It’s obvious from the past several years that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer prefers his kicking specialists to be just that — kickoff man, placement kicker, punter — but that might be changing.
He has seen disappointing results the first three games from freshman Blake Haubeil on kickoffs. And an embarrassing try for quick fix went awry to start the second half against Army when walk-on Bryan Kristan shanked one that “almost went in the seats,” Meyer recalled on Monday.
That’s why fourth-year junior Sean Nuernberger, who handles extra points and field goals, could be pressed into kickoff duty on Saturday when the Buckeyes host Nevada-Las Vegas, Meyer said.
Ohio State is 53rd nationally in kickoff coverage, giving up an average of 19.0 yards per return. That number is exacerbated by the Buckeyes’ usual ploy of trying to have the kickoff be a popup fielded inside the 5-yard line and to Ohio State’s left, so as to corner the return man and try keep the runback from reaching the 20.
The kicks often have been short of the 5, though, and sometimes with a low trajectory, especially against Army. The Black Knights’ average field position after the seven OSU kicks was about the 27-yard line, and they came close to breaking one.
Rutgers game prime time
The Buckeyes’ game at Rutgers on Sept. 30 will have a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, the Big Ten announced Monday. It will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Middle linebacker Chris Worley was wearing an isolation boot on his right foot Monday due to the sprain he suffered when caught by a cut block from an Army player on Saturday. Meyer listed Worley, a co-captain, as questionable for the UNLV game.
Tuf Borland took Worley’s spot against Army, which was running the ground-based triple option, and he led the team with 12 tackles. Meyer was pleased with the performace, naming him the team’s defensive co-player of the game along with safety Erick Smith.
“His personality matches his (first) name,” Meyer said of Borland. “He's a tough guy.”
Dobbins takes another bow
Just three games into his college career, Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins won the Big Ten freshman of the week award for the second time. From La Grange, Texas, he shared the award this week with Rutgers back Johnathan Lewis.
Dobbins, eighth in the nation in rushing with 425 yards, ran for 172 and two touchdowns, including a 52-yard TD sprint early in the second half, to help power the Buckeyes’ win over Army. He won the award the first time for his 181-yard rushing night in the season-opening win at Indiana.