and worked.”
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