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Now we're going to touch on the status of a couple of Ohio State's top targets in the 2014 and 2015 classes.
We'll start of with Hinesville (GA) Liberty County linebacker Raekwon McMillan who is the Buckeye's top remaining target in the 2014 class.
Recently there have been reports that Clemson has gained ground in the race for the five-star linebacker, which has reflected on the 247Sports Crystal Ball as four of the last seven predictions have been for the Tigers – mostly from Clemson writers though.
Despite these reports, I'm still pretty confident that Raekwon will be a Buckeye when he announces his decision on December 16th.
Next is junior college offensive tackle Chad Mavety who took his official visit to Columbus last weekend to watch the Bucks take on Indiana.
I briefly spoke to Chad about his visit and he told me it went really well. He is down to Florida State and Ohio State and added that he is very close to making his college decision. He said it's probably only a couple of weeks away. I think this weekend helped solidify the lead for the Bucks.
You still can't count the Seminoles out of this race, but I would be mildly surprised if Mavety didn't announce for the Scarlet and Gray sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Palm Beach Gardens (FL) Dwyer wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and Durham (NC) Hillside wide receiver Trevion Thompson are the two wide receivers left on Ohio State board that the Bucks have the best chance at landing.
Earlier this week, Dixon revealed that he would be announcing his college decision on December 8th, which is just a little over a week away. Right now I have Dixon projected to Ohio State, but it's not a pick I'm super confident on. Miami definitely poises the biggest threat to the Buckeyes in this race. Alabama is also still in the race. The 5-foot-10-inch, 187 pound wideout took his official to Ohio State for the Wisconsin game at the end of September.
While I've seen a couple of Crystal Ball picks pegging Trevion Thompson to OSU over the past couple of days, I don't think this is very likely. Clemson has been in the driver's seat for the duration of this race and I don't think much has changed recently. If Dixon goes elsewhere, I think this would be more likely, but for now I'm sticking with the Clemson Tigers in this race. He officially visited OSU last weekend for the Indiana game.
To wrap things up, Jerome Baker, who in my opinion is the top player in the state of Ohio's 2015 class, finally named the Buckeyes as his leader when we spoke earlier in the week. I think it's not if, but when Baker become a member of the 2015 class. His visit last weekend went very well.
Finally, here are my latest predictions to close out the 2014 recruiting class:
1. ATH Marshon Lattimore
2. S Erick Smith
3. ILB Raekwon McMillan
4. OT Chad Mavety
5. DE Solomon Thomas
6. WR Johnnie Dixon
7. S Mike Rogers...
The Raekwon McMillan recruiting circus continues to move along and the new development seems to be heading in favor of the Clemson Tigers, however I'm still not putting Dabo Sweeney and company at the top of the list. As we've seen throughout the fall, McMillan has taken several visits to Death Valley, but that can largely be due to the fact it's a short trip from his hometown. The longer it takes the five-star linebacker to make his decision, the higher chance new droppings, like this, will continue to pop up. Ohio State has felt good about their chances for awhile and have seemed to be in the driver's seat for most of the process. As this one continues to play out and we get closer to the middle of December, when a likely announcement is expected, the momentum should start to get back to the Buckeyes.
Five-star linebacker, Justin Hilliard will be in attendance when the Buckeyes visit the Wolverines on Saturday. A huge Ohio State target foe 2015, the Buckeyes have put themselves in a great position for the Ohio native, and though it's a Michigan visit, he'll have a chance to see Urban Meyer's Buckeyes first hand, yet again, in a big time setting. It was previously thought that he would use this weekend to make the trip to the Iron Bowl for the Alabama-Auburn game. At the moment, it seems to be an Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State battle for the 6'2 linebacker and the contender list will only expand as we enter into the winter time.
A 2015 target that looks like the Buckeye's to lose is offensive tackle Drew Richmond. From Tennessee, Richmond visited Columbus on September 28th and would be a huge get to add to a 2015 class that has potential to be one of the nation's tops. He's not a Buckeye, at the moment, but he's already embracing the rivalry.
I get the ? the Buckeyes are doing now. Beat that team up north !! ??🙉🙏??
With Lonnie Johnson's decommitment a few weeks ago, it opened the door for Ohio State to add another receiver. Among the targets is Trevion Thompson, a 6'3 prospect from North Carolina. Thompson has elite size and would a viable option for Ohio State moving forward. He's also rated a the 122nd best prospect in 247Sports composite rankings. Check out his recently released senior highlights.
Another wide out, and arguably one of the better athletes in the country, that the Buckeyes would love to get their hands on is Johnnie Dixon. Miami and Alabama have went back and forth for the top spot for months, but Ohio State has always been in the picture. His decision will come December 8th and the Buckeyes are in a firm position to grab the Dwyer High School stand out.
Thought on Johnnie Dixon: I think #OhioState is in the lead right now, based on what I'm hearing. #Canes#Bama
The Ohio State Buckeyes still find themselves ranked No. 3 and on the outside looking in this week, but they’re inching closer to the top two teams. Alabama (.9881) is still firmly in control of the top spot, but Florida State (.9697) could now be within striking distance for Ohio State (.9200), if a matrix of fortunate events comes together over the next two weeks.
Most would point out obviously that the Buckeyes need some help from above, whether from the Crimson Tide, Seminoles or a higher power. But what if I told you that even if both of the top two win out, Ohio State could still have a chance at jumping FSU with the help of three lower-ranked teams?
Here’s how the fortuitous chain of events must play out. First, No. 10 South Carolina needs to beat No. 6 Clemson handily in their season finale next weekend. Right now, FSU’s 51-14 win at Clemson is the foundation of its BCS resume, considering the rest of the schedule has been pretty soft. If the Gamecocks take down the Tigers, it would diminish that win and the Seminoles’ overall resume.
Fast forward one week to No. 11 Michigan State’s regular season finale against Minnesota. Ohio State would like nothing more than to see the Spartans win big and move into the top 10 heading into the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes would then have a shot at notching their first win over a top-10 opponent this season, which would provide a significant boost to their chances of leaping over FSU.
