Urban Meyer: Buckeyes “Pushing Forward” in Wake of Suspensions

The majority of the buzz around this year’s Big Ten media days was always going to be centered around when it was Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s turn to come to the podium. After all, the Buckeyes finished the 2014 season as national champions and are widely expected to have a legitimate chance at repeating.

Then came news that four players, including 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Joey Bosa, were handed down a one-game suspension for violations of athletic department policy. H-backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson, along with wide receiver Corey Smith, were the other three players. Suddenly, the level of anticipation surrounding his comments to the media became that much more pronounced.

Meyer expressed his support of the suspension and emphasized the importance of moving on and getting ready for the season opener.

“I think the department has policies that we expect and I 100 percent am fully supportive of it. Whether it’s a sprained ankle or stuff, you try to create a culture where teams know how to move forward and not concern yourself,” Meyer said. “When we lost Braxton 10 days before the first game (of 2014), you lose JT a week before the Big Ten Championship game, you push forward. You know, we’re pushing forward.”

Bosa’s absence will certainly be felt when the Buckeyes travel to Blacksburg, VA on September 7th to take on Virginia Tech.  It will be a rematch of last year’s 35-21 upset for the Hokies that turned out to be OSU’s only blemish on the year. The soon-to-be junior led the Big Ten in 2014 with 21 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He also forced five turnovers which his offense were able to convert into 37 points.

Meyer pulled no punches when asked about the impact of not having Bosa for the opening game of 2015 which will incidentally be played on a Monday night.

“Probably off the get-go would be arguably (the fact that) one of the best defensive players in the United States of America (in Bosa) won’t play in that game. So that’s the one,” Meyer noted.

The two H-backs, Marshall and Wilson, will also be out for the game. That gives Braxton Miller a huge opportunity to get some immediate experience at the position. Miller announced he was moving from quarterback into more of a wide receiver/hybrid back role in an interview with Sports Illustrated last week.

Meyer had nothing but good things to say about Miller’s maturity, leadership and ability to embrace this new challenge. He also emphasized his intelligence and versatility in being potential key factors for success.

“For the average guy…I’d say (it) would be very uncommon to be (ready to make that transition) at least right out the gate. He’s not common, though,” Meyer said in discussing Miller. “He’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. He’s got an incredible first step. Above all else, you say it’s time to win or lose time, and he’s not going to lose.”

One of the things that should help the Buckeyes at H-back is the fact there is so much depth at the position, the result of Meyer’s recruiting efforts. Two players, true sophomores Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown, come to mind. Samuel was particularly productive his freshman year, finishing with 724 all-purpose yards and six rushing touchdowns.

Entering his fourth year at the helm of the Buckeye program, Meyer is well-aware that being deep at such a multi-faceted position within the offense is a big part of this team’s success within the conference and nationally.

“That position is a critical, critical spot,” Meyer emphasized. “And we recruit every year with that mentality to make sure that you have several at that spot because that is a premiere, premiere spot. So I feel very confident that, if we stay healthy game one, that will be a productive position for us.”

Though these suspensions are a speed bump, all indications are that the team’s trajectory is heading in the right direction heading into preseason camp.

“…the indicators other than (these suspensions) has been not good, it’s been great,” Meyer said. “But tomorrow is another day. And we just keep pushing forward.”

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