Urban Meyer hasn’t yet discussed the need to avoid another Penn State hangover with his football team, but that time will come.
A year ago, Ohio State followed a stirring comeback victory over the Nittany Lions with a clunker. Iowa thrashed the visiting Buckeyes 55-24 the next week, inflicting a mortal wound on their College Football Playoff hopes.
On Monday during his weekly news conference, Meyer did not want to take a trip down memory lane to examine what went wrong last year. He will have that conversation with his team at some point, he said, but for now his focus is clearly on the present. The Buckeyes host Indiana this week.
“Practice really hard Tuesday and we’ll have that chat,” Meyer said.
Ohio State moved up to No. 3 in the major polls and now has the upper hand in the Big Ten East. But Meyer said his team is not close to reaching its potential.
“We’re 5-0 and we haven’t played close to our best game,” he said.
Meyer is thrilled with certain aspects of his team but others, he said, need to make improvements. He said he had a “call to arms” meeting on Sunday with his players to urge veterans who aren’t pulling their weight to do so and for freshmen to start contributing.
As the season reaches its midway point, injuries are starting to take a toll. Defensive end Nick Bosa is out for the foreseeable future, and defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and cornerback Damon Arnette were hurt against Penn State. Meyer said Jones is “very probable” against Indiana and Arnette is probable.
Meyer added that defensive tackle Robert Landers and running back Mike Weber weren’t at 100 percent against Penn State but should be this week.
The Buckeyes will be without safety Isaiah Pryor for the first half against Indiana because of his targeting ejection on Saturday. Meyer said that OSU tried to appeal the suspension but were told it couldn’t.
The safety spot opposite Jordan Fuller has been a problem this season. Against Penn State, Pryor took a poor angle on KJ Hamler’s 93-yard touchdown reception, the second score from that distance the Buckeyes have allowed this year.
“We had some new players, but it's week 6,” Meyer said. “You can't just give up those big plays.”