COLUMBUS, Ohio- With No. 11 Ohio State traveling to New Brunswick, New Jersey to take on Rutgers on Saturday night, coach Urban Meyer is facing another one of his old assistants. Scarlet Knights coach Chris Ash was the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach for the Buckeyes in 2014 and 2015.
Ash left the Buckeye State, agreeing to a five-year, $11 million dollar deal to become the head coach at Rutgers in December of 2015. In his first season in 2016, the Scarlet Knights continued their struggles, finishing 2-10 with no wins in conference play.
When asked about Ash in his Wednesday press conference, Meyer said that all social exchanges happen after the season. For the game coming up this weekend, he is more worried about the play calling on the field.
“It’s more about the does he know what certain calls are at the line of scrimmage,” Meyer said. “I’m a bit concerned about the special teams because he is a very good special teams coach and I have a great returner. That’s what I spend my time worrying about, not the other stuff.”
Meyer has a member of his coaching staff that is familiar with the personnel at Rutgers as well. Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was the head coach of the Scalret Knights from 2001-2011, finished with a 68-67 record.
Especially after the 2006 season where No. 12 Rutgers finished 11-2 with a win over Kansas State in the Texas Bowl, Meyer was very impressed with what Schiano did with that football program.
“I would go visit him and I saw what he built there and the school spirit was incredible,” Meyer said. “Whenever you see the Empire State Building lit in Scarlet as they had a great year.”
Facing a team with connections to Ohio State’s head coach on both sides, Meyer was asked if he would relish the opportunity to coach in this game. He answered very bluntly.
“Relish? I don’t relish much.”
In the news
One of the main storylines in the college sports world on Wednesday had nothing to do with football.
The FBI implicated 10 people, including assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State and USC, after an investigation going into bribery and corruption in college basketball. This led to the Cardinals announcing that head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich have been placed on administrative lead.
When asked about it in his press conference, Meyer have props to the NCAA for this investigation.
“I think that a cleansing is good and everybody, including myself, I get so angry and upset with the NCAA, but the NCAA has their hands tied behind their back,” Meyer said. “I don’t know enough about it, but I think that anytime that there is teeth put into regulation and teeth put into making sure people are following the rules, I’ve always been a big, huge, tremendous fan of that.”
Highly touted recruits get their shot
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Many highly touted recruits from the class of 2017 have had the opportunity to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball so far in the 2017 season.
On the defensive line, despite being behind four starters, defensive end Chase Young has impressed many on the Buckeye sideline, including coach Meyer.
“He is not far behind. He’s going to get some playing time,” Meyer said. “He goes to class, takes care of his business and he’s going to be a fine player here.”
Young recorded a career high four tackles against UNLV last Saturday, with two solo tackles.
Cornerback Jeffery Okudah is a bit of a different story for Meyer.
“You just wish he would be in the rotation yesterday and he is not there yet,” Meyer said.
He has not received much played time; recording one tackle in each of the last two games for the Buckeyes against the Rebels and Army West Point. However, Meyer is sure that Okudah will come along.
“I know he is very talented and I know his want to is fantastic,” Meyer said. “Buy stock in him, he’s going to be a very good player here.”
Meyer wants fewer targets in passing game
One of the main reasons behind the offensive success in the past couple of game has been due to the increased success of the passing game.
Meyer talked about how, with a six-man rotation at receiver now, he may want to cut that down to a couple of key targets for quarterback J.T. Barrett to focus on.
“I kind of hope eventually that happens,” Meyer said. “Right now, that is one of the stronger units on our team.”
With that, he also praised the blocking ability of the receivers, saying that they were doing a fantastic job blocking on the edges.
One of the other player Meyer said that he would like to get going in the passing game is tight end Marcus Baugh. With only six catches for 69 yards in the 2017 season, Meyer feels as though Baugh has not yet reached his full potential in the passing game.
“He’s never achieved what he could be,” Meyer said. “I’m seeing signs of a guy and we have had that happen here, when a guy reaches his ability level. He is getting very close now. I would like to get him more and more involved. There is almost on-purpose trying to find ways to get him the ball now.”