October 22, 2012

Meyer talks Miller, Penn State in weekly update

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Less than 48 hours removed from his team's 29-22 overtime victory against Purdue on Saturday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer met with the media for his weekly press conference. Answering questions for more than 25 minutes, Meyer touched on a number of topics, including the status of quarterback Braxton Miller and how he handles a team coming off of such a dramatic victory.

Miller time?

With Ohio State's star quarterback leaving Saturday's game at the end of the third quarter and being rushed to the hospital with an apparent head or neck injury, most of the questioning on Monday centered around the health of Miller and his status for this Saturday's game at Penn State. Meyer said that the Heisman hopeful left OSU's Lexner medical center "symptom free" and that he is scheduled to resume practicing as early as tomorrow.

"All the test results came back. I guess the term is negative, which is positive," Meyer said. "He's very sore, sore neck, and we expect him to practice tomorrow."

As for how an injury that looked so severe just two days ago will not require Miller to miss any time, Meyer offered a theory, explaining that the bump that quarterback took at the end of his 37-yard run resulted in the first time that he had ever been truly shook up playing football.

"He got like a whiplash. I had a long talk with him about it. He's just rattled. And once he settled down, he seemed to be fine," Meyer said. "He made a comment to me he's never really been hurt, never really been as far as a bruise or a contusion or a sprained ankle, but never been like that, and it kind of rattled him a little bit, like it would rattle most athletes."

Back to reality

While Saturday's victory, which included a 61-yard game-tying drive with less than a minute remaining in the game, left Ohio Stadium in a state of euphoria, the fact remains that the Buckeyes were just one missed play away from watching their undefeated season slip away to a 3-3 Purdue team. Meyer said that he was immediately concerned with correcting his team's deficiencies, but held off in order to let his team celebrate the win.

"I don't show it because I want our players to enjoy that win, our fans, the student body. It was an incredible night for the Horseshoe and the people in there," Meyer said. "Coaches are cheering and having a great time, and then deep in your heart, you know that we have a lot of work to do."

Given that many players on this year's OSU team were a part of last year's team that suffered the school's first losing season since 1988, Meyer thinks that this year's Buckeyes are much more aware of how special their current 8-0 record is.

"This team lost seven games a year ago. This team kind of was reeling for a while with all the stuff that's gone on. I think they're very appreciative," Meyer said. "The one thing is there's some smart guys here."

No longer defensive

One week ago, most questions in Meyer's weekly press conference centered around the OSU defense, and its need to improve after allowing 49 points to Indiana. That wasn't the case this week, after seven Buckeye defenders graded out with champion performances against the Boilermakers. That doesn't mean it was a complete team effort, however, as this week, it was the OSU offense that found itself absent on Meyer's champion's list.

"You can tell there's a little inconsistency right now with our team. Certain games you see an offense, I'll read out six, seven names, and on defense none, and vice versa," Meyer said. "That's just where we're at. Got to get a lot better."

The Buckeyes' defense will have its hands full again this week when it faces a Penn State team that put up 38 points against Iowa and is led by quarterback Matt McGloin, who Meyer faced in the 2011 Outback Bowl while he was still coaching at Florida.

"He's much improved. He's always been a very accurate passer," Meyer said. "The guys around him are playing better as well."

Previewing Penn State

Despite a scandal that's been deemed one of the biggest ever in college sports history, the Nittany Lions suddenly find themselves in the thick of things for the Big Ten Leaders division title. After dropping its first two games of the season to Ohio and Virginia, Penn State is in the midst of a five-game winning streak and still possesses the type of talent that Meyer would expect the program to.

"When you have a new staff, you have a couple of things happen early in the year, but this is still Penn State," Meyer said. "Make no mistake about it, Penn State was undefeated at this time last year. As a result, when you're undefeated, you've got very, very good football players. I mean, very good."

One of those players is linebacker Michael Mauti, who has become the team's undisputed vocal leader and played a major role in encouraging teammates to stay in Happy Valley after they were given the opportunity to transfer without penalty following the program's sanctions.

"His dad and brothers are Nittany Lions. I recruited him hard at Florida. Loved him as a high school athlete," Meyer said. "He's a tough guy. He's a leader. Love his family. He's and he's playing his tail off after his knee injury."

Injury update

For the third consecutive week, Meyer expects to be without linebacker Etienne Sabino, who suffered a fractured fibula in the team's win over Nebraska. Meyer, however, does expect to have his backup, Joshua Perry available, as well as wide receiver Corey Brown, who left the win over Purdue with a head injury.

"He should be ready to go," Meyer said of Brown. "They're still evaluating, but everybody tells me he's fine."

With Najee Murray out with a torn ACL and Armani Reeves still recovering from a high ankle sprain, the Buckeyes lost a third "piranha" on Saturday, when Devan Bogard tore his ACL, which will keep him out of action for the remainder of the season.

"Love him. He's one of my favorite guys on the team. Top five guy on the team, Devan Bogard. First guy to lose his stripe as a Buckeye," Meyer said. "If we could go out and recruit a hundred Bogards, life would be pretty good around here."


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