COLUMBUS, Ohio- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has not been shy about how he feels about the Maryland football program his team will be facing on Saturday.
"They went down to Austin, Texas and beat Texas, a good Texas team, a talented Texas team," Meyer said. "Then, they went up, with the third-string quarterback, and beat one of the top defenses in the country in Minnesota. So, very good."
Last week, the Terrapins had 409 yards of total offense, while limiting the Golden Gophers to 309 yards. Minnesota quarterback Connor Rhoda struggled against Maryland, completing only 50 percent of his passes for 229 yards with two interceptions.
However, the Terrapins do not have the total. pass defense numbers you would expect from a game like that. Maryland is ranked No. 11 in the Big Ten, giving up an average of 248 yards passing per game.
Meyer feels as though those numbers may be misleading, especially after the Terrapins first win of the season.
"We realize that that game against Texas was a high-scoring kind of shoot-out type of game and the other ones have not," Meyer said. "We really don’t worry about stats. We just worry about personnel and how we are dong against the certain looks they give us."
Giving up 375 yards passing to the Longhorn offense, the Terrapins have not given up over 250 yards since then, allowing only six passing touchdowns this season.
According to Meyer, he was not surprised by the success of Maryland this season. He referenced that their area is very rich in terms of recruiting. Also, once the Terrapins hired former Meyer assistant D.J. Durkin to be the head coach, Meyer knew that the program was going placed.
Meyer feels that, with that combination, Maryland may become another powerhouse in the Big Ten East sooner rather than later.
"I remember when they hired D.J.," Meyer said. "I thought dad-gum it, I wish he had gone somewhere else because we don’t need another one in this side of the conference and I think we got one."
Big compliments to the wide receiving room
To say that Meyer has been impressed with his wide receivers over the past three weeks may be considered an understatement. In the past three games, receivers have averaged 377.3 yards per game while bringing in 11 of 13 passing touchdowns against Army West Point, UNLV and Rutgers combined.
With the numbers that the receivers have put up, Meyer has been very impressed with how the room has grown from the beginning of the season until now.
"Where are they talent wise, are they all NFL players, I kind of think they are," Meyer said. "I don’t know when, but I think every one of those six players are going to play in the National Football League and they have to continue to get better."
The Buckeyes will be facing a Maryland secondary this weekend that, against a Minnesota team focused on running the ball, recorded 229 yards receiving on only 13 catches, bringing in one touchdown catch.
However, the amount of talent was not the main thing that Meyer was focused on when talking about his wide receivers.
"They are the most selfless group maybe ever," Meyer said. "I don’t know if we have had a stronger culture in the room than those Zone-6 guys in there. They are fun to watch."
Meyer also described the group as a whole as "grinders" that they are "non-complainers" on the football field.
Dre'Mont Jones' return is on schedule
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One of the main storylines heading into the Maryland game this week is the status of defensive tackle Dre'mont Jones. Early last week, Jones suffered what Meyer referred to as a "freak injury," cutting his leg on a locker that ended up requiring stitches.
Meyer said that Jones is on schedule in terms of coming back into the rotation against Nebraska on October 14th.
"He is good," Meyer said. "He has the brace off and he is walking around. He says it is pain free and we anticipate his return next week."
Jones currently had three tackles for loss this season with a pass deflection and a blocked kick.
Bill Davis and his culture shock
At the beginning of the season, Meyer was not very impressed with the work that new coach Bill Davis had done with the linebackers.
"I thought very average early in the season," Meyer said. "Just the unit was average, the energy was average."
Taking the linebackers coach job after being the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2013-2015, Davis had a bit of a difficult transition moving from the pro level to college according to Meyer.
"It was a bit of a culture shock," Meyer said. "This is closer to a high school program than a pro program. We are in the development. We are getting 17, 18-year-olds that need to be developed with energy."
Meyer said that the difference in approach from the college level to the pros is the main reason why he does not hire career NFL coaches to his staff very often.
"That’s really why I don’t go in that direction very often, life-long NFL coach," Meyer said. "I have more high school coaches I have hired than NFL coaches just because we are checking classes, we are finding out who they are dating, we are finding out if potato chips are on their plate."
However, according to Meyer, he has seen Davis improve over the last couple of weeks with the increased production from the linebackers on defense as well as in special teams.
" [Davis] started slow, but the last couple of weeks were outstanding," Meyer said.