COLUMBUS – It’s not exactly breaking news Ohio State didn’t tackle very well in a 35-28 win over California last Saturday and has struggled in that area most of the season.
OSU football coach Urban Meyer acknowledged that problem, along with some others – like an inconsistent offense, the lack of a game-breaking running threat other than quarterback Braxton Miller and far too many penalties – at his weekly news conference on Monday.
But he also said there are some positives to weigh against those negatives.
He is happy with things like a pass rush that produced six sacks against California, an increase in turnovers forced by his team and the rapid development of a receiving corps that he leveled with a withering barrage of criticism when he first took over.
Tackling will be a point of emphasis this week as No. 16 OSU (3-0) prepares for its final pre-Big Ten tune-up against Alabama-Birmingham (0-2) at noon Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Sketchy tackling resulted in California rolling up 512 yards, the most OSU has given up in seven years. Meyer said 40 percent of that yardage came on just six plays, including touchdown runs of 81 yards and 59 yards by the Bears’ tailback Brendan Bigelow.
The way to get a grasp on tackling is emphasizing it in practice, Meyer said. And that increased emphasis means the Buckeyes will be hitting more in practice this week.
“You get what you emphasize,” Meyer said. “I know we tackle more than anybody (in practice) But obviously it’s not getting the job done so we have to tackle more. We’ve been tackling one day a week. We’ll probably have to go two now. It’s all about fundamentals and technique.”
The bottom line is that poor tackling is “not acceptable” to Meyer.
Ohio State has given up 13 plays of 20 yards or more in its first three games. The Buckeyes’ defensive struggles cost co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell lost some sleep after the California game.
“I lay awake when everyone else in the house was asleep Saturday night, watching the tape of that game,” he said. “It’s not one exact thing. It’s not a lack of effort.”
Safety Christian Bryant, who had one of the most glaring missed tackles in an otherwise solid game for him last Saturday, said, “Sometimes people were taking it for granted that somebody was already making the play and everybody not flying to the ball.
“But like Coach Meyer said, we’re going to work on tackling all this week. So I guess that is something we do need to work on.”
MILLER HONORED: Miller was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after playing a role in all five Ohio State touchdowns in its win over California.
The sophomore quarterback passed for four touchdowns and 245 yards and ran for a 55-yard touchdown.
He is the first Ohio State player named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week since Chris Wells in 2008.
MSU KICKOFF TIME: OSU’s game at Michigan State on Sept. 29 will have a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by ABC.
HYDE STILL OUT: Running back Carlos Hyde, who suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee against Central Florida, will miss a second consecutive game this week.