In the wake of Ohio State’s 63-14 drubbing of Penn State on Saturday, Urban Meyer opened his press conference by listing off the team’s champions for the victory against the Nittany Lions.
It might have been easier listing everyone who didn’t qualify.
A full nine offensive players were recognized, a list highlighted by co-offensive players of the week Carlos Hyde and Jack Mewhort. On the defensive side of the ball, co-players of the week Bradley Roby and Noah Spence stood out, while Jordan Hall was praised for his work with the special teams.
In all, 17 different players were given champions status, a list that also included Chris Fields, Devin Smith, Philly Brown, Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett, Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley (offense); Ryan Shazier, C.J. Barnett and Doran Grant (defense); and Craig Cataline and Dontre Wilson (special teams).
Among his comments, Meyer said “Heuerman is playing at a high level right now,” Mewhort “played as well as we’ve seen him play,” while Roby “played his best game” and Spence “played by far his best game” with 34 production points.
Not everything is 100 percent peachy, though, as the Buckeyes get ready to take on Purdue in West Lafayette this weekend. When asked if his team had any flaws coming off one of the worst beatings of a proud Penn State program in nearly a century, Meyer pointed to the depth at some spots as still an issue as the Buckeyes – ranked fourth in the BCS standings – continue to chase a national title.
“Oh, there are,” he said. “The linebacker position is still not solidified yet. We're not OSU expectation level at the linebacker position. This past week, most other positions played at a very high level. Some areas are real strong, but we have to keep getting better."
In worse news, Meyer confirmed that sophomore defensive back Devan Bogard, a key part of the team’s kickoff coverage unit, suffered a torn ACL covering a kick against the Nittany Lions and will have season-ending surgery this week. It was the same knee in which Bogard suffered an identical injury a season ago.
“Just crushing,” Meyer said. “He’s a great kid. He’s very positive about it and he’s going to have surgery this week. Big blow.”
Bogard made three tackles in seven games on special teams a season ago and had seven in eight games this season.
Among other injuries, the prognosis was good for quarterback Braxton Miller, wideout Evan Spencer and middle linebacker Curtis Grant. Miller dinged his knee late in his standout performance but was proclaimed to be fine by Meyer, and Spencer showed no ill effects of a tackle that left him needing medical attention. Grant, meanwhile, has a sore neck but won’t miss any time this week.
Before the press conference began, Miller was honored as the Big Ten offensive player of the week while Wilson was tabbed the league’s top freshman. Miller completed 18 of 24 passes for a career-high 252 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, while Wilson caught a 26-yard TD catch among his 96 all-purpose yards.
Meyer had praise for Miller, who has made a leap forward the past two games as he continues to get more and more comfortable in the team’s offense.
"You should be better (in the second year in the offense),” Meyer said. “He is really better, though. I anticipated he’d be better, but he's a little better than better. That’s my master’s degree from Ohio State.”
In addition, Shazier and Barnett were named semifinalists for the Butkus and Thorpe awards, respectively. Shazier leads the Buckeyes with 66 tackles and has two sacks and two forced fumbles, while Barnett has 39 stops and an interception.
In all, Meyer was happy with the active nature of the Ohio State defense against the Nittany Lions, as OSU made four sacks and forced three turnovers to aid the blowout victory.
“We did have some conversation,” Meyer said when asked if he went to the defensive coaches and asked for a more aggressive approach. “I'm an offensive guy, and disruptive defenses are very hard to work against. I thought that Luke Fickell and Everett Withers did a good job of mixing in some pressures. We disrupted that quarterback.”
For further updates from today’s press conference, which also included defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and tight ends coach Tim Hinton, click here.