The national perception of a bye week in football seems to be that teams will rest and enjoy some time away from the game.
Ohio State is not one of those teams.
Coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday during the Big Ten conference call that his team will not be taking much time off during its bye week following a 66-0 win against Kent State on Saturday.
“Last Tuesday I made a decision during practice — we went 55 plays on a Tuesday, which normally, you don’t do,” Meyer said. “We have to get these guys game reps. From our starting quarterback to our starting right guard, to our two tailbacks, they are all new players. A handful of receivers, we have to just get them as many reps as we can.”
One of those players is redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Billy Price, who said following Saturday’s game against Kent State that although the Buckeyes improved from their loss to Virginia Tech, they still have some improvements to make.
“Nothing is going to be given to us, and we just wanted to come in and do our job,” Price said Saturday. “We have to get better as a whole. From this week to last week, I think we got better and we need to keep focusing on building.”
Another freshman, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, said after the win against the Golden Flashes that because he prepares hard in practice, he is becoming more in tune with the Buckeyes’ defensive playbook.
“I practice hard for the games during the week so the game will be easy,” McMillan said. “I learned from what the guys around me are doing, so I feel like I can play more loose now.”
Not only will the players be full-go this week, but Meyer said the coaches will be as well.
“Our staff — I gave them Sunday off but we are back at it full speed, on the road all day yesterday and we are back at it,” Meyer said. “We will give them Saturday off next week (Sept.20). Other than that, we are full speed ahead, getting ready to go.”
Meyer said the two question marks he had going into the season still remain, and that the Buckeyes will need to improve in those areas during the bye week.
“The same two concerns I had going into the season are still there: pass defense and offensive line play,” Meyer said. “The offensive line is getting very close, they played very well Saturday, but we still have an obligation to get the five best guys in there. We are still not quite sure. This week is going to be important.”
Meyer also stressed the pass defense, especially after watching Cincinnati dismantle Toledo through the air last week as Bearcat redshirt-sophomore quarterback Gunner Kiel threw for 418 yards and six touchdowns in a 58-34 win against the Rockets.
“I watched them live Friday night on TV. I was kind of like most of the country, like ‘woah,’” Meyer said. “It was one of those — I thought it was going to be one of the 50-0 and that kid was going to throw for 500 yards.”
Meyer, who is a Cincinnati alumnus, said he expects the game against the Bearcats to be a competitive one.
“It is exactly what I saw on film, what I saw on TV Friday night,” Meyer said of the Bearcats. “Excellent quarterback, with very good receivers, good protection, athletic defens. They gave up some yards, but they will be better than that so this is a big game for us.”
Meyer has faced his alma mater once before as the coach for the Florida Gators in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, a game that his team won handily, 51-24.
Although Meyer has defeated Cincinnati, he has yet to defeat its coach, Tommy Tuberville.
Tuberville, who was the coach at Auburn from 1999 to 2008, faced Meyer twice when both coached in the Southeastern Conference. Tuberville won back-to-back games against Meyer in 2006 and 2007.
Tuberville’s teams were the lower-ranked team in both games.
The Buckeyes are set to take on the Bearcats on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. in Ohio Stadium following the bye week.