WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Urban Meyer just wanted to make sure.
Something just didn’t look right to him when Ohio State was warming up before its 56-0 win over Purdue on Saturday.
Or maybe he was just applying some of the principles he learned when he got his bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Whatever the reason, he turned to his agitator in chief, strength coordinator Mickey Marotti, to deliver a message before the Buckeyes took the field.
“We came in for pregame and our strength coach rattled their cages a little. I don’t want to say they were sleepy but I just didn’t like what I saw in pregame,” Meyer said. “He kind of rattled them up and made sure they woke up. He’s …What’s the proper word? Demonstrative?”
Marotti, a longtime Meyer lieutenant, downplayed his pregame talk when asked about it.
“They looked kind of dead. It was yelling and screaming. Coach Vrabel and Coach Drayton too. Just got them going, that’s all,” he said.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier said, “It was yelling and screaming. He knew exactly what we needed to hear.”
In the last two games, somebody or something has gotten Ohio State’s defense going.
Saturday’s game was the second in a row where OSU ramped up its aggressiveness and put more pressure on the quarterback.
The Buckeyes sacked Purdue freshman Danny Etling six times and intercepted him once. This came a week after sacking Penn State freshman QB Christian Hackenberg four times and intercepting him twice.
Hackenberg and Etling combined hit only 48 percent of their passes for a total of 201 yards.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier had two sacks Saturday and one against Penn State, and defensive end Noah Spence had two against Penn State and one against Purdue.
“I really like that style because it gets offenses off balance,” Shazier said about the shift to a more aggressive defense.
“We didn’t really blitz that much early in the year so they don’t have that much film on us blitzing. When they have a younger quarterback you can get to the quarterbacks and kind of rattle them a lot quicker,” he said.
The experience OSU’s eight first-year starters on defense have acquired also plays a role, Shazier said.
“At the beginning of the year we were still learning each other. There were a lot of young guys trying to learn their roles. We have nine games under our belt. We’re blitzing more and doing the things the coaches like to do. Everything is starting to add up.”
That pressure has added up to more help for Ohio State’s defensive backfield, which appeared in need of major help before the last two games.
“We’re getting after them, we’re getting pressure. That’s good for us (defensive backs) and good for the defense,” said Grant, who scored Ohio State’s first touchdown Saturday when he returned an interception 33 yards in the game’s first minute.
BABY, BABY: Offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s wife, Michelle, delivered their third child, a son named Maverick Joseph, on Thursday.
Originally, the plan was to induce labor next week during OSU’s bye week but the baby had other ideas.
Herman came into the office Thursday before being called to the hospital.
“I had to dock him a day’s pay. He came in for seven minutes,” Meyer joked in his postgame press conference.
“Maverick is a future Buckeye, and he’s welcomed as a great part of our family,” he said.
Herman’s daughter is named Priya and his other son is named Maddock Thomas Danger, so adding Maverick is not out of leftfield.
Asked about the attraction of the name, Herman said, “Obviously, the translation of the word as someone who doesn’t conform to society, who kind of blazes their own trail. I just wanted to make sure my son has a nice, strong name that means something.
“And it’s one of the best characters in movies of all time,” he said, referring to Tom Cruise’s character in “Top Gun.”
INJURY UPDATE: Starting offensive tackle Taylor Decker suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament that forced him out of the game in the third quarter.
Meyer estimated he could be out a week or two. Last season, Ohio State’s offensive line, including four of this year’s starters, played 12 games without any of the starters missing a game.
Through the first nine games this season, the same five offensive linemen have started every game.
Defensive lineman Michael Bennett left the game with a “stinger,” a shoulder injury, and linebacker Curtis Grant left with a sprained ankle.