Ohio State football: Urban Meyer cites 'urgency' needed to fix Buckeyes' problems

Bill Rabinowitz
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer [Adam Cairns]

In one ugly day, Ohio State dropped from favorites to win the Big Ten and advance to the College Football Playoff to a team desperate for answers on multiple fronts.

Can the Buckeyes get their stagnant run game going and figure out how to score touchdowns from the red zone?

Can their defense finally stop surrendering big plays?

In the broader picture, where does Ohio State fit in the Big Ten race now that Michigan is resurgent, let alone its chances for making the playoff?

The Michigan question won’t be settled until the rivalsl meet on Nov. 24. But the issues laid bare by Purdue in the Boilermakers’ 49-20 dismantling of Ohio State on Saturday are under the microscope now.

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Meyer had his coordinators stay in Columbus instead of joining other assistant coaches on the recruiting trail on Monday. Ohio State is off this Saturday before playing Nebraska on Nov. 3.

“I just felt, not to take away from recruiting, but obviously there are things that have to get corrected,” Meyer said.

He said coaches spent “at least 12 hours” on Monday evaluating the offense’s faltering run game and its issues allowing big plays on defense.

“This bye week is going to give us an opportunity to evaluate some schemes,” Meyer said. “There are things we do well and there are things we don’t. It’s glaringly obvious what the issues are. That’s the red zone on offense, the ability to run the ball when you have to run it and the defense with big plays.”

He said that the red zone will be an area of concentration for the next three days in practice. Ohio State made four trips inside the Purdue 20 and managed only two field goals.

Ohio State players were given Sunday and Monday off. The Buckeyes convened for a team meeting Tuesday afternoon.

“There will be some things brought up,” Meyer said. “The one thing you never want to do is start blaming. We don’t do that here. We have to come together and fix it. It’s not the first game we’ve lost. You have to somehow regroup and get going.”

As for whether the Buckeyes would make major schematic changes, Meyer replied, “I think that’s not been determined yet. We’re going to practice some things and hopefully know more.”

On Monday, the website reported that there was “friction” at Ohio State, specifically between Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith.

Asked about the report, Meyer said, “There’s no tension. I talk and work with Gene on darn near a daily basis and there’s no tension there.”

As for tension among coaches, Meyer said, “There are things that need to be fixed. I wouldn’t call it tension. I call it day-to-day going to work and working on your weaknesses and getting them fixed. So no, there’s no tension. Urgency, I’d call it.”

There is little doubt about that. Michigan’s dominating performance in its 21-7 victory over Michigan State has made the Wolverines the new favorites in the Big Ten.

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, subbing for head coach Jim Harbaugh on the Big Ten teleconference, said the Wolverines are more resilient this year.

“I think there’s a little more confidence in this team,” Brown said. “Each time you get a big win … You know, confidence is a funny thing. It just continues to grow.”

And it can decrease with a loss as dispiriting as Ohio State’s was. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said that the ball bounced his team’s way, though he pointed out ways in which the Boilermakers’ exploited the Buckeyes’ weaknesses.

“I do feel they’ve got a very potent passing attack,” Brohm said. “They have a great quarterback (Dwayne Haskins Jr.). Defensively, yeah, they probably need to shore up (things to avoid) giving up some big plays. But I think they have the ability to do that.”

Brohm pointed out that Ohio State won the rest of its games after a similarly shocking 55-24 loss to Iowa last year.

“I can foresee them running the table from here on out,” he said. “It’s about the leaders on the team stepping forward and the coaches doing their part. But I know they can get it done. I wouldn’t want to play them again.”


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