COLUMBUS – Before Urban Meyer started to make sure Dwayne Haskins was ready for Penn State, he checked to make sure he was ready for Columbus.
In just four games stuffed with statistics as brilliant as chrome in sunlight, Ohio State’s redshirt sophomore quarterback has become the face of the No. 4-ranked Buckeyes.
He has completed 75 percent of his passes for 1,194 yards and 16 touchdowns with only one interception. A pre-programmed drone couldn’t deliver passes to receivers’ hands any more accurately than he has.
But he also has had 3.5 fewer years of being Ohio State’s starting quarterback and everything that comes with it than the quarterback he followed, J.T. Barrett. So Meyer made a phone call to him on his way home from the Buckeyes’ 49-6 win over Tulane last Saturday.
“I called him Saturday night. I was driving home from the game and I called him with that message – just stay focused. We’ve had some pretty high profile guys around here and I’ve seen it go both ways. One thing about Columbus, Ohio is that this is the show and they become bigger than life,” Meyer said on Monday at his weekly press conference.
Meyer indicated the call was strictly cautionary. He hasn’t seen Haskins buying into the hype.
“He’s a very humble guy, a very conscientious guy who comes from a great family. He’s been great so far,” Meyer said.
With Haskins, four receivers with 10 catches or more, two starter-quality running backs and a possibly better than expected offensive line, Ohio State will go to Penn State on Saturday night scoring 54.5 points a game. Penn State averages 55 points a game.
OSU is averaging 365.8 yards a game passing and 233.2 yards a game rushing.
“It’s a very different offense right now. It was run first, pass second. This is do what they give you. I don’t think we’ve ever had a team average over 300 yards passing,” Meyer said. “The one thing Ryan and Kevin (offensive coordinators Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson) have done is utilize the skill set of the offensive personnel we have.
“You don’t go out and recruit just cookie cutter players. You’re going to recruit the best players you can. When we recruited Dwayne he had a very good skill set so it’s our job as coaches to adapt. I think we have over the years. We had Alex Smith (at Utah) who had a very unique skill set. We had Cardale Jones, who was a very different player than J.T. You had J.T., and Tebow and Braxton Miller.
“I have very good offensive coaches. They take what people can do and do what they do best,” he said.
Asked if he likes the new offense, Meyer said, “When it works.”
One group that has noticed the difference is high school quarterbacks being recruited by OSU.
Their response has been “very positive,” Meyer said. “A lot of them want to do what we’re doing right now.”
Some other thoughts from Meyer:
***ON NICK BOSA’S INJURY: “It’s going to be a few more weeks before we expect him back,” Meyer said.
He dismissed the idea might not return this season to protect his NFL draft status. He said Bosa wants to play and that there have been discussions with Bosa and his family and there will be more discussions.
“We’ve already had those conversations a little bit but that’s down the road when he becomes healthy again,” Meyer said.
“You can’t ask for a better family. I don’t want to paraphrase John and Sheryl ? Bosa but as they said we trusted our children to this program and we will continue to do so. Those conversations will be had. Not that you treat anybody different than another player but that’s a real conversation that we’re going to have.”
***ON OTHER INJURIES: Running back Mike Weber, who suffered a strained foot during the Tulane game, and defensive tackle Robert Landers, who missed that game because of an unspecified injury both will play Saturday at Penn State, Meyer said.
Freshman running back Brian Snead, who was left home for disciplinary reasons when OSU traveled to Dallas to play TCU, might not go to Penn State.
***NO COACH IN WAITING: Meyer said he did not have a plan to name Ryan Day “Coach in Waiting” at Ohio State, as reported in The Athletic on Sunday.
“I haven’t given any thought to it. Ryan’s an exceptional coach but I haven’t given any thought to that,” he said.
***NO EMPHASIS ON HISTORY: The winner of the Ohio State-Penn State game the last two seasons went on to play in the Big Ten championship game and won it. But Meyer said he won’t be emphasizing that as motivation this week.
“No, because there’s so much football to be played afterward. But this is a big game on the road. That (Penn State’s Beaver Stadium) is one of the tops in the country. It’s very loud and the fans are into it. You’ve got to be ready for that kind of environment.”