Our tale now takes us from the Midwest to the Arizona desert and the Pac 12 title game. The Buckeyes have a vested interest here as well, needing No. 12 Arizona State to take down No. 8 Stanford. Remember when the Sun Devils’ controversial 32-30 win over No. 15 Wisconsin? That and a 31-24 loss to Ohio State are the Badgers’ only blemishes, both of which were on the road.
If ASU becomes Pac-12 champs, Winconsin’s resume would gain strength, and so in turn would the Buckeyes’.
Even if everything falls into place, it’s unclear whether it would be enough to help Ohio State leapfrog Florida State. The Seminoles have games against 4-7 Florida and the winner of the ACC Coastal remaining. Only one of FSU’s potential ACC title game opponents, No. 24 Duke, is currently ranked in the BCS Standings, so it’s unlikely that the Noles can improve their resume much from here on.
OSU is closer to the top-two in the BCS Standings than it has been at any point this year. If the Buckeyes win out impressively and get a little help from below, they may not be the odd team out on bowl selection Sunday after all.
25 words or fewer Buckeyes need one upset to get where they want to go, as long as they take care of the Michigan brothers the next two weeks.
In the BCS/polls
Because of Baylor’s blowout loss at Oklahoma State, the Buckeyes — carrying a 23-game winning streak into a game on Saturday at Michigan and having clinched a spot in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 7 against Michigan State — have breathing room at No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. But Ohio State needs No.?1 Alabama or No.?2 Florida State to stumble to reach the national championship game.
The running game. In the past four games, the Buckeyes have averaged 376.3 yards rushing, the lowest output being 311 yards in the snow and cold on Saturday against Indiana. Carlos Hyde passed 1,000 yards, becoming the first running back of an Urban Meyer-coached team to do so, and stands at 1,064 in just eight games this season. And look who is galloping up from behind. Quarterback Braxton Miller has 328 yards rushing in the past two games and 738 in nine games this season.
What’s not hot?
The passing game, which has been brutal outside the past two Saturdays. Miller had two touchdown passes against Indiana, one on a 39-yard post route to Devin Smith, the only receiver to catch a pass for positive yardage against the Hoosiers, and one on a short forward flip in the backfield to Dontre Wilson that he took for 24 yards.
What went right?
The defense bent a few times but didn’t break through the first 31/2 quarters. Two missed field-goal attempts by the Hoosiers benefited the attempt at a shutout, as did a pass breakup by freshman cornerback Cam Burrows in the fourth quarter. It was quite the turnaround for a defense that struggled to stop the Hoosiers’ spread offense a year ago.
Back to drawing board
That two-quarterback end-around play. The Buckeyes finally tried something fancy with backup quarterback Kenny Guiton and Miller on the field together. Guiton took the snap and got the ball to Miller, who had lined up wide left, then started back to the right. It was supposed to be an option pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman, but Indiana had him covered. Miller eventually leaped for the end zone, getting the touchdown but landing on his head. Don’t try this at home.
Doran Grant left the game because of an undisclosed ailment but is expected to play at Michigan. Linebacker Curtis Grant, coming back from a sprained ankle, was available but did not play. His role would have been limited against Indiana’s spread offense.
As the team gathered in the south end zone at Ohio Stadium to face the band and sing Carmen Ohio a final time for the seniors, Meyer stood on the end of the line with his right arm around Jordan Hall. The senior running back, whose playing time has been abbreviated by a chronic knee condition this year, has long been one of Meyer’s favorites.
Michigan, and what to make of the Wolverines? Many had them pegged to play Ohio State not only this Saturday, but potentially again a week later in the Big Ten championship game. But the Wolverines have faltered in the third year under coach Brady Hoke, primarily because their offense, led by quarterback Devin Gardner, is 95th among Football Bowl Subdivision schools at 362.8 yards a game. They gained just 158 yards, including 60 rushing, Saturday in a loss at Iowa.
This week’s challenge
It won’t be looking ahead to the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State as much as it will be not taking the Wolverines for granted. Michigan can salvage its season with a victory, but all of the Buckeyes’ goals remain in front of them. Which team will be able to muster the better resolve?
Ohio State Football Mid-Season Highlight Source: Ohio State Athletics
Urban Meyer’s Wife Shelley Really Wants Shovel Passes To Be Added To The Buckeyes’ Offense
November 22, 2013 Source: College Spun - The Ohio State Buckeyes have been rolling recently, and part of their success comes from an offense that is really starting to fire on all cylinders. But while one might think that a team could grow content scoring over 50 points each week (Ohio State has accomplished the feat in three straight games), suggestions are still flying in for how to improve the offense.
One such suggestion came from Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, on Twitter. She knows her football, and apparently wants her husband to talk to offensive coordinator Tom Herman about adding the shovel pass to the offense:
@OSUCoachMeyer Hey Urb! Have u seen the requests for the SHELLEY SHOVEL PASS? Please tell "suggest" it to Coach Herman??
When we see a shovel pass from the Buckeyes this weekend, we’ll know who wears the pants in the Meyer household.
Also, this is at least a proactive suggestion from Shelley — up north in Michigan, Brady Hoke’s family has been questioning his own coaching ability. (Even Brady Hoke’s Wife And Daughter Are Questioning His Coaching Right Now)
Who Gon' Stop Us [Ohio State 2013]
Who Gon' Stop Us - Cameron Grey Listen to the full song here: https://soundcloud.com/camerongrey
So apparently it isn’t just Ohio State’s fan base that has noticed that ESPN analyst Mark May constantly trolls the Buckeyes. Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame coach and current ESPN analyst, just called May out for “being against Ohio State” since the day he came on the show. It looks like Holtz may have gained himself some scarlet and gray fans Saturday afternoon. Source: CollegeSpun.com
Panthers' Ted Ginn gets go ahead TD, Brandon LaFell O-H-I-O
LSU's Brandon LaFell does O-H-I-O after Ted Ginn Jr scores game winning TD with 59 seconds left in Panther's 24-20 win over the Patriots in MNF November 18, 2013
"Did the former Bayou Bengal lose a bet or something? Either way, it's hardly a surprise to see Ted Ginn do everything once again. Ted Ginn. Ted Ginn. Ted Ginn did everything." (Video Credit: ESPN) Source: Land-Grant Holy Land
25 words or fewer It’s an odd world the Buckeyes live in when scoring 60, winning by 25 and tying the school-record winning streak (22) is considered ho-hum.
