With 20 days left until the Ohio State football team begins the 2012 season against Miami (Ohio), new Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer spoke to reporters about the progress his team is making during preseason camp.
Heading into a stretch of 10 practices in a seven-day span beginning Monday, Meyer sounded pleased with the effort from his charges.
“(We’re) right on schedule,” Meyer said. “I think I can tell one of the challenges I had for (quarterbacks) Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton was to throw the ball a little bit, and they have. Not near where we need to be throwing the ball, but much different than what you saw in the spring – much different.
“I saw a team that went out and worked.”
Meyer continues to be satisfied with the work put in from his quarterbacks, despite Miller and Guiton being what Meyer called “caged tigers” because they are wearing black non-contact jerseys.
“We’ll open that cage on Sept. 1. Up until then, they won’t be touched,” Meyer said.
The head coach even suggested that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that there could be a package this season that would have both quarterbacks on the field at the same time.
“Braxton doesn’t know it yet, and neither does Kenny,” Meyer said. “But I have it on a piece of paper. We’ll have that chat probably pretty soon. I just want to see if they keep developing. If both guys are in our best 11, then it’s our job to find a way to get them on the field.”
In addition to the quarterbacks, Meyer listed several other players as ones who have made a positive impact during his 20-plus meeting with reporters on OSU’s Media Day. Included among them were tailback Carlos Hyde; defensive lineman Joel Hale; safety Christian Bryant; linebackers Etienne Sabino, Ryan Shazier, Curtis Grant and David Perkins; offensive linemen Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell and tight end Nick Vannett.
Vannett’s inclusion is worth noting because he could see more playing time because of Meyer’s announcement that senior Jake Stoneburner is working with the wide receivers. Meyer said the wide receiver group is much improved but “not Ohio State caliber yet.”
Like Stoneburner, Ohio State was hoping to rely on the skills of senior tailback Jordan Hall this fall – perhaps in the do-it-all spot that Percy Harvin made famous in Meyer’s offense at Florida. A foot injury sidelined Hall before camp began, and while Meyer said Hall’s rehab is ahead of schedule, Meyer added that he’s happy with the rest of the tailbacks.
“Obviously No. 7 (Hall) not being there has hurt us a little bit, but we asked them to pick it up. When someone goes down, someone’s got to go harder,” said Meyer, who added that behind Hyde, freshman Bri'onte Dunn and sophomore Rod Smith are batting for the backup spot.
Defensively, Meyer heaped some high praise on his defensive line. When asked if the Buckeyes' line could be a top unit, Meyer said yes - with an asterisk.
"If we get Nathan Williams back, I would say this is in that category," said Meyer, comparing the group to his talented defensive lines in 2006 and 2008 with Florida. "If he doesn't, I think we'll still be good, but I just think Nathan brings that much sting to you, and also experience."
While Meyer was upbeat about a lot of things surrounding his team, the head coach added that the upcoming week will be crucial toward success in the fall. Meyer said the preseason is all about development because of the number of opportunities to practice. The Buckeyes have 28 preseason practices, and once the season starts there will be only 24 practices – two per week.
“As a player, you’re not going to get that much better throughout the fall because you’ve got two practices a week. … This (week) will make or break us this season.”
For more on what Meyer had to say and more from Media Day, check out the Ask The Insiders message board. BSB staffers will have more coverage in the BSB Quickly digital edition that will be posted Aug. 14.