COLUMBUS – Urban Meyer went deep into the depth chart at his first weekly press conference of the football season on Monday.
One of his biggest hopes for the season, starting with the opener at Indiana on Thursday night, probably is that the Buckeyes receivers can also go deep.
While every other position on offense lists one clear starter, the depth chart shows an either-or situation at the three wide receiver spots with two names listed for each.
At H-back, the starter is listed as Parris Campbell or K.J. Hill. Austin Mack or Benjimen Victor could be the starter at one wide receiver position and Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin are both listed as starters at the other wideout.
So, does this mean OSU is still searching for answers in what was one of its biggest problem areas a year ago or does it indicate the Buckeyes have depth at receiver and the deep ball will return to its offense?
Meyer sidestepped a question about whether Ohio State has found a No. 1, go-to receiver by praising the depth of the receiver group.
“This is as much depth as we’ve had but I can’t tell you the guy,” he said. “I can tell you six people that will play in a pure rotation basis. That’s how much confidence we have in them.”
Ohio State’s offense as a whole struggled in its last three games last season, scoring only three touchdowns in regulation in a 19-17 win over Michigan State, a 30-27 double overtime win over Michigan and a 31-0 loss to Clemson in a College Football Playoff Semifinal.
Meyer said he was already thinking about what needed to be done this year to remedy those problems as he walked off the field after the loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
“We get evaluated and tested here in a few days. That thought was exactly what I was thinking and (about) what I had to do as the head coach to make sure we head in that direction,” he said.
“I feel comfortable with the progress we’ve made. To say I’m confident, I’m just sort of a worrier to make sure we’re covering everything we need to win a game.”
Some other thoughts from Meyer:
WHITE ON TRAVEL SQUAD: Freshman safety Brendon White, son of Lima Senior graduate and four-year Ohio State starter William White, will be among the freshman on the traveling squad for the Indiana game, Meyer said.
BIG STRIDES BY BOWEN: Sophomore Branden Bowen, who won the competition to start at right guard over several players, made a big improvement since last season to win that job, Meyer said.
“He’s the most improved guy, one of the most improved players on our team. Something clicked with him about early summer. I heard it from Coach Mick (strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti). I saw it.
“It really wasn’t that close to be honest with you. (Matthew Burrell) was very close to him but Bowen did a very nice job.”
IN A BUBBLE: Meyer started his press conference by saying that he was unaware until Monday morning how devastating Hurricane Harvey had been in Houston.
“I was in a cocoon and tied up in training camp and didn’t realize the issues going on in Houston and the surrounding area,” he said.
Meyer said he called the family of cornerback Kendall Sheffield after learning of the flooding and other damage done by the hurricane. Sheffield’s family is in Missouri City, Tex., which is located in the southwest part of the Houston metropolitan area.
He also said he tried to call former OSU coach and player Mike Vrabel, who is now the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans.
WEBER NOT DEFINITE YET: Asked if running back Mike Weber is back to 100 percent after having problems with a hamstring during training camp, Meyer said, “He’s very close. I’ll know more today (Monday) but he’s close.”
Asked if freshman J.K. Dobbins could start instead of Weber if he is not completely over the hamstring issue, Meyer said, “I don’t think we’re there yet but I’ll know more today.”