Coming off a 56-14 beatdown of Nebraska (3-4, 2-2 Big Ten) on the road, No. 6 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) has a chance to catch its breath during its off week before playing host to No. 2 Penn State on Oct. 28.
Head coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference he is going to use the bye week as a chance for the team to not only take it easy, but also to begin with some early preparations for the Buckeyes’ most daunting opponent this season.
“It’s a combination of both [rest and preparation for Penn State],” Meyer said. “Fundamental preparation, but also we’re facing the No. 2 team in America, so we’re getting a head start on them as well.”
For a lot of teams, the off week is not only a chance for the players to rest, but also for coaches to spend some time recruiting. Without as much time dedicated to practice, Meyer can shift some of the coaching staff’s focus to securing the commitment of top recruits.
“We also understand it’s October and a lot of these players are making so many early decisions nowadays,” Meyer said. “The entire staff was out Monday and some guys are still out and on their way back now for practice. So it’s a very serious time to get out and making the last — you can’t see the players, but at least see the school and at least show support for them.”
Here are some additional notes from the teleconference:
Meyer on the health of redshirt sophomore left tackle Jamarco Jones and senior defensive end Jalyn Holmes: “All are very probable. They’ll all be ready by next week.”
Meyer on redshirt junior right guard Demetrius Knox: “I understand he did grade a champion, which is excellent for his first real career start at Ohio State and it comes at the right time. He certainly has the skillset to play if he decides that this is the kind of jump start his career. We’re all in if he can do that.”
Meyer on redshirt junior kicker Sean Nuernberger’s key to improved season: “Just the power, we changed his whole entire strength program starting — this spring he wasn’t hitting the ball at all. And he really had a bad year and he’s really strong right now. He’s very powerful. He’s hit a couple 60-yarders in practice, so he’s getting much stronger.”
Meyer on defensive struggles in the second half against Nebraska: “I think the fact they hit a couple big ones and that just alarms you when you see a player run away from your secondary like the one big touchdown. I know [defensive coordinator Greg] Schiano is going to address it and we have to play better in the back end. But like you said, we’ve seen a lot of progress, but we’re also — and I’ve said it many, many times — very realistic about what’s happened the last five games and what’s coming up the next few games, so starting with Penn State. That’s an area that needs to continue to improve because we’re nowhere near where we need to be.”
Meyer on offensive keys to improvement: “And the key to the championship year in  in our great year … is that when you get to the big games that your offense continues to perform. Last year, that did not happen. This time last year, we have a similar type scores and a lot of the same statistics, however I do feel it is much smoother. I feel the communication, the play-calling I think excellent right now and the development of players. The group of receivers, this is one of the best groups we’ve ever had. I just like the development of the offense right now. We’ll see if we’re having this conversation in a few weeks. If we are, that means we’re a legitimate top offense.”