In the final media appearance of the week before Saturday at Maryland, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer spoke Thursday on his radio show with 97.1 The Fan.
Throughout his segment, he provided an updated overview of the No. 10 Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1) before they enter their latest Big Ten test on the road over the weekend against the Terrapins (5-5, 3-4).
Ahead of the noon kickoff on ABC from Maryland Stadium in College Park, Md., Meyer shared a string of injury updates and several personnel thoughts on both sides of the ball as noted in the recap below.
- Fifth-year senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin his made his mark on special teams, where Meyer sees freshman wide receiver Chris Olave filling in the same capacity between offense.
- “(Olave will) take the rod from (McLaurin) and become the next great gunner,” said Meyer, who noted earlier in the week that Olave is “ahead of schedule” in terms of development and later added that, “He’s involved in everything. The fans are going to love him around here because he made that big play against Michigan State and had two catches, I believe, in key areas of the game.”
- Between the 36-31 win over Nebraska on Nov. 3 and the 26-6 victory at Michigan State on Nov. 10, Meyer has been pleased with the defense’s overall improvement from the 49-20 loss at Purdue on Oct. 20 — particularly in the department of big plays.
- “The big plays are starting to get eliminated here,” Meyer said. “This challenge this week is going to be, this offense offense we’re getting ready to face is all big plays. It’s either, really, feast or famine. It’s a big hit with one of those really good athletes. They’re limited. They’re quarterback’s out. But this will (still) be (a test). One of the strengths the last two weeks is we’re starting to eliminate the big plays because we’re tackling well.”
- Asked about how recruiting changes as high school seasons start to wind down — Ohio State should be able to get more prospects on campus for the Michigan game Nov. 24 — Meyer noted the obvious advantages but said the approach remains.
- “Obviously, you have more access and they can come to your games,” Meyer said. “But it really doesn’t change much. Obviously, you’re not as busy and they’re focused on life after high school football now.”
- Although the offense added its wrinkle with redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Martell in the red zone, Meyer shot down the idea of an Ohio State package with Martell on the field at the same time as sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins despite noting that the staff has “talked about that.”
- “We’ve been working hard at it,” Meyer said. “The red zone is very difficult — not just for us, but for everybody. When you get in there, how do you equate numbers is always the answer. If you’re a pro-style (offense) and bring everybody in, (the defense) just brings everybody in. If you’re playing in a five-yard box, 22 people. That’s really, traditionally, not what we’ve done. So I think Tate gives us a little bit of an answer done there. I think we’ll use him more in the future and remains to be seen.”
- Along the offensive line, Meyer provided updates on junior Branden Bowen and fifth-year senior Brady Taylor after both dressed for the past two games but did not play for the offense, also noting that redshirt freshman Wyatt Davis “has earned playing time” as “a big dude that can move people.”
- “Branden Bowen’s game-ready and Brady Taylor’s close,” Meyer said. “(Taylor is) helping up with field goal. We are getting a little bit of depth. We were done to bare bones about five weeks ago, four weeks ago.”
- Isaiah Pryor missed the Nebraska game with a shoulder impingement and did not travel to Michigan State, but Meyer updated the sophomore safety’s status as “coming back” for Maryland.
- “He’s getting healthy now and he’s a very talented guy,” Meyer said. “So we need him.”
- Meyer mentioned Wednesday that Baron Browning was downgraded from probable to out for the Maryland game after not playing at Michigan State, but the head coach clarified the sophomore linebacker’s status for the Michigan game Nov. 24.
- “Browning will be — should be ready for next week,” Meyer said.
- While fifth-year senior Sean Nuernberger started the season as Ohio State’s veteran placekicker until he tweaked his groin/quad before the 30-14 win over Minnesota on Oct. 13, sophomore Blake Haubeil handles that role with kickoff specialist into the Maryland game.
- “He’s on call, ready to go,” Meyer said of Nuernberger. “Blake has been outstanding, kickoffs and field goals. Right now, Sean’s on call, ready to go.”
- Near the end of an answer on Austin Mack and his activism at Ohio State — he is president of the student-run organization Redefining Athletic Standards (RAS) — Meyer mentioned how the offense misses the junior wide receiver as a leader and as a producer.