Ohio State coach Urban Meyer spoke to the media on Monday to talk about the top-ranked Buckeyes’ 38-10 win over Penn State and the team’s upcoming week.
Meyer declined to answer the most pressing question about who his starting quarterback for Saturday’s contest against Rutgers will be, but he acknowledged that in his mind he has an idea of who it will be.
Here are three highlights from his press conference.
Best foot forward
Meyer expressed high praise of the Buckeyes’ effort in the victory over the Nittany Lions.
“Probably our best all-around effort,” he said.
To relay it in a quantitative way, 19 players graded out as “champions” for their performances against Penn State.
Offensively, there were two players of the game in redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett and senior left tackle Taylor Decker.
Meyer said Decker “probably” played his best game of the year, while also touting the entire unit’s showing on Saturday.
Junior defensive end Joey Bosa was the defense’s player of the game. Meyer called the performance from Bosa, who finished the game with seven tackles and one sack, “dominant.”
On special teams, junior punter Cameron Johnston garnered the nod for player of the game. The Geelong, Australia, native had four punts downed inside the 10-yard line, including one at the 4-yard line and another at the 2.
“He’s really, really good at his job,” Meyer said of Johnston.
The coach admitted that the Buckeyes did have a couple weaknesses in the game, but he remained positive about the win.
“Overall, really proud of our guys,” he said.
Good guys touching the ball
Meyer has mentioned throughout the season that he and his staff brainstorm the amount of touches that players will get during each forthcoming game.
On Monday, he offered insight as to why the staff does so.
“We have a big belief that scheme isn’t what wins games. That’s very important. That’s not what wins,” Meyer said. “What wins are the dynamic players that touch the ball.”
He referenced Barrett’s 13-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against Penn State as proof for his point.
Meyer admitted the called play was “probably the perfect play” for that situation, but why it worked was not because quarterbacks coach Tim Beck radioed it in; it’s what the guys on the field did, Meyer said.
“(Barrett) read the defensive end. The end grabbed the tailback. The tight end came up and fit up on the corner, who squeezed. The wide receiver blocked the X at tackle, grabbed the mike linebacker, and J.T. went in for a touchdown,” Meyer said. “So you can spend all your time on scheme, and they don’t come out and play. So more important than scheme is who is physically touching that ball.”
Meyer said sometimes there might be a temptation to force the ball to certain players based on the number of touches the coaches set before the game, but he doesn’t believe it is an issue.
“That’s how we do that. I’ve always believed that,” Meyer said. “The good guys have got to touch the ball. They’ve earned that right.”
Freshman Torrance Gibson’s name is talked about often, despite him never seeing the field for the Scarlet and Gray through seven games.
The former five-star recruit from Florida came to Columbus as a quarterback but opted to spend his freshman campaign at wide receiver in an attempt to play.
Gibson suffered a foot injury in August that set him back in his quest to contribute for OSU, but he has been healthy for the past few weeks. However, against Penn State, he was not in uniform.
“You just have to earn your right to dress, and he didn’t do it last week,” Meyer said. “Just academics and that kind of stuff. Nothing serious. It’s just to go out there, you have to do a series of things.”
Meyer said that Gibson is still on the team and he anticipates the freshman to be back shortly.
As for his transition to pass-catcher, Gibson is doing great, Meyer said.
“His production and grasp has been better,” he said.
Gibson’s 2015 campaign appears to spurious as he switched to wide receiver to avoid having to redshirt. Now, it looks like that there is real possibility he will.
“We haven’t made that decision,” he said. “He was playing so good and got dinged, and all of a sudden right in the season do you burn his redshirt? Those are things we’re going through right now.”