In the BCS/polls
Ohio State stayed No. 3 in the two polls — USA Today coaches and Harris Interactive — that make up two-thirds of the Bowl Championship Series ratings formula, which was why the Buckeyes stayed No.?3 in the BCS standings behind Alabama and Florida State. But as evidenced by the Associated Press poll, which moved Baylor over OSU into third, there are doubters. And if Baylor wins at Oklahoma State this week, the coaches and Harris Interactive voters might make the same flip, regardless of the Buckeyes’ result with Indiana.
Carlos Hyde. He might have been forced to watch the first two plays on Saturday because of a disciplinary issue between him and running backs coach Stan Drayton, but when he entered on the third play, he was swarmed by a wary Illinois defense. That freed Braxton Miller on his 70-yard touchdown sprint. But Hyde went on to get his, rushing for four touchdowns (including 55- and 51-yard sprints late in the fourth quarter) and amassing a career-high 246 yards. In just seven games, he’s at 947 yards, 53 short of becoming the first running back to gain 1,000 yards in a season on an Urban Meyer-coached team.
What’s not hot?
The punt coverage team. It was Meyer’s pride and joy, but it was gashed by a 67-yard return for a touchdown, a play that even seemed to take the starch out of OSU’s defense for a while, too. Cameron Johnston averaged 57yards on six punts, but one of the problems on those with the 20-mph wind was they often outdistanced the coverage.
What went right?
Miller passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, but never mastered the wind, which was why Meyer went to attack by ground as the Illini threatened to make it a game. Many teams don’t have such either-or options. But behind a bunch Miller calls “the best ‘O’ line in the country,” Miller ran for 184 yards as he and Hyde carried the mail in the most prodigious ground day — 441 yards — this season for the Buckeyes.
Back to the drawing board
Just when OSU defenders were starting to feel good about themselves following two games of slamming the pass, and then a first quarter at Illinois in which C.J. Barnett intercepted a pass to set up a score and Bradley Roby returned another 63 yards for his second touchdown of the season, things unraveled. Some of it was because of Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase’s derring-do, some was slack coverage, some was not getting to Scheelhaase enough in a disruptive fashion. But on a day when the Buckeyes had six sacks, two interceptions and forced a fumble that led to a safety, there still seemed more questions than answers.
Starting linebackers Curtis Grant (ankle sprain) and Joshua Perry (head bump after slipping on the ice last week in Columbus) were out. Defensive end Joey Bosa had to leave because of a neck strain early in the second half. The status of all three will be evaluated as the week progresses.
Receiver Evan Spencer might have landed in Meyer’s penalty box for an ill-thought quote last week, but he threw the final clearing block on one of Hyde’s touchdowns. It was something Meyer pointed out proudly in the postgame news conference.
Indiana, which seemed to get over a hump with an upset of Penn State six games ago. But since then, the Hoosiers are 1-4. They were blasted 51-3 by Wisconsin on Saturday, with the Badgers rushing for 554 yards. Indiana lives by the pass, so that makes this week’s matchup interesting. But the Buckeyes break backs with their running game.
This week’s challenge
A victory will give the Buckeyes the longest winning streak — 23 — in school history, extend the longest current streak in the nation and clinch the Big Ten Leaders Division title and a spot in the league championship game. The problem is few people outside of Buckeye Nation seem impressed. The Buckeyes are still in the big race as long as they don’t slip.
What we learned in the Big Ten: Week 12 Novmber 17, 2013 Source: ESPN - Michigan State vs. Ohio State is happening, so get ready: The Big Ten championship game is not signed, sealed and delivered yet. But it would take some major chaos for that game not to feature Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans clinched at least a tie for the Legends Division title with their 41-28 win at Nebraska. All they need is to win one of their final two games -- at Northwestern and versus Minnesota -- or have Minnesota lose next week against Wisconsin in order to punch their ticket to Indianapolis. Coach Mark Dantonio's team has come too far to slip up two straight weeks. Ohio State needs one more win to clinch the Leaders spot in the title game because of its head-to-head win over Wisconsin, and the Buckeyes will be favored by multiple scores next week at home against Indiana. This is the matchup that the Big Ten should want -- Michigan State will be in the top 15 and possibly the edge of the top 10 if it wins out, and the Spartans' outstanding defense will test Ohio State's high-scoring offense. It hasn't been the most exciting Big Ten regular season, but things are setting up for a fantastic finish at Lucas Oil Stadium
What happens when college football’s most storied rivalry isn’t decided on the field? Debuts tonight, 11/16/13, 7pm on BTN
Forty years ago, a 10-10 tie between Ohio State and Michigan left the determination of which school would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl up to its Athletic Directors. That unprecedented, controversial vote – in the days when only one Big Ten team could play in a bowl game – changed college football forever.
To commemorate the anniversary of that historic game, BTN is opening the tiebreaker vote to college football fans everywhere. Watch game footage and interviews with the key players from the 1973 game, then choose the team you think should have represented the Big Ten Conference in the Rose Bowl.
Daily winners will get a Big Ten school-specific tailgating helmet and one grand prize winner will receive a pair of 2014 football season tickets to their Big Ten team of choice.
The Buckeyes are third in the BCS standings. Barring a Florida State or Alabama loss, they could go 25-0 the past two years and not reach the BCS title game. Some are questioning the fairness of keeping Urban Meyer and his team out of the title game.
We thought we’d break down Ohio State’s merits vs. Florida State. Here is a breakdown of their respective schedules with Chase Stuart’s SRS.
These schedules, at least by this measure, are more or less identical. Ohio State fed on the bottom of the Big Ten. Florida State fed on the bottom of the ACC. Their best wins, Wisconsin and Clemson, came against good but not great opponents.
The differences? Well, we didn’t spend all off-season discussing how soft Florida State’s schedule was. So, they aren’t getting as much of a stigma as they perhaps should be. The major difference is margin of victory. It doesn’t factor in the formula. But flattening Clemson is certainly factoring in the voters’ minds. The best team Ohio State has beaten by more than 20 is Penn State.
