COLUMBUS – Urban Meyer found lots to talk about from last Saturday’s win over Penn State at his weekly Monday press conference, which stretched out to 24 minutes, around 10 minutes longer than average.
To the surprise of no one, he announced quarterback J.T. Barrett as the Offensive Player of the Week in OSU’s come-from-behind 39-38 win over Penn State and the four defensive ends – Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa – as the Defensive Players of the Week.
In fact, he said all nine units of the team were graded as “champions.” The nine units are: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties. Special teams are not among the nine.
Next up for No. 3 OSU (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) is a trip to Iowa (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) for a 3:30 p.m game on Saturday.
The Hawkeyes’ most impressive win, which looks better now than it did when it happened, is a 44-41 overtime win over Iowa State. It also lost 21-19 to Penn State on a Trace McSorley touchdown pass in the final seconds.
More thoughts from Meyer:
PUNT BLOCK GAMBLE: Denzel Ward’s game-changing blocked punt with Penn State on Ohio State’s 43-yard line early in the fourth quarter was not a call Meyer makes often.
“Normally we don’t do it in that position on the field because if you run into them it’s a nightmare,” he said.
Blocked punts have become a rarity in college football, so Meyer was asked why this attempt worked.
“Well, the guy who blocked it can run like the speed of sound. The execution was impeccable. And Damon Arnette had as much to do with it as Denzel,” he said.
ADDRESSING KICKOFF PROBLEMS: Ohio State kickoff special teams unit continued to struggle with kicking and covering kicks against Penn State.
At one point on Monday, Meyer referred to the situation as “a joke.”
“We had a meeting this morning. We’re trying to figure it out. You look at two things. You look at the scheme. We’ve adjusted the scheme somewhat. You look at our kickers.
“I’d kick it out of the end zone every time. We’re the only team in America that can’t kick it out of the end zone, even with the wind at our back. It’s not because of not telling them to kick it out of the end zone,” he said.
KICKOFF TIME: Ohio State’s home game against Michigan State on Nov. 11 will kick off at noon and will be televised by FOX.
This Saturday’s game against Iowa, which some people thought would be a prime time game, will start at 3:30.
Meyer said recently that he thought there were too many night games away from home. So did his comments have anything to do with OSU’s kickoff times this week and next week?
“I don’t have any idea,” he said. “But I think that’s something in the offseason there’s going to be a lot of conversation about with our commissioner and with our presidents,” Meyer said. “I certainly think a few night games are great. But when you start talking about four (road night games), that’s too many.”
NO WORRIES ABOUT PRINCE: Right tackle Isaiah Prince was the obvious weak link on Ohio State’s offensive line in 2016, especially against quality competition like Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Clemson.
But after a good effort from Prince against Penn State, Meyer said Prince had moved past the struggles of last season and is a reliable player.
“I couldn’t be more proud. You should have seen him in the locker room and on the sideline. It was a grown man. It was the maturation process.”
Meyer indicated that part of Prince’s struggles last year came because he was forced into the lineup before he was ready.
“He’s unbelievable now. I’m not worried about Isaiah at all,” Meyer said. “He’s a grown man, handling his stuff the way a right offensive tackle at Ohio State should.”
CAMPBELL UNCERTAIN: Wide receiver Parris Campbell is “questionable” for Saturday’s game after being injured early in the win over Penn State last week.
“He got dinged on a kickoff return,” Meyer said.
FULLER IMPRESSES MEYER: Meyer has liked what he has seen from safety Jordan Fuller in his first season as a starter.
“Jordan Fuller is starting to be a really good player for us,” Meyer said.
MEYER TRUSTS ASSISTANTS: When asked about how the playing time and carries are divided between running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber is evaluated, Meyer said he leaves that up to offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and running backs coach Tony Alford.
“I don’t micro manage. That’s up to Kevin Wilson and Tony Alford to determine. They (Dobbins and Weber) are both practicing hard. You’d like to get them more caries,” Meyer said.