COLUMBUS, Ohio- The Ohio State offensive line took a major hit Saturday when it lost right guard Branden Bowen to a season-ending leg injury. Winning the job out of Fall Camp, Bowen was converted from tackle to guard and was praised by the coaching staff for his work ethic.
Now with Bowen out, the Ohio State coaching staff is back to the drawing board at how will take over in that spot. However, coach Urban Meyer seems to have an idea of who he wants on the line.
“I kind of know,” Meyer said. “We won’t announce it yet though.”
There is one thing that it is not though. Meyer was asked if he was tempted to move center Billy Price back to his original position of right guard with the injury. Meyer said that he was considering the move because of the emergence of redshirt junior center Brady Taylor.
“Brady Taylor is starting to make a move right now, so there has been conversation about it,” Meyer said.
However, Meyer reiterated that Price would stay at center for the time being.
No matter who it is at the right guard position against Nebraska, whether it is Malcolm Pridgeon, Matthew Burrell or Demetrius Knox, Meyer said that he needs a consistent presence on the line and not one to be considered as the weak link.
“Our depth has been awful,” Meyer said. “It has gone from the best offensive line in the Big Ten, I think the country, to I think our starting five are pretty good to for rhyme or reasons it’s not what it should be. A guy’s got to step up, whoever it is, and he’s got to play.”
Preparing for Lincoln, Nebraska
It has been awhile since Ohio State has played a road game against Nebraska. The Buckeyes played against the Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium was in 2011, losing 34-27 and falling to 3-3 on the season.
Meyer mentioned that he knows what that stadium will be like Saturday night, noting that he has great respect for the school and the coaching staff.
“We are getting ready for a very good team that plays a unique style of defense and if this quarterback catches fire, he is a very accurate passer,” Meyer said.
On the offensive side of the ball, Meyer said that Nebraska runs the ball very well and that they thrive on what he calls the “short stuff.” On the defensive side of the ball, he said it reminds him of an NFL-type scheme.
“It’s a type of defense that you are going to have to work for everything,” Meyer said. “You are not going to have many shots downfield on the way they play. They are very sound in what they do. Their secondary, they keep everything in front of them.”
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Earlier in the week, Meyer canceled his usual Monday press conference because he traveled to visit wide receiver Trevon Grimes, who is taking a leave of absence from the football program because of familial health issues.
“He is dealing with family health issues,” Meyer said. “I saw him, he is doing great.”
Meyer also said that out of respect for the family, there would be no further comment on the situation. However, he did confirm that Grimes was still on the team, but his time away is indefinite.
The Nebraska game will see the return of defensive tackle Michael Hill, who had been suspended for the first six games of the 2017 season.
“I haven’t really said much about him, but he has really handled himself right recently,” Meyer said.
Along with Hill, Meyer said that defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones will play after suffering from a leg injury in the Ohio State locker room that has kept him off the field for the last two weeks. Meyer said that Hill and Jones will be a huge help against “pro-style” offenses that are running off the ball.
Wear them out
When it comes to a young player, it is up to the coach how much he will use the player in his first season. When it comes to Meyer and freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, it’s simple.
“I want to wear him out,” Meyer said.
Already with 88 carries on the season, Meyer is not worried about the amount of work he has already put in this season. He referenced the way that Dobbins practices as a factor in why he has that amount of trust in the young back.
However, the amount of work is not the main concern when it comes to Dobbins against Nebraska.
“He has to take care of the darn ball,” Meyer said. “He laid one on the ground Saturday, but no, him and Mike (Weber), I’m anxious to wear them both out.”