Ohio State football: Urban Meyer likes what he sees as Buckeyes prepare for camp
CHICAGO — The Ohio State football team’s fall camp begins in 10 days, and Urban Meyer has a pretty good feel for the team he’ll have in 2018.
A lot of familiar faces will be gone — the OSU coach professed his love for J.T. Barrett again — but the roster will be deep and gifted.
“Very talented team,” Meyer said Tuesday at Big Ten media days. “Very good people. Guys have worked hard.”
As in years past, the Buckeyes will have a symbolic passing of the torch from head strength coach Mickey Marotti to Meyer on the eve of camp. But Meyer won’t need Marotti’s assessment to know what he’ll get to mold starting Aug. 3.
“I've been at the last four workouts, I believe,” Meyer said. “I know what we're getting. Even the young players, a lot of times you have no idea what you're getting until you watch them go. But the incoming freshmen, we have a good feel — obviously not the contact part, but the athleticism.”
As for the quarterback situation, Meyer reiterated that Dwayne Haskins Jr. will enter camp as the starter. But he seemed to leave the door a little more ajar for Tate Martell to take a stab at the job.
“This guy is very skilled,” Meyer said of Haskins. “The guy behind him (Martell) is very skilled. (If) we took the snap today, I made it clear that Dwayne would be the quarterback, but 30 days from now, a lot happens in 30 days.”
Meyer said he likes what he has seen from the physically gifted Haskins. But Meyer believes that leadership and toughness are even more essential for a quarterback.
“With all due respect to other sports, this is the most unique position of all of sport,” he said. “You have to understand the entire defense, have to understand all other 10 players, what they’re doing on offense. He has to make decisions in split seconds. And, by the way, he’s got people like (Nick) Bosa trying to tear his throat out.
“But he’s done very well. And Tate has done very well, too.”
For a team that has national championship aspirations, “very well” might not be good enough.
“The expectation is to be the best quarterback in the Big Ten,” Meyer said, “which is very hard because we have some excellent quarterbacks.”
The defense has question marks, with the linebackers perhaps at the top of the list. Tuf Borland played well when he took over at middle linebacker last year, but he injured his Achilles during spring practice.
“Tuf Borland is doing great,” Meyer said. “He's got the same pain threshold as J.T. Barrett.”
He said that he laughed when doctors told him Barrett would be out several weeks after his knee injury against Michigan. He played the next week against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
That doesn’t mean Borland will be ready for camp or even for the start of the season.
“Well, it’s a really tough injury,” Meyer said. “(But) he’s on course to perform this fall.”