After starting slow in each of its first two games of the season, Ohio State has finally gotten back to the fast starts that defined its season last fall. The Buckeyes are outscoring opponents 58-10 in the first quarter over the last three games after compiling a 14-10 deficit in the first two contests.
“I talked to our team today about it,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “I don’t normally say good things about our staff because they’re expected to do the right thing, but for whatever reason in the last three games, they’ve jumped out early. Coming out of the locker room ready to play sets the tempo for the rest of the game.
“We started getting that reputation last year, and obviously early this year we didn’t have it in the first few games. That’s going to be a huge emphasis again this week.”
Other updates from Meyer’s post-practice press conference are as follows:
- Meyer didn’t bite on the suggestion that Rutgers’ struggles running the ball could lead to a big day for the Ohio State defensive line against Scarlet Knights quarterback Gary Nova. The OSU head coach cited Nova’s recent performance against Michigan, against whom he threw three touchdowns in a 26-24 win. “The quarterback had a hell of a day against our rivals. We’ve got our hands full.”
- When asked about Rutgers’ success in pass rush, Meyer noted that a blitz the Scarlet Knights use results in them having one more player than the opponent has blockers. “We’ve worked extremely hard on that. That’s where they get a lot of their pressures.”
- Meyer said Rutgers joining the Big Ten has helped the Scarlet Knights recruit on the East Coast.
- The offensive line is playing much better than they did at the beginning of the season, Meyer noted.
- The biggest difference between redshirt freshman cornerback Eli Apple now compared to the start of the season, Meyer said, is that he no longer has the wide eyes of a player seeing the field for the first time. Meyer added that redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was the same way at the start of this season.
- Although Apple came from New Jersey, Meyer said that he was never a threat to go to Rutgers (or any other school). “He’s a Buckeye. Taver Johnson was recruiting him and he had his hand up. He wanted to be a Buckeye from way back.”
- In explaining his kickoff strategy, Meyer said he’s done it that way for 13 years but squeezed the desired landing spot even more over time. They put six players in the boundary and let guys like Conley, Samuel, Reeves and Elliott get after the ball. “We only cover one-third of the field on a good kick.”
- The chance of a ball being kicked out of bounds is a risk the staff is willing to take. They don’t want touchbacks, either. Meyer said the return team is confident, which is why they let opponents return kicks instead of booting it out of the end zone.
- Freshman running back Curtis Samuel (thigh bruise) has been cleared to play against Rutgers.