Speaking from the team meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer held his weekly press conference on Monday where he fielded questions from reporters and talked about Braxton Miller, Jack Mewhort, his linebackers and more.
Meyer on his quarterback, Braxton Miller, who was just 1-of-4 passing for 17 yards with one touchdown in Ohio State’s 17-7 upset win over No. 16 Illinois in 2011, the last time the Buckeyes made the trip to Champaign on a very windy day:
COACH MEYER: “It’s been a while since I’ve been there. I think many times you play in this part of the country that you have to be prepared for that. I can assure you that we’re in a much different place than he was two years ago. And I can see that.
Braxton would be the first one to tell you, Braxton at this point last year we weren’t real fired up at times throwing the ball.
If you remember against Wisconsin, but it’s a whole different, we’re in a completely different mindset. I have complete confidence in both our quarterbacks and our guys behind them. Excuse me, the guys catching the passes. It’s apples to oranges, completely different scenario.”
Meyer on senior offensive tackle Jack Mewhort:
COACH MEYER: “Jack Mewhort has turned himself into a definite high level pro prospect. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve been around. He’s a tough guy that I like to think that people would say that Ohio State is a tough program and he’s kind of the benchmark. Our strength coach has great respect for him for the way he handles his business all the way around.
And he’s certainly lived up to his expectation level, maybe even a little bit more, which his expectation level is very high.
Meyer gave an injury update on linebackers Josh Perry and Curtis Grant:
COACH MEYER: “Josh Perry had surgery on a dislocated finger. Practiced full speed today, practiced all last week. He’s fine. In a little bit of a splint right now.
Curtis Grant did not practice today. We expect him back tomorrow. His was an ankle sprain and low back, but he should be ready to go by tomorrow.”
Meyer on his linebacking corps:
COACH MEYER: “Ryan Shazier is starting to play at a very high level which we expected. Early in the season he was not. He’s playing at a pretty good level right now. It’s just the depth.
And I like the fact Curtis Grant has played pretty good. Still not to Ohio State standards. Banged up a little bit in his first year of playing. But he’s been very adequate at that position. We need more, though, and he’s going to give us more.
And Josh Perry has been developed recently. Starting the season nowhere what we expect from a Ohio State linebacker. But his last few weeks of practice and certainly in the games has played very well.
The depth is a major concern. We’re nowhere where we need to be as far as the expectation level of the linebacker play here. When you think of the great linebackers that have arguably the last decade as good as a linebacker as ever in the country played at Ohio State, and we need to get back to that.”
Meyer on comparing last year’s team to this year’s squad:
COACH MEYER: “We’re a better team. We’re a better functioning team. I don’t want to have ever disrespect our seniors because they were such an incredible group of players. And they’re really good players, too. So we’re just more functional certainly on offense. On defense I’m not sure we’re quite as good. Remember this time last year is when we hit the accelerator and we played excellent defense.
We are playing, I understand, we’re top 10 in the country in defense, rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense. That’s pretty good with replacing nine starters.
So we are getting a little better on defense. Comparing the teams last year, I think that’s interesting conversation, but we’re just more functional certainly on offense.
We’re much better on offense than we were a year ago. Defensively, so I’m not sure. And special teams, we’re much better this year.”
Meyer on playing to win or “style points” in the BCS race:
COACH MEYER: “It’s win the game. But the message is you have to play great. We do. I mean, you’re held to be even mentioned with those other teams, be careful what you wish for. That means you have to practice and play at a certain level. So that’s all I mentioned to our team.
We practiced at a very, very high level today. And I expect them to play we all expect them to play, they expect to play at a very high level, because you’re in the same breath with some very, very good teams.
And to maintain that status you have to play very well. Very well.”