Two-Minute Drill: Updates from Monday's Media Luncheon
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer and his coordinators spoke at their weekly Monday media session, signaling the official start of game week for the Buckeyes.
Buffalo comes to the Horseshoe on Saturday, and while they will pose some issues for Ohio State, the focus this week was on the Buckeyes themselves.
Urban Meyer Updates
* According to Meyer, the team is relatively healthy. They will practice today in full pads. The vote for captains will be held later on Monday.
* Meyer said that he is more comfortable with the team as a whole than he was a week or two ago, but they are still solidifying the linebacker situation. Curtis Grant has missed some practices, but he is catching up quickly, per Meyer.
* Meyer said that the offensive line is "very good", and that the receivers group is one of the most improved units on the team. He also mentioned that he is interested to see how punter Cameron Johnston reacts in his first game.
* Meyer said that while the defensive line is young, they are ready to go.
* Meyer also mentioned that nickel back Tyvis Powell continues to play well and will be getting his first college start on Saturday.
* Meyer said that while the offensive line hasn't had enough time together during camp, they are veterans, so they should be okay. He mentioned again how Corey Linsley's injury has actually helped the depth on the offensive line.
* Meyer said that Jacoby Boren and Pat Elflein will both see time on the offensive line this year, and he has more confidence than ever in Darryl Baldwin. He said they are much deeper on the offensive line than he thought they would be. Kyle Dodson is also coming along, and he's very close to having Meyer's full confidence. Meyer added that he didn't think he'd feel that way about these guys a year ago.
* When asked which freshmen will definitely play this season, Meyer cited Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott immediately, then added Joey Bosa "for sure" and that he's hoping Michael Hill will play.
* Meyer said that he hopes Braxton Miller doesn't lead the team in rushing this season, and that if he does, then it means that something isn't going well.
* He said he was looking forward to seeing the reaction of Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott the first time they get out onto the field.
* Meyer said that Dontre Wilson would be returning the opening kickoff for the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes.
* Meyer said that Jordan Hall is the best running back on the team right now, and he'd have to do something to lose that job.
* He also said that Ezekiel Elliott will be carrying the ball on Saturday.
* Meyer said that he's excited to have two night games in the Horseshoe this year because the atmosphere at night has been "magical". Plus, it helps with recruiting because he ran into situations last season where recruits couldn't make it to the noon kickoffs.
* Meyer said that Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack is one of the best linebackers in the nation. He can rush off of the edge and create havoc. He said the entire defense is unique and difficult to plan for. He called their defense "a pain in the butt".
* He expects the Buckeyes to have to adjust to both Buffalo's offense and defense, and that eventually things will settle down as the game goes along.
Tom Herman Updates
* Herman was asked if this team needs the type of great leadership that they had last year. His answer, "All great teams need great leadership." He said that they've got 8-12 guys who are on the fringe of being great leaders, but they're not there yet.
* He said the offense won't look much different than last year, but the distribution of the ball and the play selection will be a bit different.
* When asked about the offensive tempo, he said that they would never be a 90-100 snap team. But added that they are now better at going fast than they've ever been.
* On redshirt freshman quarterback Cardale Jones, Herman said, "His good is really, really good, but his bad is really, really bad." He said that was improving, however. He is the team's #3 quarterback right now. The hope is for true freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett to redshirt this season.
* Herman said that the one area where Braxton Miller has improved the most is the confidence that he has in himself. That confidence allows him to remain calm under pressure, which also allows him to stay fundamentally sound.
* He said that they have four wide receivers that he would consider starters: Philly Brown, Evan Spencer, Devin Smith and Chris Fields. He said Brown is a guy who can flip inside and outside, whereas Fields is a guy who will work mostly inside, and Smith and Spencer are outside guys.
* He also added that Michael Thomas, Corey Smith and James Clark are all fighting to be the #5 receiver. He said that freshman Jalin Marshall has some catching up to do because he was injured, but the plan is to get him on the field.
* Herman also said that "we'll sprinkle in some Dontre Wilson in there as well." He added, "He's gonna touch the ball. We'd be foolish not to have him touch the ball." Wilson's implementation will be small initially.
* When asked about the running back, Herman said, "You feed the guy that needs to get fed." He said that whoever is playing best will get the ball. He also added that he didn't want to share the RB hierarchy at the moment, but that Jordan Hall would be #1.
* Asked if this offense is now fully loaded, he said that he wouldn't ever say that, but they're closer than they've ever been.
