Meyer Expects More from Buckeyes Against Cal
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State is 2-0 and coming off a 15-point victory against a quality opponent over the weekend – at least in the eyes of most.
They are favored by two touchdowns again this week as the Cal Golden Bears visit Columbus for a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup. Urban Meyer is hoping his team will look a lot better with two games under its belt.
“It was a good win for us,” Meyer said Monday during his weekly press luncheon in Columbus.
“We have to fix, obviously, a lot of things. Our plan to win, we did not play great defense, we did not want turnovers. Red zone, we were three for four with three touchdowns, but still not where we need to be.”
Meyer said he was happy with what he saw from the kicking game, other than the 15-yard penalty against Jamie Wood, but he can’t remember a time in his coaching tenure where it had such little impact on the outcome of a game.
One thing that did have an impact on the outcome of the game was the injury suffered by tailback Carlos Hyde. The junior out of Naples, Fla. was having another good game inside the tackles when suffered a knee injury in the first half against UCF.
He did not return to the game, and is not expected to be available against Cal this weekend, but that doesn’t mean the news was all bad for the Buckeyes.
“It's an MCL sprain,” Meyer said Monday.
“It actually did not swell, which I guess I know things, because I've dealt with so many MCLs. He's a tough guy, so I think it's fairly positive – as much as you can be – for a serious MCL sprain. He won't play this week.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum was defensive end Michael Bennett, who has yet to play a down for the Buckeyes this season. He was supposed to be ready for the opener, but re-injured his groin during warmups before the Miami (Ohio) game.
Now it looks like he could miss even more time following an MRI on his injured groin.
“There was some damage there, so it's going to be a couple more weeks,” Meyer said.
“I don't believe he'll be ready for this week.”
Meyer also wasn’t sure about the status of senior defensive end Nathan Williams, who was held out of the game against UCF after playing around 30 snaps in the opener. It was Williams’ first action since suffering a knee injury early last season that eventually led to microfracture surgery.
“It’s the first time I've dealt with this type of injury,” Meyer said.
“I don't know Nate as well as the guys that have been around here a long time. The one thing is he loves football, loves Ohio State. So it's just a tough injury. From everything I hear, he's actually on schedule, so it just takes time. I'm hoping we have him for this week but I can’t say for sure. It’s going to be, I think, the same for the next ten weeks.”
With Bennett out and Williams’ status uncertain throughout the week, Meyer met with his assistant coaches early Monday morning to talk about the lack of a pass rush through the first two games of the year.
“We do, a lot of times, a drop eight, which means there's only three pass rushers,” Meyer said.
“And teams made a decision when they drop back to pass on quick game, they are getting guys out. On a non quick game, they are max protecting, which is not usual.
“So teams are doing a good job of defending us and defending our best pass rusher (John Simon). I think Nate Williams would help on the other side. Right now we are counting on a true freshman to be on the other side of Simon.”
Meyer said both Simon and Johnathan Hankins graded out with ‘championship performance’ against UCF, despite the lack of a noticeable pass-rush from Ohio State’s defensive front.
“John Simon, although they were doing some things to kind of take him out of the game, he was a champion,” Meyer said.
“John Hankins also played very well, very disruptive in there. We actually started him in there at defensive end; because of the size of the tight end, we thought there would be more power than the week before. They changed their entire game plan from the week before, and that's the reason we started Tommy Schutt inside and John Hankins on the defensive end.
“He was also defensive player of the game, so obviously, not what we were looking for on defense as far as champion efforts.”
The Cal Bears are 1-1 this season, with a 31-24 loss to Nevada in the opener followed by a 50-31 win over Southern Utah this past week. They are coming off a 5-7 season in 2010 and a 7-6 season a year ago, but Meyer knows Jeff Tedford’s team has enough talent to come in and pull the upset.
“What do you call birddog, my scout, ‘Coach Coop.’ He came in, and seven is a high rating, high first round. They got some six and fives, which means they are very draftable players.
“Their corner (Marc Anthony), is a projected high guy. Their defensive tackle (Aaron Tipoti) is projected fairly high in the NFL Draft. That's what we are doing right now but yes to answer your question, Coop does do that, and you'll see some Cal Bears going to the draft next year.”
The Bears also have a dangerous combination on offense, with quarterback Zach Maynard and wide receiver Keenan Allen.
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