Meyer Address Health, Buckeyes After Practice

Spring football is here, and the Ohio State football team is back on the practice field. The Buckeyes first spring practice was Tuesday and afterwards head coach Urban Meyer gave an update on his health, Braxton Miller and several other subjects.

Spring football kicked off Tuesday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, with the Buckeyes taking the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and head coach Urban Meyer taking time to meet with the media after a three-plus hour practice.

Meyer's health was a main topic a day after Ohio State confirmed that the head coach recently underwent a procedure on Saturday to remove fluid around a cyst that was causing headaches. After watching his charges complete the first of 15 spring practice days, Meyer downplayed any concern about his wellbeing. He said he felt "good, not great."

"I feel good, not great," said Meyer, who for a white Ohio State baseball cap – a rarity during his coaching tenure. "I had it for several years. It's a cyst. … It's surfaced a couple of times – once in 1998, once in 2004 and a couple of other times. It's just something you have to manage.

"I'm not going to be ignorant like I was before," Meyer added. "If something happens, I'm going to get it fixed."

Meyer did not appear limited on the practice field but said doctors told him to watch how loud he screams and how long he blows his whistle.

In addition to his health, Meyer gave updates on several on-field subjects. The first of which was an update on Ohio State's defense, which struggled during the 2013 season. Fixing things on that side of the football is important, and Meyer said he wants to make sure the Buckeyes play hard and don't over-think things too much.

The head coach called the 2013 defense a "what if" group, meaning they worried too much about what the opposing offense was being an effort-based group.

"I saw it from our coaches and I saw it from our players," Meyer said. "So what I'm looking for is simplicity, 4-to-6 (seconds of effort) and if you can't give us that, then move on."

Meyer added he does not care if the offense puts up some big plays against the defense this spring as long as he sees that burst of effort out of the defense.

"I don't want a team that's scared to make mistakes," Meyer said. "I don't want a team that's thinking. I want a team that goes 4-to-6 seconds. Put your foot in the ground and go A to B as fast and as hard as you can."

The linebacker position was named as a main defensive concern by Meyer, but he added that he was pleased by what he saw from newcomer Raekwon McMillan, who worked as a middle linebacker during his first collegiate practice.

"I was very impressed with Raekwon today," Meyer said. "Moved around, very mature."

Another player to catch Meyer's eye at linebacker was sophomore Darron Lee, who worked with the top defensive unit for parts of the scrimmage.

"He deserves it," Meyer said. "He's got all the skills. His negative was that he played quarterback at New Albany. We just have to get him ready to play."

Senior quarterback Braxton Miller did not participate, as was expected following offseason surgery. He wore a black sling on his right arm and midway through the practice he donned a red cap that included a camera on the bill and a microphone.

Meyer said the "contraption" – Meyer's word for the cap – will help his signal caller have a productive spring despite not taking snaps. The head ware allows Miller to call out a play and say what he sees from behind the practicing offense.

After working primarily on fundamentals last season, Meyer wants Miller to focus on other things this spring.

"His issues now are verbal communication and keeping his eyes on the secondary," said Meyer, who added the special cap will allow the senior to progress in both those aspects.

As for Miller's backups, Meyer said he was unimpressed with the trio of scholarship quarterbacks who are battling for the lion's share of snaps this spring – junior Cardale Jones, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett and newcomer Stephen Collier.

"I wasn't particularly impressed with either guy today," said Meyer, referencing Jones and Barrett.

As for the practice itself, Buckeye Sports Bulletin staffers were on hand and will be posting their observations on the Ask the Insiders message board. In addition to Miller, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman was out because of a broken nose suffered in OSU's weight room. Also sidelined were senior wide receiver Evan Spencer, junior offensive lineman Chase Farris and junior linebacker Devan Bogard – all recovering from offseason surgeries like Miller.

The practice also saw the debuts of senior Joel Hale at offensive line (previously a defensive tackle) and sophomore Cameron Burrows at safety (previously a cornerback).

The Buckeyes will be back on the practice field on Thursday at the WHAC. Ohio State's other practice days are March 18, 20, 22, 25, 27 and 29 and April 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 11 and 12 – the last of which occurring at Ohio Stadium for an annual spring game.

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