Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Things got heated between Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and one reporter Tuesday afternoon during the Big Ten coaches teleconference.
Meyer, who won his debut and the Buckeyes’ season-opener against Miami (Ohio), 56-10, on Saturday, discussed the team’s performance, its next opponent, Central Florida, and when it might expect injured running back Jordan Hall to return to action.
It’s not always sunny in the Sunshine State
The teleconference got a little tense when Mike Bianchi, a sports columnist from the Orlando Sentinel, told Meyer that some Florida fans are still upset that he left Gainesville, Fla., for Columbus, and that those fans might be rooting for UCF this Saturday.
Rather than brush the comment off, Meyer said Bianchi’s information was wrong.
“Your facts are, not surprisingly, incorrect,” Meyer told the reporter.
After the exchange, Bianchi tweeted from his Twiiter account, @BianchiWrites, “Just asked #UrbanMeyer on teleconference about #Gators fan rooting against him Saturday against UCF and he got a bit snippy.”
Meyer coached at Florida for six seasons before leaving the program in 2010, citing health issues. He worked as a college football commentator and analyst for ESPN the following year and was hired as OSU’s coach in November 2011.
Meyer said he would always be a Gator.
“I love Florida,” he said. “And I will always love Florida.”
After moving four spots up in the latest Associated Press college football poll, the No. 14 Buckeyes are scheduled to host UCF Saturday at noon in Ohio Stadium. The Knights won their opener against Akron, 56-14, last weekend and received four votes in this week’s AP poll.
Meyer said the coaching staff is having some trouble simulating UCF’s game plan, as the footage from their first game will likely be different from what OSU sees this Saturday.
“They didn’t show much of the spread quarterback run last week, because they didn’t have to,” Meyer said. “But we’re in a bit of a dilemma, we are preparing as if they are going to run some of that this week.”
Meyer noted that UCF’s redshirt sophomore quarterback, Blake Bortles, is the type of player who can make plays with his arm and his legs. Bortles threw for 168 yards last week, but didn’t see much action as a runner.
“(Bortles) is a big athlete,” Meyer said. “The guys that can’t pull it down and run, they better be great throwers. The guys that pull it down, run and extend drives, those are the guys that usually beat you. He can do that and he has very good personnel around him.”
Catching on to success
Sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith’s touchdown reception against the RedHawks impressed the Buckeyes’ coach, and Meyer said it was “as good of a catch as I’ve ever seen.”
Meyer said that exceptional plays, such as Smith’s acrobatic catch, could be the turning point in a player’s career.
“I’m hoping that every great athlete has a moment in their career where they go from being average to good, or from being good to much better than good,” Meyer said. “I’m hoping that (catch) is one of (Devin’s) moments.”
Senior captain and running back Jordan Hall sustained a non-football related injury during the summer, and Meyer said that he is still recovering. Hall stepped on a piece of glass while walking his dog in late June and needed surgery to repair the damage.
“I saw him jogging today on the treadmill,” Meyer said. “He’s pushing as hard as he can. He will not be available this week though.”
In Hall’s place, junior running back Carlos Hyde is slated to start for the Buckeyes. Hyde had 17 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns last week against Miami (Ohio).
Room for improvement
Quarterback Braxton Miller set a school record for rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback, running for 161 yards against Miami.
Meyer said the sophomore can still improve though.
“I would like to see him start a little better,” Meyer said. “He tried to play Superman a few times. When the read told him to give the ball, he pulled it. When the pocket started to collapse on him, he bailed instead of staying there and delivering the ball.”
In his first start under Meyer, Miller stumbled out of the gates, completing just one of seven pass attempts for five yards in the first quarter.
Meyer said that his quarterback might have been trying to do too much early in the game.
“I get it,” Meyer said. “He was so fired up, so excited to play and wanted to electrify the crowd and get this thing going a little bit, especially when we were struggling. He just needs to play his position.”
Miller finished the game with 207 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 161 yards and another touchdown on 17 attempts.