Two-Minute Drill: Updates from the Urban Meyer Call-In Show
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer's weekly hour-long call-in show on the Ohio State IMG Sports Network took place on Thursday, but was a bit different than past shows. Due to a cold, Meyer was only in studio for 30 minutes. For the second half of the show running backs coach Stan Drayton and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell stepped in. Among the topics discussed were the upcoming game against Purdue, last week's game against Penn State, Carlos Hyde's present and Dontre Wilson's future. Here are the highlights.
Urban Meyer Updates
* Meyer said he expected his team to start fast last Saturday night because of the atmosphere. He said the catapult was Pitt Brown's interception. He said they had to see a response like that from their pass defense. He said pass defense starts with the pass rush, and they couldn't afford to leave Christian Hackenberg back there without pressuring him.
* Meyer said that Noah Spence works very hard, and what he did against Penn State “should be happening”. He said they need to continue putting Spence in a position to make plays.
* Meyer said “Braxton's officially a quarterback now at Ohio State.” He said last year he was an athlete playing quarterback. He said he's not perfect yet, but he knows where he's lacking and he improves at it every day.
* Meyer attributed Braxton Miller's 70% completion percentage to an improvement in the receiver group because there are now players to throw the ball to. Last year they didn't have the luxury of throwing as much because they didn't have enough confidence in them last year. He also said Miller is fundamentally night and day better than he was a year ago.
* Meyer said that C.J. Barnett has been “all in” since Meyer's arrived. He said last year Barnett missed too many tackles last year and wasn't as aggressive as he'd like. He said this year Barnett is playing like an All-Big Ten safety. “He's always been a leader.”
* He said the offensive line is a unique group. “Every day in practice you can't wait to see those five.” He said he couldn't use the language he would like to describe what Marcus Hall used to be, and how far he has come to what he is now.
* Meyer said that Carlos Hyde owes a lot of his success to the offensive line. He said the chemistry with the offensive line, the running backs and the quarterbacks is very good right now and fun to watch.
* Meyer said Dontre Wilson continues to improve, and they will continue to increase his load weekly. “Ultimately, he will be a hybrid. We're teaching him some inside runs right now.” What they're going to be asking him to do, Meyer said there are very few guys in the country who can do what Wilson will be doing.
* Meyer said the receivers have all taken to run blocking, because they know if they aren't good blockers, they won't play.
* Meyer said Purdue's defense has been pretty good the last two weeks. They've switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in mid-season, which is very rare. They blitz 60-70% of the time now. They've had two bye weeks in the last four weeks, and Meyer said Purdue has made a good decision with their changes because it's a pain in the butt to prepare for.
* Meyer said there is definitely a respect factor when it comes to Purdue because the players have lost to them in the past, and essentially lost to them last year as well.
* Meyer: “There's too much on the line right now and I'd be devastated if we didn't come out and play one of our best games.”
* Meyer said the kickoff return game was improved last week, and he'd like to see continued improvement there. He's also hoping for some punt return opportunities for Philly Brown this week.
* Meyer said they use shots of the Ohio State crowd in Cal's stadium for recruiting purposes, displaying the fan support that they have around the nation.
Stan Drayton Updates
* Drayton said that Carlos Hyde has momentum going on that he hasn't seen before in Hyde's career. He said Hyde isn't taking anything for granted, because this is his last go round. “He's doing everything right right now. His work ethic on the football field as improved. His commitment to this football program has improved. All of the potential is there. To see the light finally come on for him is incredible.”
* Drayton said that when Hyde gets tired, he knows he can't sit too long because if another running back gets a rhythm, Drayton will stay with that back.
* He said if you study year two of Urban Meyer's system wherever he's been, there has been an “explosion” in offensive output, and you're seeing it this year as well.
* Asked about Carlos Hyde not yet being tackled for a loss, Drayton said when you let 235 pounds of muscle get momentum, it's hard to stop him in the backfield.
* Drayton said the success with the running game is tied in with the success in the passing game. Defenders can't put eight in the box this year because the passing game is better. Basically, they can do whatever they want, and choose the mismatches they prefer at any one time.
* Drayton said in studying Purdue's change to 3-4 he said you have to study why they went to that system, and how the players fit what they're doing now. He said he knows they're going to see something that they haven't prepared for, but with a veteran offense, it makes it easier to adjust.
* Drayton said the history in West Lafayette has not been good for Ohio State, but the players have a more important purpose because they're chasing something bigger, so they won't be overlooking Purdue.
* Drayton said Ohio State has momentum right now on the recruiting trail. “It doesn't hurt when you have Buckeye Nation out there in all 50 states.”
Luke Fickell Updates
* Fickell said they pressured Christian Hackenberg very well, and better than they pressured Jake Rudock the week before. He said it comes down to making plays, and they made more plays rushing the passer last week.
* Fickell said it's an entire team effort in replacing Christian Bryant and his leadership, and even falls on the coaches as well.
* Fickell said Ryan Shazier has grown as a leader and is always talking now, and sometimes he has to tell Shazier that it's okay to just lead by example at times.
* Fickell said he puts pressure on Curtis Grant every day, but always tells him to remember his passion and energy, because there's no substitute for that. He said he doesn't have any issues playing Trey Johnson at this point. He said Johnson has natural linebacker instincts.
* Fickell said he doesn't know why Purdue always plays them tough, especially in West Lafayette.
* Fickell said he can't complain with the way his defense practices. He said there are things you worry about as a coach, but the way they prepare and practice isn't one of them.
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