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Football: Dante Booker to return and more from Urban Meyer on the Big Ten coaches teleconference

Ohio State senior linebacker Dante Booker (33) attempts to sack Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley in the second quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

No. 9 Ohio State will receive some reinforcements in its upcoming rivalry game against No. 24 Michigan with redshirt junior linebacker Dante Booker cleared to play, head coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference.

Booker had missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury, and was replaced by sophomore Malik Harrison against Michigan State and redshirt senior Chris Worley against Illinois.

“He’ll be cleared. So that’s good news,” Meyer said Tuesday. “He’s going to practice today.”

The return of Ohio State’s third starting linebacker will be a welcomed sight to a team looking to slow down Michigan’s potent rushing offense. Meyer said the play of running back Karan Higdon has stood out to him in his preparation for the Wolverines’ offense heading into the game.

“I think [Higdon] is an outstanding player and their interior offensive line is really, really good,” Meyer said. “And then they do a very good job of moving and shifting and trying to create gap issues for you, and so we’re spending an incredible amount of time on that.”

Here are some more quotes from Meyer on the teleconference:

Meyer on Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst: “I think he’s one of their best players if not the best player. He’s outstanding. He’s been that way for the last couple years. We have a lot of respect for him.”

Meyer on importance of rivalries in college football: “I actually learned about the rivalry here and I took that with me on my journey at different stops. And I just am a big fan of rivalries and big fan of the pageantry of college football, which I think rivalries separates college football from other sports. And so I just have always had great respect for rivalries.”

Meyer on key to winning rivalry matchups: “I think it’s just the focus and the attention to detail and I think that big ‘R-word,’ the respect that you have for it and understand that this rivalry is there well before them and it’s going to be there after them and same with our coaches. So it’s just, we’ve got to do the best we can to respect it and the best way to respect is to play really hard and prepare the best you can.”

Meyer on preparation in special teams: “Obviously this will be a very good challenge because they have great players all over the place. Their kickoff game is outstanding. And they come after, they’re very aggressive on their punt blocks so we’re going to spend a lot of time getting ready for it because you’re right, this is always a big part of the game.”

Meyer on the uncertainty behind Michigan’s starting quarterbacks: “I don’t think, I’d have to check with [defensive coordinator] Greg [Schiano] and our defensive staff more than myself, but I think they’re all similar. They’re very good players and I think it’s not like they drastically change their system with whoever’s in there.”

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