Buckeye football coach Urban Meyer today sat down for his weekly session with Paul Keels, Jim Lachey and the listeners of 97.1 The Fan, and he spent a lot of his call-in show talking about the importance of beginning Big Ten play.
“Whenever you start facing opponents from your conference, there’s a reward at the end of it–other than just the win–and it’s called first place,” Meyer said.
In addition, this will be the Buckeyes first away game this season. Considering that Meyer said he measures a player’s greatness by how he performs in “rivalry games, championship games and on the road,” it’s probably safe to assume that Meyer views this matchup as a real test.
To pass this test, Meyer says his defense needs to tackle well, keep Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell from getting to the second level, and put pressure on Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
Although he didn’t include it in his defensive keys, he did agree with those who want to see OSU play more press coverage. What’s prevented them from doing so, he said, is that while he may have three or four players who would excel in this scheme, he doesn’t have the five he would need.
As for the Buckeye offense? Meyer’s three keys there were simple. “We have to not have the three-and-outs. We need to sustain the ball, move the ball, and play field position. When we have the opportunity to score, we need to hit it.”
Other notes from today’s show:
- Meyer downgraded the possibility of safety CJ Barnett (ankle) from probable to questionable.
- Michael Bennett (groin) will make the trip to East Lansing, but “Even if he plays it won’t be much.”
- Although Meyer feels that Nathan Williams is still not 100 percent after his microfracture surgery, he still trusts him enough to say they’re going to move him around this weekend in order to get Williams and John Simon isolated on the MSU running backs.
- Meyer is not worried about noise being a factor. He said the offense operates through the use of hand signals, and they’ll use cards to indicate personnel groupings this weekend. There is one other adjustment they’ll make. “You’ve got the cadence issues, which are obvious,” Meyer added, “so you won’t be motioning as much, because you can’t time it up.”
- When Jim Lachey pointed out that Michigan is last in the Big Ten rankings in terms of turnover margin, Meyer joked, “I hope they’re last in everything.”