Even though Penn State now has a new offensive coordinator in Ricky Rahne, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in Tuesday’s Big Ten Teleconference he does not see much of a difference between the Nittany Lions’ offensive approach this season compared to the 2017 season with Joe Moorhead.
He said the Penn State offense still revolves around both the running game, with junior running back Miles Sanders, and the dual-threat ability of redshirt senior quarterback Trace McSorley.
“You give them credit because Miles Sanders pops right in there and he’s an outstanding player,” Meyer said. “We kind of saw glimpses of that last year, so a lot of respect for him, but the quarterback is the guy that gets this thing going.”
Meyer added that the Penn State offensive line is a major factor in each of the rushing successes of both McSorley and Sanders, saying it’s one of the best groups he has ever seen.
However, with McSorley, a player he has coached against before, Meyer sees the same thing he has seen each year he has played Penn State.
“His competitive spirit is unique to great players and that is what he is,” Meyer said.
With this, Meyer said he will have to have all hands on deck facing the No. 1 scoring offense in the Big Ten, including redshirt sophomore linebacker Tuf Borland.
Meyer said in the teleconference that Borland has been on a snap count as he recovers from an Achilles injury, but is a full-go moving forward, something Meyer said, a coach would not necessarily expect after an injury like this.
“We’ve had him in somewhat of a limited role and really watching him because a lot of times with an Achilles injury, he would not be back until November,” Meyer said. “But he fits his name. He’s tough as steel.”
Running game needs to stay on schedule
Even when facing a defense that has a number of new starters, Meyer said the offense, specifically the running game, will have to be in top form on Saturday.
“You have to stay in schedule and this is a team that takes great pride in taking you off schedule with their pressure,” Meyer said. “It’s going to be a move-the-chains type of game and continue to get first downs and get field position.”
In last Saturday’s win over Tulane, sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins led all Ohio State rushers with 55 yards. Also, redshirt junior running back Mike Weber was sidelined after the first half with a foot strain, something Meyer said, Monday, would not hinder him from playing against Penn State.
However, Meyer said the defensive scheme is very similar from Penn State teams of the past.
“Very active front, schematically, they are pretty much the same as they have always been, which is they can rush you from both sides and both edges of the offense,” Meyer said.
With a top-10 matchup this weekend between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 9 Penn State, Meyer was asked about the College Football Playoff system and whether it was a good representation for the best teams.
He said he thinks the committee does a solid job, but it would not be able to please everyone.
“I think they do a great job,” Meyer said. “If you have six, then it’s the seventh, eighth team going to be unhappy. If it’s eighth, ninth and 10th team is going to be unhappy, so I don’t know exactly. I know Gene Smith is involved, but we rarely talk about it.”
The playoff is not something Ohio State is focused on at this point. Meyer said the focus is solely on McSorley and Penn State on Saturday.
“There is no issue with that,” Meyer said. “This is all about getting ready for a very good team.”