Is it fair? No. But the BCS system has never been fair. One might ask why either one of those team’s resumés is more impressive than what an undefeated Baylor will have done, or Stanford going a potential 8-1 against the SRS Top 40.
Should Ohio State have a title shot?
Wide out Evan Spencer said that he felt his Ohio State Buckeyes would, 'wipe the field' with either Alabama or Florida State. Allie LaForce and Doug Gottlieb weigh in.
Finebaum is now an ESPN broadcaster and part of the College GameDay crew on Saturday mornings.
And he’s interested in where the Buckeyes fit into the college football big picture. If Finebaum cares, SEC fans might care.
He had me on his radio show Tuesday for the second time this season. The first came after our “Breaking Bama” series talked about Alabama and Ohio State recruiting against each other. My point in writing this is that I found Finebaum’s take on Ohio State during our conversation interesting for OSU fans.
“It’s a fascinating story,” he said, as our conversation ended with my theory on what Ohio State might be like entering 2014 at 26-0 under Meyer without having a shot at a national title game. “As someone who started the season, like everyone, taking shots, I’m starting to wonder if we didn’t jump the gun. But it’s not over yet.”
As he went to commercial, Finebaum said, “I know (Urban Meyer is) not going to get any sympathy around here, but I wonder if he’s being treated fairly.”
Later in the show, Finebaum said he’s “not the biggest fan of the Big Ten,” but added that dismissing completely Ohio State from the national conversation was “short-sighted.”
“I think Ohio State is really good,” Finebaum said.
And if you care what Ohio State’s perception is on the national scene, you should care about that.
Spencer said the Buckeyes would "wipe the field" with the other teams vying for entry into the BCS Championship Game. Meyer admonished the junior for what he called "disrespecting other teams."
"I'm very disappointed. I can't stand that," Meyer said Tuesday on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference. … "He certainly is not the spokesman for our team. As a result, Evan won't talk to the media for a long, long time.
"You don't do that. That's not good sportsmanship and that's not what we expect. I understand he's a young man and made a minor mistake, but we just don't do that. You talk about your teammates, talk about the team and move on."...
Meyer said he frequently advises players on how to engage with reporters.
"After every game I talk to them, because I know that's when they can approach the media," Meyer said. "Every couple weeks, I'll remind them. But there's a pretty clear rule over here that you always talk about your teammates, you talk about the team and you always are respectful to the team you're getting ready to play or the one you just played and the players. That's just the right thing to do."
Whenever a college athlete says something provocative or colorful, some fans question the kid's intelligence and others wonder if the player wasn't backed into a corner by reporters.
Here is the exact exchange between media and Ohio State WR Evan Spencer on Monday:
Reporter: Did you watch any football this weekend?
Spencer: "Oh, yeah. I got to. I got to sit on my couch and just watch other college teams and then, yesterday, watched all the pro teams. It's a good, relaxing few days."
Reporter: Obviously, you watched Alabama and LSU. Your thoughts on that.
Spencer: "I mean, both teams are really good. LSU seemed to have some momentum at the beginning in being able to move the ball up and down the field. But Alabama, they're one of the best technical teams in the country. So they kinda broke them down a little bit. But I saw holes in both teams and strengths in both teams."
Reporter: Does it happen when you're watching a game, envision how Ohio State would play against Alabama or what you might do against them?
Spencer: "Oh, yeah. Really since like midway through high school, every time I watch somebody else play, I always think about what I could have done there or what we would have done there as an offense or what we would have done there as a defense or what have you. It's good to look at other competition and kind of mentally play a game while you're sitting on the couch."
Reporter: So you did watch the Alabama game, and the Oklahoma-Baylor game and Stanford-Oregon. How do you think you guys would do against those teams.
Spencer: "I guess I'm a little biased, but I think we'd, uh, we'd wipe the field with both of them. But that's just my bias speaking." (laughs)
Reporter: That's Alabama and who's the other team?
Spencer: "Whoever. Whoever."
Reporter: How much do you follow this, rooting for Stanford or rooting for an LSU?
Spencer: "I was the biggest Cardinal fan for 3 hours because we needed a little bit of help but at the same time we still have to take care of our business. We have to go out there and show them that we're one of the best offenses in the country, one of the best defenses in the country, and one of the best kicking games in the country. We know we have to go out there and take care of business that we have to handle, but we also know we need a little bit of help as well."
THE UPSHOT: The word "wipe" was trending on social media sites in Columbus.
The fallout from other regions varied dramatically. Most fans in Southeasten Conference territory, home to Alabama, laughed at anyone saying they might easily defeat the two-time defending national champions. Some fans were angry that Spencer said it, others were pleased that he was so confident.
Needless to say, some pointed out that Ohio State is officially 0-9 against SEC teams in bowl games. (Note: The Buckeyes beat Arkansas 31-26 in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, but that outcome was vacated due to the NCAA violations committed under coach Jim Tressel.) Source: Associated Press
Spencer: OSU would "wipe the field" with Bama November 11, 2013 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - After Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer revealed on Monday that he slotted the Buckeyes in at No. 2 with his USA Today Coaches’ Poll vote, many of his players were asked about where they thought they stood nationally.
Junior wide receiver Evan Spencer, for one, wasn’t shy about his thoughts on Alabama and Florida State, the two teams currently ranked above OSU in the Bowl Championship Series.
“Well I guess I’m a little biased, but I think we’d wipe the field with both of them,” he said. “But that’s just my bias speaking.”
Ohio State’s No. 3 BCS ranking is a season high and came on the heels of previous third-ranked Oregon’s 26-20 loss to Stanford on Thursday. Spencer said he watched that game, as well as the Alabama-LSU clash on Saturday.
"I was the biggest Cardinal fan for three hours," Spencer said. "We needed a little bit of help, but at the same time, we still have to take care of our business and we have to go out there and show them why we're one of the best offenses in the country, show them why we’re one of the best defenses in the country and how we have the best kicking game in the country."
