Meyer Updates State of Buckeyes

The unofficial start of the college football season hit the Midwest on Monday with the first of the Big Ten football media days. What did Urban Meyer have to say about the state of his Ohio State team?

Urban Meyer had the answer all of Ohio State fandom wanted to know the most: Braxton Miller is healthy.

"Our quarterback -- I know we'll get asked that question -- is ready to go," the head coach of the Buckeyes said of his senior quarterback. "He's full speed, in the best shape of his life."

With that out of the way, he addressed a few other issues Monday on the first day of Big Ten football media days in Chicago, the unofficial start to the 2014 college football season in the Midwest.

He named the offensive line as the No. 1 concern heading into preseason practice and confirmed Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay is in the mix to win the open starting center job along with junior Jacoby Boren and redshirt freshman Billy Price.

"I only know from what I've seen, but Chad is a tough guy, a hard worker and he has a lot of experience," Meyer said. "That's why we took him. We needed some maturity in the center of that offensive line."

After the offensive line -- a major strength last year gutted by graduation -- he called the No. 2 concern for the start of 2014 an area of weakness in 2013: pass defense. That is a unit that will not only contain three new starters but also feature a new style of play under new co-coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash.

Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell, sophomores who are likely to claim the two vacant starting spots at safety, are both doing well after offseason surgeries, and Meyer also said he has been impressed with incoming freshmen Erick Smith and Marshon Lattimore, both of Cleveland Glenville.

"Chris Ash has done an admirable job of installing a brand-new pass defense that we're going to test and see how it goes during training camp, went very well during spring," Meyer said. "Very good group of young people that I'm looking forward to work with. They come in on Sunday for good and we start practice on Monday."

He was not ready to name a full-time starter at running back but said sophomore Ezekiel Elliott is likely to be atop the depth chart when camp begins. Senior Rod Smith, sophomores Warren Ball and Brionte Dunn all remain in the mix, and Meyer mentioned true freshman Curtis Samuel as a name that keeps popping up in discussions.

Other topics the head coach touched on:

  • Chase Farris, a junior offensive lineman who missed the second half of last season with a knee injury, is back to full health and expected to compete for a starting spot at guard or tackle. "It's time to go," Meyer said.

  • Senior receiver Devin Smith is doing fine after surviving a car accident earlier this summer. Smith suffered a concussion but has recovered.

  • Meyer called linebacker "one of our stronger groups" at this point in time as freshmen Raekwon McMillan, Kyle Berger and Dante Booker joining the mix. He said Sam Hubbard, another freshman who is listed on the newly published roster at tight end after being recruited as a five-star linebacker, could still return to linebacker at some point.

  • Dontre Wilson, a sophomore H-back, could also be in the mix as far as the running game after bulking up to 185 pounds. "He's an impact guy," Meyer said. "He's gained the weight, he's much stronger and more prepared for this level of football."

  • Cardale Jones remains Miller's backup at quarterback, a spot he claimed during spring ball while Miller was sidelined.

  • Meyer expects the Buckeyes' game at Nov. 1 to have an awesome atmosphere after having been assigned an 8 p.m. start. "I think it's big for recruiting and big for the Big Ten."

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