Coming off his team’s 49-28 victory over Maryland, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer addressed the media Monday to discuss the win while also looking ahead to the Buckeyes’ matchup against Penn State on Saturday.
Here are three highlights from the press conference.
Each week, Meyer announces players that he felt graded out as “champions” after analyzing the film from the previous game.
On offense, six offensive players received champion grades.
Two H-backs, redshirt senior Braxton Miller and redshirt sophomore Jalin Marshall, made the cut for their performances against the Terrapins.
Miller had five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown while also taking three carries for 11 yards. Beyond just his receptions, Meyer praised the former quarterback’s blocking on the outside.
On the offensive line, senior left tackle Taylor Decker and senior center Jacoby Boren received champion grades.
Tight ends Marcus Baugh and Nick Vannett also graded out, despite neither recording a reception.
“We’re getting a little more comfort,” Meyer said of the tight end position. “We don’t have much depth, but those two guys are playing okay.”
Both quarterbacks, redshirt junior Cardale Jones and redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett, were named co-offensive players of the game for their efforts against the Terrapins.
Jones threw for a career-high 291 passing yards and two touchdowns, while Barrett, in his newfound role as red zone quarterback, ran for 62 yards and three scores, also completing both of his pass attempts.
Defensively, junior defensive end Joey Bosa, redshirt sophomore cornerback Gareon Conley and redshirt sophomore safety Eli Apple graded out as champions.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Hubbard was defensive player of the game after forcing a fumble, intercepting a pass and tallying three tackles.
“So have a day, Sam, and that was good. Good young guy, incredible player, incredible future,” Meyer said.
Against Maryland, Barrett debuted in the aforementioned role as red zone quarterback. It worked well, as the team scored five touchdowns in as many trips under Barrett’s guidance.
After the game, Meyer was noncommittal about whether using Barrett inside the 20-yard line would continue, but on Monday, he offered a little more of a definitive answer.
“I think so,” Meyer said when asked about the situational use of the redshirt sophomore. “But I’m not writing it in Sharpie yet.”
The coach said that Barrett possess more of a threat on designed quarterback runs compared to Jones, which is why using him in the red zone makes sense.
“Cardale can certainly run, but when you have that threat, you saw it Saturday, and you have to defend that now,” Meyer said.
Meyer said that Jones’ best runs come of scrambles when the pocket collapses, whereas with Barrett, his added quickness makes option plays a part of the playbook.
“In the (quarterback) run, you have to be a little more of a tailback with the niftiness and jump cut and do the things that J.T. does for us,” he said.
In the red zone, having an effective run game is imperative, according to Meyer. But since the field shrinks, it gives defenses an advantage in shutting down the run. So how do you counteract that?
“You run option football or you run the quarterback,” Meyer said.
Team report card
The Buckeyes have had a rocky road so far in 2015, despite being 6-0. However, it looked like the team might be turning a corner after its victory over Maryland.
So heading into a Week 7 matchup against a 5-1 Penn State, what kind of team does Meyer see on film?
“A very good team,” he said.
On defense, Meyer focused on the team giving up a surfeit of rushing yards to Maryland’s Perry Hills.
“That really hurt us,” he said. “The long one was in scramble. The defensive line got out of position, and he took off and ran straight ahead.”
The final box score read 49-28, but Meyer discredited it, as he said he felt like the last touchdown the Terrapins scored late in the game wasn’t truly given up by the defense.
“I disregard the last touchdown against our defense. That was a ridiculous play on offense. The game should have been over,” he said. “The twos and threes were already in the game.
“We gave up 21 points.”
Meyer said offensively this was the best that OSU has looked all season. He applauded the improvement in the red zone and passing game production, while pointing out that the team had no turnovers for only the second time this season.
The only negative he pointed out on offense was the four penalties on the offensive line during the first half.
“I’m pleased with where we’re at,” he said.