The No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (1-1, 1-0 Big Ten) enter Week 3 of the season amid an offensive and defensive identity crisis following Saturday’s loss to now-No. 2 Oklahoma. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer addressed key concerns during Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference moving into the Buckeyes’ game at home against Army Saturday at 4:30 on FOX.
Meyer said he and Barrett have had conversations about when the three-time captain can be more aggressive running and passing the ball. Against Oklahoma, on the rare occasion where Barrett had open receivers, he missed the receiver or waited too long for the route to develop, resulting in an incompletion.
“I think as an offense we have to be more creative and take more chances, and you have to be educated about it,” Meyer said. “If we hit some of those plays and a couple of those guys go up and make some of those plays and we hit them, it’s obviously a different ball game. But that’s the way it is.”
Since the conclusion of Saturday’s contest, not only has the quarterback position been a hot topic for debate, but also the effectiveness of the porous pass defense has come into question. When asked if Meyer had any changes planned following the Oklahoma game, similar to changes he made in the defense following the 2014 loss to Virginia Tech, he didn’t give much of an answer.
“We’re constantly evaluating our pass defense ‘cause we’ve been exposed the last two weeks,” he said. “So there are two things. One, just making sure we’re doing the right things, and that’s every-day evaluation, and then also making sure these young players getting their first opportunity as a player continue to improve.”
Here are other notes from Meyer’s Week 3 teleconference.
On preparing for Army: Meyer said the triple-option offense Army runs, as well as its 3-4 defense are “very hard to prepare for.” He specifically said the defense attacks the offense from all angles.
On general message for defense: “Very similar message that’s program wide right now that we’re not playing on all cylinders. I think we’re playing hard, we’re not playing necessarily smart. We turned some guys loose in coverage last year and some guys are stepping outside the defense trying to make plays and not doing exactly what they’re taught to do. So just understanding that this is a very different week.
“It’s very hard to work on your base fundamentals because this is such a unique offense and every waking moment will be spent on preparing for the wishbone, but throughout the next several weeks, it’s all about getting better, improving and doing exactly what you’re coached to do.”
On leadership comparison between Tim Tebow and J.T. Barrett: “I do and you know that’s a tall order to place on someone, but that’s the respect I have for J.T.”
On balance of winning each week and improving in passing game each week: “It’s the task at hand and to continue to win games, that’s going to be a priority. It has been a priority, now we have to see the rewards of the priority.”
On Meyer’s coaching philosophy from military philosophy: “A high percentage of it. I always tell people that it’s the highest possible regard for leadership, highest possible regard for selflessness and teamwork is our United States military. It’s really unchallenged as far as how successful they are, the kind of people they develop and that’s high majority of what we do is centered on that.”
On what’s lacking in option offense: “There’s always going to be an element of it. I think option can create big plays. You know, what’s missing from our offense is big plays and big hits and there are two ways to do that — or really three ways and one’s the obvious — you hand the ball off, you have a great player, you block it and he pulls a [Ezekiel Elliott] or a J.K. [Dobbins] or a Mike Weber and breaks a long one. The second one is option football, where you get out in space with good athletes … and the third is the execution of the pass game, and we’re working all three and obviously we have to get better at all three of them. And when you do, this is a very potent offense.”