The Buckeyes are coming off arguably their two most complete performances of the season, having beaten Penn State 63-14 and Purdue 56-0. Although Ohio State struggled at times to put away the likes of Wisconsin (31-24), Northwestern (40-30) and Iowa (34-24), Spencer believes that on their best day, the Buckeyes are tops in the country.
“We’re going to go ahead and handle our business and play our best game every week,” he said. “We know that we just have to go out and execute. If we go out and execute for a full game, there’s nobody in the country that we feel can hang with us when we’re executing the way that we can.”
Urban Meyer Updates from his Thursday call in show November 7, 2013 Source: The Ozone -
Meyer said they have approached this bye week much different than the last one. The last time their focus was rest. This week their focus is maintaining their energy and momentum. He said half of the staff is out recruiting right now.
* Meyer said that Mike Vrabel, Stan Drayton and Mickey Marotti are responsible for getting the team pumped up before each game. He said they do a very good job of it.
* Meyer said three or four weeks ago they made a change on defense to go more aggressive, and it's working. Not just with blitzing and things like that, but also with triggering from the defensive back spots when the ball gets thrown. The players are reacting to the football quicker.
* Meyer attributed the increase in OSU scoring to the improvement over the entire offense, but also because they are getting more three and outs on defense. They are getting good field position as well.
* Meyer said he's seeing some uncomfortable quarterbacks on the other side of the field, and he likes it. He said Purdue was overmatched, but the defense still did exactly what they asked them to.
* Meyer said their zone defense has gotten better with their recognition of pass patterns and then triggering to the ball. He said it comes with time, and this defense has been together for an entire season now. He said they also like to disguise coverages, and that's what they did on Doran Grant's interception return. Meyer said Christian Bryant was great at it.
* He said that after Braxton Miller's interception against Purdue, he came to the bench and explained to the coaches what he did wrong and he knew why he did it. Meyer said a year ago he wouldn't have been able to do that.
* Meyer said the team practiced hard this week, but they'll have the weekend off to refresh their “heart, mind and soul”. “Take care of your family and do right.” And then they'll be back at it Monday morning. He said today's practice was all Illinois. Tom Herman and Luke Fickell are still in town doing film evaluation.
* Meyer said he'll be up in northeast Ohio watching playoff football tomorrow night.
* Asked about the tight ends, he said it's not always easy to get tight ends involved because of the way defenses react.
* Meyer said that Philly Brown is the number one playmaker in the passing game, and Carlos Hyde is the number one playmaker in the running game, but when he's listing his playmakers, he likes going through to figure out who is number two at each, because it can change.
* Meyer said that Ezekiel Elliott didn't come to Ohio State to cover kickoffs, but he understands what he has to do to see the field. “His mom and dad ought to be awful proud.”
* Meyer said “We have the best kicker in the country.” Then added that he didn't know if Basil is the best “kicker”, but his value to Ohio State is vast.
* Meyer said they try to compress the return area on kickoffs to eliminate running lanes. He likes to have a couple of players that he trusts on the field (wide) side on returns to contain a returner who tries to reverse field.
* Meyer reiterated that Taylor Decker should be fine for next week.
* He said Josh Perry had surgery on his finger, it was to stabilize a dislocation, he practiced today. Curtis Grant has an ankle sprain, so he needs to get healthy. Jordan Hall is a question mark. They still have to get Tommy Schutt into football shape.
* Meyer said that for a guy like Kenny Guiton to be a grad assistant at Ohio State, he needs a 3.0 GPA, and he's right around there, so they're pushing him because they want to keep him around the program if the NFL isn't calling him.
* Meyer said they had two or three missed tackles last week against Purdue. They want to be in single digits every week.
* Meyer talked about how far Marcus Hall has come, citing how Hall was suspended a year for academics, and that he's one of the top five most-respected players on the team now because of what he's been through and where he is now.
* Meyer said that before the Purdue game the message was that they shouldn't have to motivate the players after being in the system for two years now. They should only have to show them what they can accomplish if they play hard. He said the team understands that now. He said they try to create a family atmosphere because players always play hard for their family.
* Meyer said it wasn't difficult to get his team ready for the Purdue game. It didn't hurt that there was so much Scarlet in the crowd.
1. The Legends Division is officially a three-team race: If you thought Michigan State was going to cruise into the Big Ten championship game, think again. The Spartans remain the favorite in their division, but they have to travel to Nebraska this week in a potential winner-take-all scenario. While the Huskers' banged-up offense figures to have serious trouble against Michigan State's defense, one thing Bo Pelini's team has shown the past couple of weeks is heart, particularly in its hard-fought 17-13 win at Michigan. We've criticized Nebraska in the past for not winning key conference road games; well, credit is due for dealing the Wolverines their first home loss under Brady Hoke. And remember that the Cornhuskers are 2-0 versus Michigan State since joining the Big Ten. Don't count out Minnesota, either. While the Gophers will need some help to win the division, they have grown beyond a nice little story and into a full-fledged contender. Once again, a stout defense and running game led the way in a 24-10 win over Penn State, giving the program its first four-game Big Ten winning streak since 1973. The Gophers have beaten Nebraska and play at Michigan State in the season finale. They're a team no one wants to play right now.
2. Ohio State is one stumble away: Despite not playing in Week 11, it was a good weekend for Ohio State, because one of the three teams ahead of it lost when Oregon fell to Stanford on Thursday night. It could have been a great weekend had Alabama lost to LSU, but the Buckeyes can't complain too much. That's because they're in position to move into the BCS national title game should either the Crimson Tide or Florida State stumble in its final games. Ohio State still has to worry about potentially getting passed by undefeated Baylor or one-loss Stanford, but it should remain in good shape if it keeps winning in style like it has the past few weeks. Wisconsin continuing to win also helps. We've known all along that the Buckeyes would need some help to get in the final two, but a big fluorescent green domino fell on Thursday night. One more break might be all Ohio State needs.
