COLUMBUS — Don’t lose momentum.
That was the message Ohio State coach Urban Meyer sent the Buckeyes during an off week last week and while they practiced for Saturday night’s game against Minnesota.
“It all depends on what kind of team you have,” Meyer said on his weekly radio show on 97.1 FM. “There have been times on bye weeks where you have four days of practice. If you’re not very good or young or soft, you have to beat them up a little.
“A veteran team that kind of had momentum, the whole message is ‘Don’t lose momentum,’ ” he said.
Probably the biggest reason for concern about losing momentum is the absence of quarterback J.T. Barrett, who is suspended for this week’s game after being cited for operating a vehicle under the influence early last Saturday morning.
Ohio State’s offense was obviously much more efficient with Barrett dominating the playing time at quarterback in a 38-10 win over Penn State and starting in a 49-7 win over Rutgers than it was with Cardale Jones as the starter.
Jones’ return to the starting lineup this week has not seemed to be a big issue with OSU’s players, Meyer said.
“I think this team has been through so much, it’s just time to go,” he said. “I think they’re aware of it because it was such a news story but I think everyone is focused on doing their jobs. I haven’t felt it at all,” he said.
DOUBLE DUTY: Braxton Miller has been practicing at both receiver and quarterback this week since he is expected to be the back-up quarterback against Minnesota.
“There’s a lot going on. He works with (quarterbacks coach) Tim Beck for a while and then goes over to H-back. It’s a busy week,” Meyer said.
HEADING FOR REDSHIRTS: Two highly regarded freshmen, running back Mike Weber and receiver K.J. Hill, appear likely to be red-shirted.
“Both those guys have probably earned the right to be out there but you hate to waste a year. They’re officially listed as ‘on call,’ ” Meyer said.
DEFENSIVE LINE QUESTIONS: Nose tackle Tommy Schutt will not play again this week after having wrist surgery and Meyer is not happy with what he has gotten from Schutt’s replacements.
“I think Joel Hale gives us everything he’s got but we still need more there. We need more from Mike Hill. He’s OK. Donovan Munger, we need more
“They’re hard-working, good guys. But we just need more. Some of them are still young but tick, tick, tick, the clock is running.”
SUSPENDED OR NOT?: Defensive back Damon Webb, who has not played since the second game of the season against Hawaii, is back this week but the reason he has not been with the team since then is murkier than ever.
Ohio State handed out a press release before a game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 19 saying Webb had been suspended for a violation of athletic department rules.
But Meyer has said twice this week that Webb was not suspended. “He’s not suspended. I can’t get into it. We didn’t suspend him. He was not allowed to participate,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.