USA Today Sports
COLUMBUS, Ohio - On day's like today, football is not the first thing on many people's minds. Urban Meyer started his weekly Monday press conference with a much more serious tone, offering a helping hand to anyone affected by the events in Las Vegas.
"This morning I woke up and saw that like you all did," Meyer said to start things off. "I don't want to sound shallow, but our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. If there's anything we can do, we will. And it's a tough situation."
Sometimes things happen that put perspective on the game of football, and how the elation of a Saturday win or the pain of a Saturday loss can quickly be put aside in a matter of moments. Meyer said he would be meeting two of his players from the Las Vegas area — Haskell Garrett and Tate Martell — today.
Trying to move forward from the events in Nevada, here are a few takeaways from Meyer's presser.
Buckeye fans were in for a bit of a surprise right before the Rutgers game kicked off, as it was announced that both defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones and safety Erick Smith would be out for the game. Little explanation was given, except that Smith did not make the trip with the team, and Jones was hurt in a freak locker room incident.
Jones required stitches, and Meyer said he will miss more time than just Saturday's game.
"He's out this week," Meyer said. "We're anticipating (his return against) Nebraska."
As for Smith, the absence does not appear to be injury related. Meyer would not go into specifics, but said that Smith's playing time is not the biggest concern to Ohio State at this time.
"He's got to handle his business," Meyer said. "He won't play this week. He's got to take care of his business."
Looks like somebody found their way into Meyer's doghouse.
More to come from the running game
Ohio State had the chance to turn a few players loose against Rutgers who would normally get limited playing time, such as freshman and bench players. Regardless, both Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins put forth extremely effective games, even in a limited capacity.
Both players were named champions by Meyer, but he would have liked to see more.
"J.K. Dobbins, I think he only had six carries. We want to get him 12 to 15," Meyer said. "But things happened, and all of a sudden you look up at the scoreboard and say, get him out of the game because there was no other reason that we pulled him out other than that. The same, Mike Weber had three touchdowns but we didn't get him loose."
Maryland is arguably a much more tout opponent than Rutgers, even though they are depending on a third-string quarterback currently. There will be more chances for Ohio State to see what their running backs can do, barring any huge blowouts once again.
Meyer also noted the dual-back set might be in the near future, with both Dobbins and Weber playing at such high levels.
"(Weber)'s been cleared, and he played extended time. So we're putting together the 20 grouping or 21 grouping. And that's two backs, one tight end; two backs and no tight end," Meyer said. "So it's their best 11. I do that myself each week: Who are your best 11 players? If they're in the best 11, which right now they are, get them on the field."
That could be a nightmare for the Terrapins.
Defensive line getting more dynamic
As advertised, the Ohio State defensive line is a frightening group. Just go back and watch the handful of plays that players like Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa were pushing the Rutgers offensive line 10 yards into the backfield.
That kind of effort was made without Jones. Tracey Sprinkle also performed well along the defensive front, but he was not the only player manning the nose tackle position against the Scarlet Knights.
Holmes lined up over the center on a few plays, and appeared effective in a hybrid-nose tackle role. Meyer jabbed fun at Hubbard and Bosa, who were not put in that type of role on Saturday.
"Tyquan can do that as well. We play him there in sometimes," Meyer said. "They've got the body type. Bosa, you probably don't want to get him in there. Sam Hubbard, you wouldn't want to get in there. It's a grown man position in there. You can print this. Say Bosa and Hubbard aren't tough enough to get in there."
This quip was followed by a smile and some laughs, since Bosa and Hubbard are more than capable of being disruptive across the entire field. But, Meyer said it has a lot to do with body type and strength, which is why the bigger defensive ends in Lewis and Holmes could find their way to the middle of the defensive line more often.
It's a funny preposition, considering all the defensive ends are nearly the same size, separated by just an inch or two and about five pounds. But, after watching this season's highlights and seeing the speed of both Hubbard and Bosa of the ends, it's no wonder Meyer plans on keeping the duo there.
Respect for D.J. Durkin
Meyer has a past with Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, dating all the way back to his days with Bowling Green State. Under Meyer, Durking was a graduate assistant, who quickly rose to good standing with the Falcons.
"He was a GA that I was ready to make full time when he was 21 years old. I tried to hire him a couple of other times," Meyer said. "Then we got him at Florida. He was an impact coach. I think of all the guys I've had he's one of the top two or three I've ever had on our staff."
Durkin is 9-8 in his short time with Maryland, and pulled off an improbable win over Texas earlier this year. Meyer will show his former assistant and the Terrapins a massive amount of respect, due to both the conference schedule and the ability of Durkin to get the most out of his team.
Meyer reiterated on multiple occasions how Maryland is a well-coached and dynamic team, so don't expect any kind of differing approach from last Saturday's game.