3. No quick fixes for Michigan, Penn State: Two of the Big Ten's marquee brands have fallen on hard times -- and might not be getting up soon. At least not much before the end of this season. Michigan followed up its beatdown at Michigan State by losing at home to Nebraska, snapping a 19-game win streak at the Big House. The Wolverines still can't run the ball; they had minus-21 rushing yards on Saturday, a week after going for minus-48 in East Lansing. Their flaws have been evident for weeks and have finally caught up to them; with road trips to Northwestern and Iowa and a date with Ohio State left, there's no guarantee this team finishes better than 6-6. Michigan is just 14-8 since the Sugar Bowl victory in Hoke's first year, and he'd better hope that all of those glittery recruiting rankings translate into better success down the road. Penn State's struggles are more understandable, given the sanctions, but things are still rougher than many expected. Not only is the defense still a mess, but the offense has taken a nose dive the past few weeks as the Nittany Lions have averaged just 13.7 points per game in regulation the last three times out. That's surprising, given the presence of stars such as Allen Robinson and Bill Belton and a talented, albeit freshman, quarterback in Christian Hackenberg. Penn State has lost to Indiana and Minnesota, and if not for near-miraculous overtime wins over Illinois and Michigan, it could be riding a five-game losing streak. Luckily, Purdue is up next, but with the final two games coming against Nebraska and then at Wisconsin, Bill O'Brien's team will need to do some good work just to finish at .500.
4. Iowa has positioned itself for a strong finish: ... & 5. James White deserves his due:...
"I’m going to try to watch the games, absolutely," Meyer said. "I’ll watch them both, obviously with a lot of interest."
A doubleheader tonight, and another high-profile matchup on Saturday, could have a major impact on the Bowl Championship Series standings, where Ohio State (9-0) has spent the past three weeks locked in at No.?4 despite increasing its winning streak to 21 games.
Baylor (7-0) is No.?6 heading into a Big 12 home game tonight against No.?10 Oklahoma (7-1), and that game will be followed by a Pac-12 showdown with No.?3 Oregon (8-0) at No.?5 Stanford (7-1).
After those high-powered offensive games, the BCS will get another possible shakeup on Saturday in an old-fashioned Southeastern Conference slugfest when No.?1 Alabama (8-0) plays host to No.?13 LSU (7-2). Their past three regular-season meetings have been decided by four points or fewer, and LSU has won two.
Ohio State has not faced an opponent in the BCS’s top 15 in the past two years; Alabama will meet three in the next five weeks. That certainly will bolster the Crimson Tide’s strength of schedule in its quest to win a third consecutive national title.
Meyer and all Ohio State fans should be rooting for Oklahoma and Stanford tonight and for LSU on Saturday because the Buckeyes need help moving up the standings. Ohio State’s nine wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 36-41, and the remaining schedule will be a hindrance in BCS rankings if the teams ahead of them remain unbeaten.
Ohio State next plays on Nov.?16 at Illinois (3-5), which has lost 18 consecutive Big Ten games.
The Buckeyes then come home for Indiana (3-5), ranked 116th in the nation in points allowed, before playing at Michigan (6-2), a near loser to Akron and Connecticut.
Florida State (8-0) is also rooting for upsets tonight and Saturday despite having three wins over top 25 teams by a combined score of 155-28. The Seminoles are No. 2 in the BCS rankings but figure to be passed by Oregon if the Ducks win tonight.
Although Florida State has scored at least 41 points a school-record eight times, the Seminoles will be dragged down in the BCS rankings by their remaining schedule. They play Wake Forest (4-5) on Saturday and then Syracuse (4-4), Idaho (1-8), and Florida (4-4).
November has historically been a wild month, with major upsets affecting the BCS race. Last year, Oregon was No.?1 in the polls and No.?2 in the BCS standings when it lost at home 17-14 in overtime to Stanford. The Ducks were 10-0 and averaging 54.8 points at the time but ended up in the Fiesta Bowl.
Led by Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon’s up-tempo offense is once again putting up video game-type numbers. Stanford, however, knows how to slow opponents. The Cardinal averages 63.6 plays per game, ranking 123rd out of 125 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Two of Oregon’s past three wins have come against ranked opponents, but after tonight the Ducks don’t face another opponent in the BCS top 25 until possibly the Pac-12 championship game.
"You can’t take anything for granted, because every single game is vital," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.
Baylor is about to find out. For the untested Bears, who lead the nation in scoring offense (63.9 points per game) and total offense (718.4 yards), tonight’s game against Oklahoma is the first of four against teams in the top half of the Big 12 standings. Games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas remain.
"From a realistic standpoint, we just feel like this season is just getting started," said Baylor coach Art Briles, riding a school-record 11-game winning streak. "I know we’ve played seven games, but we’re ready and willing and anxious to get into the grind time, get into where we’re fighting and scraping for every single thing that’s out there."
The two-year commitments Urban Meyer asked of his first coaching staff at Ohio State will soon be filled. The assistants have all added 21 wins without a loss to their most current résumés. The No. 4 Buckeyes are on pace for another division title, in line for a spot in the Big Ten title game and still jockeying for a bid to compete for the crystal football.
So, as the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on Tuesday that Florida Atlantic is targeting defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, it’s a safe bet that some of the hottest coaching toys on the market are at Ohio State. And after keeping them all to himself after last season's undefeated campaign, the signs are already there that Meyer will need to restock his shelves this offseason.
"We had four guys that had some people trying to discuss head-coaching opportunities for them," Meyer said in the spring. "And I hope that happens for some of them, but I’m kind of glad it doesn’t happen after just one year.
"I always ask for just a two-year commitment. I think that’s fair."
Across the board, Meyer’s first staff has provided just about everything he could have hoped for when he took over the program, including sticking around and turning down a few offers a year ago.
As the team appears to be getting stronger every week, the benefits for the Buckeyes are obvious. OSU is thriving on the continuity and familiarity that comes with the opportunity to spend more than one season with a position coach, coordinator or simply a playbook. They’ve proven more than capable of making successful in-game adjustments -- whether it was altering the approach defensively against Iowa after seeing a new formation or tweaking an offensive game plan to feature the brutal running style of Carlos Hyde more as the passing attack struggled at Northwestern -- there are trademarks of a group of coaches and players all on the same page.
