COLUMBUS ‚?? Before he ever said a word, Urban Meyer delivered a message to Ohio State‚??s defensive players on Sunday.
After the Buckeyes hung on for a 52-49 win over Indiana, last Saturday -- which was the most points allowed by an OSU defense since 1994 -- Meyer said he planned to become more involved with the defense.
That involvement began the next day when he appeared in the defensive meetings to review Saturday‚??s game against IU.
He told the defense he was disappointed with how they‚??d played, but just seeing the head coach, who had concentrated on the offense until then, sent a message, cornerback Travis Howard said.
Meyer‚??s message was not complicated. ‚??Eliminate the big play,‚?Ě he said. ‚??I met with the entire defensive team and the defensive staff. Instead of just making noise and whining, we have to put a plan together and that‚??s to eliminate big plays.
‚??It‚??s been absurd how many big plays we‚??ve given up,‚?Ě Meyer said.
Meyer‚??s message of change was delivered calmly. ‚??I‚??m not a big believer in just screaming and yelling and throwing Gatorade bottles against the wall. Sometimes you have to do that. However, you fix what the problem is.‚?Ě
The first test of Ohio State‚??s ability to cut down on big plays by the opposition will come against Purdue on Saturday.
Meyer said his presence in the defensive meeting room did not signal a lack of trust in his assistant coaches.
‚??I think my job is to support our staff, support our players. Calling defenses, I‚??ll give my ideas but it would be a mistake for me to come in (and call plays). We have very good coaches, very good coaches,‚?Ě he said.
Co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell has taken some heat from fans and on sports talk shows for Ohio State‚??s defensive struggles. He says it‚??s part of the game when you‚??re a coach.
‚??If you could put more pressure on me that I put on myself, I don‚??t know if you could do that. The outside pressures ‚?? I don‚??t feel them,‚?Ě he said.
Fickell also emphasized not allowing big plays. ‚??Don‚??t whine, don‚??t complain, don‚??t make excuses,‚?Ě he said. ‚??We know it‚??s about big plays, and if we can limit big plays, we‚??ll be in a lot better situation.‚?Ě
OSU made one personnel change on defense last week when it moved starting fullback Zach Boren to inside linebacker. Meyer called that move ‚??temporarily permanent‚?Ě and hinted another change could be coming after freshman defensive end Noah Spence played well at Indiana.
‚??The thing you have to ask yourself is that Nathan Williams and Noah Spence play the same position so let‚??s have a conversation about that and we are. How to get them both on the field at the same time is what the conversation is about,‚?Ě he said.
Despite being known for his high-scoring offenses, Meyer says the best teams emphasize defense.
‚??When you get to where the air is rare, the real elite teams, at some point you got to play some real good defense,‚?Ě he said.
WILLIAMS EXPECTED BACK: Williams, who missed last week‚??s game at Indiana with a concussion, is expected to play this Saturday.
Running back Jordan Hall is doubtful against Purdue. ‚??He‚??s jogging but he‚??s not healing real well,‚?Ě Meyer said. Hall suffered a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee at Michigan State on Sept. 29.
PENN STATE KICKOFF MOVED: Ohio State‚??s game at Penn State on Oct. 27 will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN. It was originally scheduled for 6 p.m.
MORE TIME FOR HEUERMAN: Tight end Jeff Heuerman played his best game at Ohio State, Meyer said. Heuerman played 48 plays against Indiana and will play more in the future. Meyer also said wide receiver Jake Stoneburner played his best game of the season.