Ohio State football: Urban Meyer wary of a letdown as Buckeyes prepare for Maryland

Bill Rabinowitz
brabinow@dispatch.com
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer talks to quarterback Tate Martell during the fourth quarter Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. [Adam Cairns]

Fresh off a 20-point win over Michigan State and with Michigan looming in less than two weeks, the Ohio State football team will have to guard against an emotional letdown against Maryland on Saturday.

OSU coach Urban Meyer is already on the case with his players.

“I had a chat with them,” he said.

Meyer described Maryland, which lost to Indiana 34-32 on Saturday as “one of the more talented teams in the Big Ten.” The Terrapins defeated Texas in their opener and do have talented players at the skill positions, though injuries have thinned them.

“Our guys are very intelligent players here,” Meyer said. “I do worry about (them) staring at phones all day long, but they know what’s in store. I can assure the focus is on going to win that game.”

Ohio State takes a 9-1 record into its game at noon in College Park, Maryland, but there is a widespread belief that the team is not playing at a level it should be. Meyer said he senses that, agrees with it and accepts it as part being at Ohio State.

Asked specifically about the offensive line, which struggled for most of the Michigan State game before asserting itself late, Meyer said he is generally pleased with its progress.

“I think we can play a little bit better,” he said. “That was a rugged day. It's not exactly where we need to be, but I am satisfied with where we’re at.”

Against Nebraska two weeks ago, the Buckeyes got their stagnant running game untracked. Against the Spartans, Mike Weber ran for 104 yards, most of them in the fourth quarter. But J.K. Dobbins was held to 28 yards on 14 carries and the Buckeyes averaged only 2.7 yards per carry.

Ohio State’s defense held Michigan State without a touchdown, aided by a spectacular day by punter Drue Chrisman, who despite having five punts at the MSU 6 or deeper was not named the Big Ten special teams player of the week.

Meyer said Ohio State’s linebackers, the subject of much criticism this year, played well. Tuf Borland, Malik Harrison and Pete Werner were all credited with having a “champions” performance.

“Tuf had a great day,” Meyer said. “He graded at almost 90 percent. Malik Harrison at 90. Pete Werner at 90. One of their best days.”

Meyer said he knows the Buckeyes must make significant strides to live up to their preseason billing as Big Ten favorites and College Football Playoff contenders. But there is plenty he likes about this team.

“I like the people,” he said. “No, I love the people.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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