On Urban Meyer’s radio call-in show Thursday, the Ohio State coach said that his decision to allow nine players to be captain this year was for games like the Buckeyes had against Penn State.
Ohio State trailed all game, twice by 18 points, and needed to summon all the leadership it could muster to rally for a 39-38 victory. The Buckeyes now head to Iowa with momentum and a clear shot at the Big Ten title and possible College Football Playoff berth.
"It's one of the most mature teams I've been around,” Meyer said on 97.1 The Fan. “Some people maybe look sideways and say, ‘Nine captains?’ Why not? If they’ve earned it, they deserve it. I don’t believe in limitations including on an incredible honor at a school like this. You have to earn it. You don’t earn it when it’s the fourth quarter against UNLV. You earn it down 14-zip in the first quarter against a very good team.”
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Other highlights from the radio show:
*Meyer said he’s still bothered by the two fumbles against Penn State by Parris Campbell and then J.T. Barrett: "You think about the mistakes ... The two fumbles, that eats at me. You're talking about two good players, Parris and J.T."
*Meyer on the Buckeyes’ play in the trenches: "It was a dominating performance by the offensive and defensive lines... We handed that team 21 points."
*Meyer on Barrett's performance: "J.T. is a product of those around him. Boy, did he play great. But Austin Mack, K.J. Hill, Marcus Baugh (and) most importantly the five guys up front (were instrumental). That was a very good defensive line. What a difference a year makes.” He said offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson have done a good job rebuilding the O-line’s culture, which took a hit when the core group from 2012-14 left.
*Meyer on Mike Weber landing on his head trying to hurdle a Penn State tackler: "We believe in playing with both feet on the ground. But Mike goes really hard."
*Meyer on Johnnie Dixon's perseverance: Said he has worked through his injuries, unlike a couple of players who left after adversity. "You can run from problems and it doesn't work for them."
*Meyer on Baugh: "He is playing at a very, very high level. His attitude is outstanding right now and is playing best football of his life."
*Meyer on senior center Billy Price, about to get his 50th start, which will tie Luke Fickell’s Buckeye record: "Billy Price will go down — I don’t want to put the cart before the horse — as arguably one of the best ever to put on shoulder pads here."
*Meyer said getting the field safety to bite (on deception) was the key to the winning TD pass to Marcus Baugh.
*Meyer on Iowa: "They're very stereotypically Iowa." Said they're tough and as fundamentally strong as anybody OSU plays.
*Meyer: "On defense, they're very rugged. They run twists" to disrupt run game.
*Meyer on all the recruits for the Penn State game: "It was a very good recruiting weekend. We're right down to the end of our recruiting" for 2018 and are concentrating more on 2019. He said his message to recruits is pretty simple: “Do you want to come?” If not, OSU moves on.
*Meyer on the kickoff coverage woes: "We had real grown-man conversation during the game.” Meyer said Dante Booker and Austin Mack have been added to kickoff coverage unit. "Yeah, we're going to make some personnel changes.”
*Meyer said DT Davon Hamilton has been dealing with a back injury. Partial reason for why he isn't playing much.
*Meyer said there's a picture of the four pass-rushers bearing down on Trace McSorley on the fourth-down incompletion that he'll get for his office.
*Meyer on Iowa's new tradition of waving to the children's hospital adjacent to Kinnick Stadium: Said OSU will participate. "We're honored to take part in that."
*Meyer on officials' calls in PSU game: "You talk about some calls in that fricking game that could have gone either way." Meyer said it was crucial for OSU's coaches and players to put those calls behind them right away and not dwell on them.
*Meyer said kickoff coverage and ball security are areas of emphasis this week. They are using padded bats in practice to make sure players are keeping the ball high and tight.
*Meyer said there's a picture of the DL bearing down on McSorley on the fourth-down incompletion that he'll get for his office.
*Meyer on Denzel Ward's punt block: "I think it's the first time in my career that we've blocked a punt at that point on the field." That was the turning point in the game.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was the special guest on the radio show for the final segment.
*Wilson on Barrett: "A year ago from afar, I really enjoyed and appreciated how he played. I remember that freshman year like, ‘Wow.’” Like Meyer, Wilson said Barrett's success is tied to others, "Eleven guys functioning as a unit."
*Wilson said other than the offensive line, being able to be 2-3 deep at each position is crucial with the tempo OSU's offense is playing at.
*Wilson said the TD pass to Baugh would have only worked if PSU had shown a certain look (which it did).
*Wilson said Iowa likes to shorten the game and milk the clock.
*Wilson, who was back at Kinnick Stadium as Indiana’s head coach, said Iowa's locker room is now a nice one. And it's not painted pink anymore: "It's more mauve. They've softened up a little bit."