Meyer Answers Questions about Braxton, Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer faced a lot of questions about his defense after Ohio State’s 31-16 win over UCF, but the offense was main topic of conversation on Monday during Meyer’s weekly media luncheon.
Quarterback Braxton Miller ran the ball 27 times for over 140 yards against Central Florida, but the injury to Carlos Hyde creates a bit of a quandary for Meyer and his coaches heading into the week three matchup with Cal.
Q. In spite of the uncertainty at running back what do you do?
MEYER: Get ready to go. Rod Smith has been around – talent is not an issue at running back at Ohio State. Just have to coach them better and get them ready to go.
Q. How ready is Bri'onte Dunn for this stage? Is it a situation where he has to play?
MEYER: No, he doesn't have to play. He's going to have a very good Tuesday and Wednesday where he won't play. That's the only way I'm gaming it.
It's one thing getting your mind right to go to be a backup for third string tailback for a game. It's another thing getting your mind right to be the guy that's going to jog out there with the first offense. There's no just go play. He's got Tuesday, and Wednesday is going to be very critical whoever has the best Tuesday and Wednesday is going to line up at tailback.
Q. Is there something about him that gives you pause to put him out there as a full time power running back? What would you need to keep from turning to him?
MEYER: If someone is better than him. I've said that since spring. I think he's got good feet. I think he'll pound you. I don't know how many times he's carried the ball but he's been fairly productive. Just have a good week at practice.
Q. Can you talk about Braxton's mechanics, how is he coming along in that respect, upper and lower body mechanism?
MEYER: He gets good – really, really good – and then he does something, what was that? But it's the normal maturation of a quarterback. He knows it. He sees it. Everybody can see it. We kind of did a play action pass; boom, he threw it into the ground. He's got great release. He's got great release, good arm strength.
So we are just trying to push that maturation as fast as we can. And other times, he's just beautiful in the pockets. It's back there, nice, and pops the ball out there. We have a lot of quick release stuff. We don't hold the ball very long for a lot of reasons. But he's really very good at what we do. We just have to probably do more of it.
Q. Three or four times, you had broken plays during the course of the game on offense. Was there a theme? Did the running back take a wrong step, the quarterback turn the wrong way? Braxton turned a negative into a positive a couple of times but not what you want.
MEYER: We had a lineman go the wrong way. There's one I think you guys know me well enough, I would tell you. I'm not trying to save someone's feelings. Just going to tell you and be as honest as we can. There was a multitude of reasons.
Yes, the running back went the wrong way; glaring. It was a potentially big hit. We had the offensive lineman go the wrong way. We had a quarterback I don't think Braxton went the wrong way, but we had some glaring errors that occurred that didn't occur, didn't surface the first game. One time we got a misalignment on receiving, and he's running across and all kinds of nonsense going on. So it was not a very clean game for whatever reason.
Q. Is it the up tempo nature of it?
MEYER: If there was one thing, it would be fixed tomorrow. You're down here, a tailback, why did he go the wrong way? He has actually not had a lot of reps at that in practice, and he's probably locked up a little bit because he's not played in that many key situations like that. How does the receiver line up the wrong way you know, those are all things we are addressing, and it was a tough meeting with our coaches, too. I expect more.
Q. Again with the game plan, the number of carries for Braxton, as you sit down and talk about that this week, how do you think he'll approach that?
MEYER: I think part of it, we have to some of the carries are a result of errors at other positions. For example, someone goes wrong way, what does he do, he runs for seven yards and gets whacked. One guy, we have a design play and we miss two blocks, and instead of pitching a ball, he gets whacked.
So that position is going to have to do a lot of things. We have to play better around him to eliminate some of those carries. And hopefully once again, the job description is to win that game; and also player safety and being smart is a big part of that.
So he's just my, gosh, is he a good runner and we all see that. So we just have to be a little smarter. We are not saying, okay, we are running the ball 27 times. You block him, you block him, you block him; Brax's not going to run that. He's going to throw it or hand it off. So we just have to play better around him. It's not 27 runs, if that makes sense. It's not 27, here, Braxton, run.
Q. With Braxton, you said he was blown out a little bit after last game; do you worry about his durability or the mental mistakes you make when you do run the ball that much?
MEYER: I do. I don't just worry, that's true. An athlete that gets fatigued often, you give in a little bit in certain areas. We have to have enough plays where he can hand the ball off a little bit and compose himself, and those are conversations but when you hand it off, you have to hand it off to someone and you have to throw it to someone. The good thing is we are improving in a lot of areas, so we just have got to do that.
Q. Is it tough in the heat of battle, because you do want to win the game, and he is the best guy to carry the ball; is it a little tougher when it gets to that point?
MEYER: That's what we do. That's what we get every morning and try to do, win that damn game, but take care of your guys. He is a hell of a football player now. If you really studied the game with the copies we have, he delivers punishment; he goes hard. He's a hell of a football player. I mean, I think a hell of a football player. Better than even everybody in this country thinks right now. That's how good I think Braxton Miller is.
But we have got to be, you know, we have got to be smart, and he got tattooed a little bit. But we've all got to take care of him. That's kind of the message I'm giving in the team meeting to the offense here tomorrow, take care of him. Now, he's made some mistakes, too, now, but great problem to have. Hell of a football player behind center. It's a good problem to have.
Q. Curious about the offensive line after the game, short yard situations, trying to get them off the ball; in tape study, is it individual issues or maybe scheme things that they are seeing from a defense?
MEYER: On the two short yardages that we missed, it was not scheme. It was error. It was personnel error by an offense by really one or two guys that should not make those errors again, but it was not like they overloaded a scheme or something, and that will happen.
I have to be smart, and that's why we changed we ran the off tackle power to our right side the two times we didn't get it. We ran inside zone the one we did hit it.
So I think we are also adapting, and we are going to do what we can do to get them behind the best players as well.
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