* Echoing previous statements, Herman said they have to temper the creativity a little because Ohio State has an identity that has worked, and he doesn't want to overcoach them out of that identity. He said, "Let's do what we're really, really good at."
* Herman said that the Buffalo defense is very unique and difficult to prepare for. They play a 3-3 stack defense with three linemen, three linebackers and three safeties. The cornerbacks cover half of the field and they rely on the safeties to help in run support.
* On Mack, Herman said, "He's an extremely talented player. He poses some matchup issues."
* Much of the focus on Saturday is minimizing negative plays. Herman said that they gave up too many sacks last year, and they want to negate that this season.
* Herman isn't looking for a point total to make him happy on Saturday, he just wants the offense to be very, very sound and fundamental. They weren't last year, and they have a chance to be this year.
Luke Fickell Updates
* He said that you never really know what to expect from an opponent in game one, so you have to make sure that you focus on what you do well. Be prepared for everything, and then you have to be able to read and react.
* Fickell is hoping that they put the defense in as many difficult positions as possible during camp, which would make Saturday seem easier by comparison.
* Asked about Curtis Grant, he said, "We'll see." He has come a long way, and given that he's a junior he should be able to catch up quickly after missing time with an injury.
* Fickell said that they haven't done a ton of live tackling in practice, and they haven't tackled the quarterback. So in week one you're always anxious as to how things are going to go in that regard. He did say that leverage shouldn't be an issue as it was early last year.
* Fickell said that he feels great about the front seven, adding, "We played against a really good offense."
* Fickell said that the biggest thing for the front seven is that they all have confidence. He also said that Ryan Shazier has continued to become more of a linebacker. He's thinking like a linebacker now, and he's adding that to his ability to make plays.
* Fickell said that they're not looking for the best 11, they're looking for the 11 best. Yep.
* Asked if Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington would play well enough to be talked about across the country, Fickell said, "I think they will."
* Fickell said that "leaders" is a buzz word right now, but the reality is that they will lead as a group. Different guys will step up at different times. He said they need every one of these guys, but they need them to lead themselves first.
* Asked if anybody on the defense has the leadership traits of John Simon, he said, "I think there's a bunch of guys that have got it." He added that Simon was great because he was consistent, so leaders have to be consistent before they can actually become leaders.
Ryan Shazier Updates
* Much was made of the pressure that Ryan Shazier said he was under over the last few weeks, but he said that he has been talking to the coaches a lot more since then and that has relieved his stress. He's been playing much better the last week or two. He said that he had gotten pretty stressed, but he's calmed way down of late.
* He is more focused on the team now, which has helped him relieve some stress. He added that last season helped his confidence because of how well he played and the attention that he received.
* Shazier said the defense is quicker, faster and more aggressive at the point of attack than last year. His only concern on the defense is at linebacker. He has no concerns in the front four or the secondary.
* On advice he would give to the young players, he said just go hard for 4-6 seconds and eventually the butterflies will go away.
* He said the confidence of the offense is much higher than a year ago and they've made the defense better through camp.
* Asked about Dontre Wilson and the freshmen, he said that he's excited to see them out there. He said that they were "shocked and surprised" by them in practice, and that he "can't wait for the world to watch."
* On the targeting rule, he said that they're just going to play football. If they worry too much about the rule, then they'll miss tackles.
* Shazier said that he doesn't feel there will be any tackling issues.
* On Buffalo, he said that Buffalo has a really good running back, and some weapons at receiver. They have to stop the running game first, however.
C.J. Barnett Updates
* Barnett said that there is a little bit of pressure on the secondary because of the young front four, but he said that he has nothing but confidence in the defensive line.
* He said that he can't wait to play somebody other than his teammates. "It's time to take it out on somebody else."
* He said that he wants the Buckeyes to "leave a great impression on the world" this week.
* On the planned usage of dime packages, Barnett said that he thinks it's awesome. They haven't had enough defensive backs to play it much during his time at Ohio State.
* On Jordan Hall, he said that he's really short, but also very strong. He can shake you or run you over.
* Asked what it will be like for Dontre Wilson to be out there for the opening kickoff, he said he didn't know because when he was a true freshman he "was waving a towel". He did add that Wilson will just need to take a deep breath and remember that he's out there for a reason, so obviously the coaches have faith in him.
* He said that Wilson is very humble and accepts a lot of coaching. He told the media on hand to keep hyping him up, and hopefully he lives up to it.
* Barnett said that Braxton Miller is a great leader and has matured a lot since last year.
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