Returning for another season with the Buckeyes wasn’t solely a perk for the program, of course. For all the attention Ohio State got in 2012 while going unbeaten, it didn’t win a national title and couldn’t even play for the conference crown. Adding those to a list of accomplishments can certainly help a potential candidate stand out when business really picks up for athletic directors in the coming months.
And the Buckeyes will have no shortage of options depending on what a potential suitor is looking for, from innovative offensive minds to a pair of defensive guys with previous experience as interim coaches.
Tom Herman’s work with quarterback Braxton Miller and Ohio State’s eye-popping offensive numbers will surely make him one of the top targets among coordinators. Ed Warinner’s results with the offensive line while serving as the co-offensive coordinator and his background in multiple styles of attacks could be appealing as well.
Fickell has interviewed for at least one major program in the past, and Ohio State’s surging defense may well get him cracks at jobs bigger than the one Florida Atlantic might offer. Everett Withers has long been respected around the country for his ball-hawking defenses, and the Buckeyes have only helped him add to that reputation.
The rest of the assistants have enhanced their profiles as well, with Mike Vrabel’s young defensive line zipping through the learning curve and Zach Smith’s receivers operating at a much higher level this fall, just to name two.
It may turn out that keeping most of his assistants around becomes an even bigger priority for Meyer if the inquiries start flooding in for his coordinators. But, for now, two-year engagement isn’t over, and there’s still plenty of work to be done.
But if the Buckeyes end up doing what they planned on by the end of the season, Meyer will surely have no problem passing on a glowing recommendation.
"The one negative thing about success and hiring good coaches is that they’re hot items," Meyer said after last season. "If I had five guys that people never call me and want to hire them, that means I’ve probably got bad coaches."
With the shopping season apparently underway and the Buckeyes still rolling, Meyer had better make sure his phone is fully charged.
Ohio State HC Urban Meyer shot down a report that Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell interviewed for the head job at Florida Atlantic.
"He did not interview," Meyer said after practice tonight. "He better not have."
Meyer said he was not contacted by FAU and that there is "absolutely no interviewing going on" with his assistants during the regular season.
Fickell is apparently Florida Atlantic’s top target to fill its coaching vacancy, with the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting that FAU athletic director and former OSU staffer Pat Chun flew to Columbus to interview him Tuesday.
Owls coach Carl Pelini resigned last month after he was spotted allegedly using cocaine and marijuana. Fickell went 6-7 as the Buckeyes’ interim coach in 2011 and is in his second year as Meyer’s defensive coordinator.
The Ozone had the opportunity to speak with Junior Quarterback Braxton Miller, Junior Linebacker Ryan Shazier, Junior Tight End JT Moore, Senior Offensive Lineman Corey Linsley and Junior Defensive Lineman Michael Bennett following practice on Wednesday, November 6:
Two-Minute Drill: Wednesday Post-Practice Updates November 6, 2013 Source: The Ozone - * Meyer said that defensive coordinator Luke Fickell did not interview with Florida Atlantic about their vacant head coaching job. He said that if any assistant coach asked to interview in this middle of the season, he would tell them not to distract the team and to wait. Meyer said the normal protocol for a school that wants to interview one of his coaches would be for that athletic director to call Meyer and ask for permission. That apparently has not happened yet.
* Meyer said that he will definitely be watching college football Thursday night, and he will compare his team to the teams that he is watching. He will also be attending one of his daughter's volleyball games this weekend.
* Meyer said that he doesn't like politicking for his team when it comes to the BCS, but he knows that he has to do it for his players and his coaches.
* Meyer said that right tackle Taylor Decker is ahead of schedule on his MCL sprain and should be good to go for the Illinois game.
* Meyer said that the same rules apply as the last time the team had a bye week. Nobody better get into trouble, and everybody better come in at weight. He said the team needs to be serious right now because "The chase is on, man." ...
* Meyer was asked if he sees national championship-qualities in this football team, and he related it to the 2006 team that dealt with injuries and got better each week. He said the defense continues to get better, and the pass defense is much better than it has been. He said they'll be working more on the pass defense and the kickoff return unit during the off week.
* Meyer gave himself a grade of "B" when it comes to staying healthy and keeping away from the problems that he had at Florida.
* Asked about tight end Jeff Heuerman, he said they have no interest in big, plodding tight ends, and that's sort of what he was brought to Ohio State to be when he was originally recruited. He said that when he leaves, however, he will be one of the best tight ends in the nation.
* Meyer said that C.J. Barnett is one of the best tacklers on the team, and has "always been my right-hand man" when it comes to player situations. He said he's always been one of the top two guys he goes to on player issues.
* Meyer said the safeties who have stepped up in place of Christian Bryant are getting better, but they need to continue to improve.
* Meyer said he will be watching both big games on Thursday night.
* Meyer said he didn't realize Michigan State held Michigan to -48 yards rushing, but he's interested to watch the film in the next few days.
* Meyer said he usually watches Thursday night games with his son.
* He said he thinks "we're pretty close" to being where they want to be. It's the closest they've been since he has been here. "When we coach them, they get it." "These kids want to be coached, and they want to be great."
* Meyer said their focus is on Illinois, but they'll spend the early portion of the week working on themselves.
* Meyer said Jordan Hall practiced well last week, but he woke up on Saturday and was stiff and sore and couldn't go. He called it a chronic knee injury. He said Taylor Decker is doing well and his knee didn't swell, so they hope to have him this way.
* Meyer said Wisconsin's Chris Borland is one of the best blitzing linebackers that he's ever seen, and Ryan Shazier is similar. He said Shazier sees the blitzing lanes extremely well.
Defense responds to more pressure November 5, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Whether it’s a corporation or a football team striving for greatness, no segment of an organization enjoys the feeling that it’s putting a drag on the operation. That’s how members of the Ohio State defense felt a few weeks ago.
"There was a lot of pressure on us," safety C.J. Barnett said. "The offense is playing great, and we weren’t really holding up our end of the deal as good as we should have been.
"So coach (Urban) Meyer, the coaches put a lot of pressure on us, and we changed our mentality."
The defense felt a lot better about itself as the No.?4 Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) headed into this bye week after staging aggressive, often stifling efforts in lopsided wins over Penn State and Purdue.
