Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Urban Meyer plays defense, talks offense
By Adam Rittenberg
Urban Meyer discussed both his past and Ohio State's future on the Big Ten Leaders division teleconference Wednesday.
The first topic has gained a lot of traction this week after a Sporting News story about the end of his tenure at Florida. The story alleges that Meyer left the Gators program in shambles, created a culture of enabling and gave far too much freedom to players like former star receiver Percy Harvin. Although there was a Big Ten nugget in the piece by Matt Hayes -- relating to the post-signing day flap between Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Meyer -- the story focused on Meyer's time in Gainesville.
Meyer responded Wednesday.
"My family and I love Florida, we still do, we always will," he said. "I'm not sure where a three-month [Sporting News] investigation shows up. I'm extremely proud of what our players and coaches accomplished."
Meyer acknowledged that he did give preferential treatment to certain players who performed well both on and off the field. He took a similar approach at both Utah and Bowling Green, and will do the same at Ohio State.
"If you go to class, you're a warrior, you do things the right way on and off the field and you're completely committed to helping us win, you're going to get treated really good," Meyer said. "You're going to get nice gear, you're going to get to move off campus.
"Guys that don't go that hard and aren't committed, it's real difficult. You can't please everyone."
Meyer said several times that he didn't understand the intent of the accusations -- throwing good players "under the bus" -- or the timing. But he went out of his way to make one thing clear.
"If you would bold that for me, underline it: There is no NCAA violation," he said. "There was not one turned in."
Meyer did talk a bit about his current team and its progress in learning a new offense. He sounds pleased with quarterback Braxton Miller's intangibles, but like many others, Miller has a way to go in absorbing the system.
Meyer said the Buckeyes showed promise in the perimeter run game during Monday's practice but lag behind in the passing attack. It's no secret Ohio State needs more help at the skill spots, areas Meyer has talked about a lot since his arrival in Columbus.
He identified tight end Jake Stoneburner and running back Jordan Hall as two players who have looked good this spring.
"Those are our two playmakers now on offense," he said, "but that's obviously not near enough."
Fullback Zach Boren also weighed in on the new offense in C-Bus.
"Last year, it was much more of an I-formation, kind of a pro-style thing," Boren said. "This year, it's all about spreading the field and making vertical plays, getting the ball up and down the field with speed. … It's guys on the outside playing more in space. We're not going to line up with the fullback and tight end in the box."