Speaking with reporters on Monday, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer surprised nobody when he said the Buckeye defense was ahead of the offense at the moment.
Breaking in a new starting quarterback alone can set an offense back. Now imagine having to deal with a three-man competition at the position as well.
Ohio State returns all of their running backs and receivers, but the veterans aren’t given the same workload as the young players in camp. They already have enough miles on their tires, so they aren’t asked to run as much of the race. The same goes for the offensive line as well.
Sure, there are veterans getting a break on defense as well, but the depth they have there is quite a bit different. And it is showing.
“Just the amount of new players out there. I think the defense is way ahead of the offense,” Meyer said. “You’re also being cautious with guys like Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones, so we’re developing depth on the defensive line. And the linebackers, you get one of your best players who is going to miss several months with Tuf [Borland].
“I’m actually pleased. Our safety position is not solid. The one is, Jordan Fuller. We have to keep him healthy because he’s playing excellent right now. We don’t have mistakes at corner. We have a very good rotation at corner right now.
“So there are so many strengths on defense right now. Offensively you’re trying to find the right five up front, and that’s hard with Michael Jordan who is not practicing, and there is one other in [Branden] Bowen. Then you also have K.J. Hill, and I’m protecting Parris [Campbell] and Terry [McLaurin].
“So it’s a little herky-jerky out there. The answer is go play those guys and put them in harm’s way too much. We’re not going to do that. We just have to fight through it.”
The age-old paradox for all coaches is that when one group is playing, are they happy about that, or are they upset that the other group isn’t matching them?
For instance, if OSU’s pass rush is dominating the pass blocking right now, is that because of the talent and skill of the defensive line, or is it because there is an issue with pass blocking.
Meyer looks at such things when evaluating how camp is going.
“I think it comes down to match ups,” he said. “If the defense is playing well because of very good players and defeating blocks and all that, [that’s good]. If it’s because of chaos and missed assignments or because a guy’s just getting whooped, then that’s tough.”
Urban Meyer and his staff have been through too many camps to get worried at this point. In fact, they expected to have some struggles.
“Defenses should be ahead of the offense really all the way through training camp and all the way through spring unless you get really established players,” he said. “I’m fine. I’ve done this long enough that it’s all part of the process growing up.”