In both games, the OSU defense delivered big plays early. Safety Corey Brown’s interception in the end zone thwarted Penn State’s initial offensive thrust in a 63-14 win. Cornerback Doran Grant’s interception return for a touchdown on the second play at Purdue set the agenda in the 56-0 romp.
Statistically, Ohio State has risen to No.?9 nationally in total defense (311.7 yard average). It’s No.?4 in rush defense (88.2) and No.?9 in scoring defense (17.0-point average).
"We’re just playing more together, we’re communicating, we’re forming like one unit," cornerback Bradley Roby said. "The beginning of the season we weren’t all together, and now we’re getting together."
The Buckeyes had to replace seven starters from last year’s defense. That unit also had taken about half of that unbeaten season to get its act together. It took awhile again this year, but here are some of the noticeable personnel reasons for the uptick:
• The return of tackle Tommy Schutt three games ago to the defensive line rotation after he missed the first six because of a broken foot.
• The rise of freshman Joey Bosa at strongside defensive end.
• The switched-on play of defensive end Noah Spence, who took his game up a notch against Penn State and kept it there at Purdue.
• The maturation of linebackers Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry (he underwent hand surgery yesterday but is expected to return for the next game) playing beside all-Big Ten performer Ryan Shazier.
• The way Brown has stepped in at safety for Christian Bryant, who was lost for at least the regular season because of a broken ankle suffered on Sept. 28.
"As a team, we’ve just got to keep on coming," Spence said. "That’s just giving us some confidence, the team all coming together. It’s feeling pretty good."
If there was an impetus, it was the urging by Meyer for the group to be more disruptive instead of lying back. It also helped that the past two games the Buckeyes were going against freshman quarterbacks, who didn’t always respond well to the pressure.
"I feel like it’s mostly us not thinking as much and just playing football," Spence said. "We know what our assignment is, and we’re just going out there and playing."
Meyer likes the trend, especially the sting brought by a blitzing Shazier. But it is the coach’s custom to continue to prod with three games left in the regular season.
"We’ve taken a weakness, which was pass defense, and I don’t want to say it’s a strength yet, but it’s much improved," said Meyer, with the Buckeyes now sitting No.?50 in pass efficiency defense compared with No.?71 two weeks earlier.
Barnett expects the rise to continue because "being on the attack instead of sitting back" has increased confidence through the ranks.
"I think the coaches have done a great job of utilizing our strengths, which I think is pressuring the quarterback," he said. "We’ve been playing a lot of man coverage. So I think our whole mentality has changed."
25 words or fewer With their throw, pitch, throw then "Roll Hyde, roll" offense, the Buckeyes feel great about themselves despite what poll voters and computers think.
In the BCS/polls
The Buckeyes stayed No.?4 in the Bowl Championship Series ratings, as well as the USA Today coaches and Harris Interactive polls that make up two-thirds of the BCS formula. No.?1 Alabama, No.?2 Florida State and No.?3 Oregon present a logjam for OSU that will need some dynamite upsets to clear and give the Buckeyes a channel to one of the two spots in the BCS title game.
Carlos Hyde, who kept rolling behind the veteran offensive line, and making his own way when there was a leak. He had 111 yards at Purdue on just eight carries, taking a seat after his first run in the second half put him over 100. He’s at 701 yards for the season, well within reaching 1,000 for the season. He’s averaging 116.8, but NCAA rules dictate that you have to play in 75 percent of the games to be included in national rankings. Hyde was suspended the first three games, which means his first appearance could be after the Michigan game. Unofficially, his average is 11th best. Meanwhile, OSU is No.?5 nationally in scoring (48.2) and No.?8 in rushing (301.1) and total offense (530.9).
What’s not hot?
Reading the advertising on Jeff Heuerman. Going into Purdue, he was touted as one of the better blocking tight ends in the country. Then he broke wide open time after time early and Braxton Miller found him. Heuerman had five catches for 116 yards — the most receiving yards by an OSU tight end since John Frank at Michigan in 1983 — and scored OSU’s first offensive touchdown. Fellow tight end Nick Vannett also caught a TD pass, the first time two OSU tight ends caught TD passes in the same game since 2006.
What went right?
Not only did cornerback Doran Grant deliver the first big play of the game with his interception, but he picked up a quick convoy from Joey Bosa, Joel Hale, Curtis Grant, Tyvis Powell and C.J. Barnett to finish off the pick-six. Purdue had freshman quarterback Danny Etling rolling out on the second play of the game, which meant word of Ohio State’s enhanced upfront defensive pressure preceded it. OSU is No.?9 nationally in total defense (311.7) and scoring defense (17.0).
Back to the drawing board
Emails and tweets keep coming from critics of OSU’s Big Ten schedule, as if the Buckeyes have the ability to erase what’s up on the board and call, say, Alabama this week for a game on Thursday night. The schedule is what it is, and it’s not difficult for Ohio State by any measure this season. But it’s also looking as if the Buckeyes’ path to stay in contention for a BCS title game bid could run into Associated Press No.?18 Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.
Right offensive tackle Taylor Decker suffered a left knee sprain, similar to the injury Miller incurred in game two, and could be out for a couple of weeks or more. Tommy Brown took his place. Middle linebacker Curtis Grant limped off twice with a left ankle sprain, but is expected to be OK.
Chris Fields did, on that leaping 1-yard pop pass from backup quarterback Kenny Guiton for OSU’s fifth touchdown in the six-TD first half. Shades of Tim Tebow at Florida when Urban Meyer was there, the play was introduced a couple of weeks ago to the Buckeyes, Guiton said. It played off of Guiton’s numerous spread-the-field plunges into the middle of the line, but he still went on to score two rushing TDs in the second half.
It’s the second bye week of the season for the Buckeyes.
This week’s challenge
Meyer said R&R are as much a part of a bye week as practice. He wants his team as fresh as possible for the three-game regular-season stretch run to Illinois, home with Indiana, then at Michigan. There also will be some scoreboard watching: No.?2 Oregon plays at No.?6 Stanford and No.?5 Baylor plays host to No.?12 Oklahoma on Thursday night, and No.?1 Alabama plays host to No.?10 LSU on Saturday night. Will all the dominoes stay standing?