Meyer Racking His Brain After Injury to Hall
By Brandon Castel
Urban Meyer is supposed to be getting some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Photo by Dan Harker
After grinding out his first seven months as Ohio State’s new football coach, Meyer had earned some quiet time before the start of fall camp, and the never-ending grind that will carry Ohio State’s first-year head coach through National Signing Day next February.
Now, that will have to wait. Meyer is learning quickly—or at least being reminded—there is no quiet time, no rest and relaxation, at a place like Ohio State. Especially when seems to be losing playmakers right and left from an offense that was already depleted to start.
“We're not exactly loaded at that position right now, the offensive skill, but some guys have to step up and play,” Meyer said Thursday in the wake of an injury that will sideline senior tailback Jordan Hall for as many as 10 weeks.
“Who's going to take his place? I don't know. We're not loaded at that spot. I'm hoping maybe (Corey) “Philly” Brown continues to improve, but he got banged up in the spring. He has some minor injuries issues, but he should be fine. That’s one of our dilemmas right now.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Meyer was already facing the dilemma of suspending star tight end Jake Stoneburner and starting left tackle Jack Mewhort this summer for their off-the-field issues, when he received a call about the freak injury to Hall.
According to Meyer, who spent the morning co-hosting a free football camp with Eastern Kentucky head coach Dean Hood at the SPIRE Institute near their hometown of Ashtabula, Hall’s injury was worse than it first appeared.
“He stepped on a piece of glass and got 10 or so stitches. A day later he said he was having issues with his toe, he couldn’t move it,” Meyer told Zac Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio following Thursday’s camp in Geneva, Ohio.
“I was hearing this over the phone and (thinking), ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Then he had surgery for a torn tendon.”
It was a tough moment for Meyer, who had been counting on both Hall and Stoneburner to play important roles in his new spread attack at Ohio State this fall. While there is depth behind Stoneburner at tight end, Meyer has not yet figured out who will replace Hall in the ‘hybrid’ position come August 3—the first day of fall camp.
“I spend almost all my time thinking of that, and I was so excited because I thought Jordan had an excellent spring practice,” Meyer said Thursday on a conference call for the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.
“That was a tough injury especially for a guy who’s turned the corner academically. He had a 3.4 GPA last quarter and a 3.0 our first quarter together. He’s on my leadership committee. He’s come forever. The guy’s tremendous.”
That’s not something Meyer would have said about Hall when he first took the job in November, or even after he took full control of the team in January. In fact, Meyer thought Hall should have been a lot better statistically than he was during his first three seasons at Ohio State, but the Jeannette, Pa. native had really turned the corner during the 15 practices back in April.
“He has a lot of the skills we’re looking for in that hybrid position,” Meyer said.
“I was really anxious, we actually started the mental part of it this summer, studying some plays and working with (quarterback) Braxton Miller, so that was a shock.”
Miller had also been working with Stoneburner before he was suspended from all team activities this summer. The fifth-year senior out of Dublin Coffman could be reinstated to the team for the start of fall camp.
Meyer wouldn’t go into much detail about the current status of Stoneburner and Mewhort—both were removed from their athletic scholarship for the summer—but he expects Hall to be on the mend quicker than the 10-week window that is currently being projected.
“I’ve been in this long enough, he’s the kind of warrior who will come back rather quickly if he can,” Meyer said of Hall, who missed the spring game with an unrelated foot injury.
“We’re moving on. I’m planning on him coming back for the season or certainly after the first couple games.”
Until then, the Buckeyes will just have to make do. It’s now up to Meyer—and offensive coordinator Tom Herman—to figure out who else can play that role until Hall returns.
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