Meyer Answers Questions about Special Teams
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Like his predecessor at Ohio State – more Jim Tressel than Luke Fickell – Urban Meyer has place a high level of importance on special teams since he became the head coach in Columbus.
He has a nickname for his punt block team and called his kick coverage squad his favorite group on the roster right now – outside of maybe Braxton Miller and John Simon.
That didn’t prevent the Buckeyes from having a number of breakdowns in their special teams this past weekend against UAB. Meyer’s team was flagged for running into the kicker, they also allowed the Blazers to recover an onside kick to open the second half, and let’s not forget the blocked punt that give UAB it’s first and only touchdown of the day.
Meyer answered some questions about his special teams on Monday during his weekly press luncheon in Columbus.
Q. Can you take us through the punt block?
MEYER: It was a missed assignment. You're supposed to block two. If you don't block two, something bad happens. And because of injuries, we had a lot of young players, that was his first rep in the game rep. So we did not do a good job preparing him.
But, no, it wasn't like an overload or something like that. The guy is supposed to block him. He didn't block him. So that was a bad start. The way that game started, we called a deep shot to Devin Smith to start the game. We missed a block and he was behind him by about 15 yards. And we got pressure. And then two plays later we drug out the punt team, I think 7-0, they missed a field goal or something. So not the way you'd like to start that kind of game.
Q. Was there an adjustment that needed to be made or missed and collectively the special teams on Saturday, given how involved you are, your thoughts on that?
The kickoff, pooch kickoff, landed a couple of yards behind our tackle. Stand there and catch it. And gotta put on the tip sheet: Catch the ball if it's kicked to you.
In all seriousness, that's a major error. And we just gotta cover it. We have to do a better job getting that ready. What was the other one? Kickoff out to the 20 yard line, ran into a punter. It was a bad day for special teams. Have to get it fixed.
We're playing six or seven true freshmen starting off kickoff right now. It's probably too many. I'm going to readjust that and take a look at it. Just trying to get some of the young guys in the game a little bit.
Q. Garrick McGee said that they planned on going after the first punt, that they were going to block it and score a touchdown. Did he see something in the scheme?
MEYER: No, he changed the scheme. Block that guy, and he didn't block that guy. He said that, huh?
Q. Block and score a touchdown.
MEYER: Keep moving. They did a very nice job.
Q. Just given the issues that the special teams had with a couple of plays on Saturday, what would you say the progress of that unit is in comparisons to what your expectations were coming into the season?
MEYER: Very good question. Expectation level, like the other two phases, are not where we need to be. However, it's not because of like the scheme issue. It's because of maybe immaturity that we're forced or I was playing some young players that weren't first time in a game and here it is. We locked up. So the concern is there. However, they try hard and the coaching and the emphasis will be there and we'll get better.
Q. Had a couple of periods of tackling and trying to shore it up in practice. Do you think that had any positive impact and would you do it again this week?
MEYER: Sure, we're going to do it again this week. It was not a finished product by all means but it was much better than it was the week before. The aggressiveness of our back end of our defense right now is a little bit of a concern. And that's being discussed. And we have some thoughts on that for this week because you have to.
You know, you face those, the teams that go sideline that dink and dunk, it's a whole different process than when it's this.
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