Meyer Feeling Good about Buckeyes

Please patronize our advertisers to help
keep free for everyone.

Click here to return to the front page.
Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 08/21/2012 3:37 AM

Follow Brandon
on Twitter
Email Brandon
Share |

Meyer Finally Feeling Good about Buckeyes

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — He probably wouldn’t tell us if he was worried, but Urban Meyer seemed to have a genuine excitement about his football team on Monday.

Urban Meyer
Photo by Jim Davidson
Urban Meyer

It certainly wasn’t an over-excitement, as there are still plenty of issues on Meyer’s mind when it comes to the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes, but the team has come a long way, even from where they were at the end of spring practice.

“Right now, I think the offense will be fairly competent,” Meyer said when asked how he felt about his team coming out of Monday’s practice.

“I can’t say great because I don’t see that now, but I see competency. I see the ball being snapped correctly, I see the offensive line protecting and doing the right things.

“The skill is just starting to improve, and it didn't look that way for the first two weeks of the spring.”

Meyer called his offense a “clown show” and “barely functional” during the early parts of spring practice, but some of that was to be expected. Not only was he implementing a new offensive system designed to bring Ohio State out of the dark ages, Meyer and his staff were working with a young group of players who did not get much experience a year ago.

At least good experience.

“I’m proud of these guys,” Meyer said after practice Monday.

“I like where we’re at right now. We’re certainly not perfect, but our guys are trying and we’re doing decent.

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

The biggest area where Meyer has seen an improvement in his offense this fall is in the passing game, which was exactly the area he had challenged quarterback Braxton Miller – and backup Kenny Guiton – to lead this team during the summer months away from the coaching staff.

“The area where we’ve improved the most is throwing and catching,” Meyer said with a sense of relief.

“Much improved. We couldn’t have gone much the other way. But I tell you, we are much improved.”

That was certainly the case in Ohio State’s live scrimmage over the weekend. The quarterbacks weren’t allowed to get hit, but they also couldn’t use their legs to scramble away from trouble.

Instead, Meyer wanted to see them use their arms, and did they ever.

“We threw the ball really well,” Meyer said of Saturday’s scrimmage.

“Braxton threw for 350 yards. He had a good day. I didn’t realize how good it was until after the scrimmage.”

According to Ohio State, Miller was 27-of-39 passing on Saturday for 358 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Guiton had a pretty good day as well, completing 12 of his 17 passes for 147 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

In wasn’t “ones against ones” for most the morning, but Meyer liked what he saw from the offense, even it was a little bit skewed in Miller’s favor.

“(In the scrimmage) the offense kind of had its way,” Meyer said, in a surprising turnabout from much of spring practice.

“But we did ones vs. twos a lot, so the ones didn’t go against the ones (very often).”

Philly Brown
Photo by Jim Davidson
Philly Brown

One of the guys who really shined for Meyer’s offense on Saturday was wideout Corey “Philly” Brown. The junior out of  Pennsylvania was on the receiving end of at least one of Miller’s touchdown passes over the weekend, and he has come on strong this fall in the absence of Jordan Hall.

“Philly Brown is our No. 1 receiver right now,” Meyer said Monday.

“Devin Smith is doing pretty good. Jake Stoneburner had a good day (on Monday). Michael Thomas had a little bit of an injury, but he’s back full speed. Those, those guys are doing pretty good.”

Meyer has been nothing if not critical of the receivers since he took over the team in January. He inherited a group that really didn’t catch the ball very well a year ago, even when a pass actually did find them in the open field.

Brown and Stoneburner both had some issues with drops in 2011, and Smith was about as inconsistent as one might expect from a true freshman thrust into that type of role at an early age.

What Meyer has seen this fall, however, is a group that is starting to come of age.

“The receivers that have stepped up,” he said.

“I know I have beaten them to death, but they probably deserved it. If you watch film, they weren’t very good. But Devin Smith is doing a nice job.”

Nick Vannett
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nick Vannett

Another guy on offense who caught Meyer’s attention this fall is one of his young tight ends.

“And at tight end, Nick Vannett is doing good,” Meyer said.

“I think I mentioned that before, but he’s a guy that wants to be out there. He’s one of the most-improved guys on the team.”

Vannett has moved into a starting role with Stoneburner now playing a bunch of different spots on the offense, including wide receiver. The redshirt freshman out of Westerville Central still has his hands full, however, with classmate Jeff Heuerman.

“Well, Heuerman had a little bit of a tug on his hamstring, but he’s back full speed now. So, it’s 50/50,” Meyer said.

“Heuerman is a little bit better of a point-of-attack blocker, but he also has skill at catching the ball. So, right now I can’t name a starter because I don’t know who it is.”

The one area where Meyer would like to name a starter is at right tackle, where Reid Fragel continues to battle freshman Taylor Decker for the final starting spot on the offensive line.

“The first-team offensive line is doing a good job,” Meyer said, “but at right tackle, we’ve got to get better.

“Taylor Decker and Reid Fragel that are fighting for that spot and we can’t name a starter right now. We’ve just got to get better at right tackle and those guys are trying, but at times one of those guys looks like a freshman – because he is – and the other guys looks like a guy that just moved from tight end.”

Asked what will make the difference in the next two weeks, Meyer said it’s simple.

“Consistency and toughness,” he said.

“Just be tougher. It’s still fresh in my mind and they got slapped around a little bit (at practice on Monday).”

Donate by Check :

Ozone Communications
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio

Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.

Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.

(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.

Click here to return to the front page.

Front Page Columns and Features