As Ohio State works to improve its overall game — despite sitting undefeated and No. 2 in both major polls — coach Urban Meyer said Monday that help could be coming by way of rising young players on the roster.
“I do feel like we’re getting better, and I see some young (talent) — Josh Proctor is now contributing on special teams,” for example, Meyer said. He referred to the freshman safety who was part of the celebrated 2018 recruiting class.
Considering the situation at the other safety spot — opposite returning starter Jordan Fuller — this season, Proctor had been expected to get an early shot at playing time while competing with Isaiah Pryor, Jahsen Wint and others. Now it looks like that competition also will involve Shaun Wade, who slowly has worked from being the nickel back to seeing substantial time at safety the past two weeks.
Meyer also said another freshman safety, Marcus Hooker, is showing progress after being sidelined with an unspecified injury early in the season. He played for the first time on special teams against the Gophers.
The same promising progress goes for sophomore guard Wyatt Davis and freshman receiver Chris Olave, Meyer said.
Meyer also was pleased with the play of Joshua Alabi, who replaced banged up left tackle Thayer Munford in the second half and was in on 25 plays.
“So I try to build on those positives,” Meyer said.
On the mend
The Ohio State defense is expected to get a talent boost for Saturday’s game at Purdue. Defensive end Jonathon Cooper and linebacker Malik Harrison, both starters who had to sit out against Minnesota under the concussion protocol, have been cleared to return, Meyer said.
Jashon Cornell, the swing player on the defensive front capable of playing at tackle or end, started in place of Cooper last week. Justin Hilliard started in place of Harrison.
Meyer said cornerback Damon Arnette, who had to leave the Minnesota game, is questionable for Saturday because of an unspecified injury. Jeffrey Okudah and Kendall Sheffield, who rotate with Arnette at the two cornerback spots, saw more time against the Gophers, and that likely will be the case at Purdue.
Bosa to be examined
Nick Bosa is headed back to Philadelphia on Tuesday for an examination by the physician who repaired his core muscle injury almost a month ago, Meyer said. The coach was responding to a question of whether he expected the junior defensive end to play again for the Buckeyes, considering he is expected to leave for the NFL after this season and is projected to be one of the top-level picks in the 2019 draft.
“I’m hoping,” Meyer said.
Bosa’s father, John, said soon after the Sept. 20 surgery, done by Dr. William Meyers of the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, that any speculation as to his son’s possible return to playing status could not be made until after a final examination by Meyers in November.