Maryland improved but Ohio State is better


COLUMBUS – Urban Meyer said he was serious. And the look in his eyes confirmed he wasn’t kidding.

When Meyer was asked earlier this week if there had been an investigation of how starting defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones had suffered a cut one teammate described as “a wound” when his arm made contact with his locker, he said, “We did a full investigation. I’m serious – why was it ripped on a locker and everything.”

A few minutes later, talking about the adjustment former NFL assistants like Ohio State’s Bill Davis have to make when they take a college job, Meyer gave some examples of how thoroughly his staff monitors players’ activities, though one of them probably was not entirely serious.

“We’re checking on their classes, we’re finding out who they’re dating, how many potato chips there are on their plates and all that kind of stuff,” Meyer said.

It’s even possible the potato chip count is real, not a joke. There was a legendary high school coach who reportedly didn’t want his players to put ketchup on their food because of the high level of salt in it.

Listening to Meyer’s list of things his staff wants to know, two things come to mind.

No. 1, if parents of non-athletes who go to Ohio State could get a report that comprehensive about their sons and daughters’ comings and goings and friends, they would probably sign up for it tomorrow.

No. 2, there really might be no detail that gets overlooked in elite college football programs like Ohio State.

Some people enjoy the details, others don’t. Some people balance their checkbooks down to the penny every month. Other people say, “Within $20? Close enough.”

But that’s not what’s at work here. More likely, it’s all about making sure absolutely nothing has been overlooked because any loss hurts, but even more so at the level of an Ohio State or an Alabama.

As Lou Holtz told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2014, “When you win at their level (Ohio State and Alabama), it’s a relief and you can’t even enjoy it. Losing is an absolute disaster.”

No. 10 Ohio State (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) is coming off a stretch of three games where a loss would have been an absolute disaster times 10.

OSU was expected to dominate Army, UNLV and Rutgers and it did by 31 points, 33 points and 56 points.

Some people look at those wins and deem them meaningless because Ohio State was supposed to win and win big.

But that opinion overlooks the obvious. There is no substitute for game experience. And that experience gave Ohio State’s receivers, tight ends, defensive backs and offensive line a chance to become better than they were the first two games of the season in a win at Indiana and a loss to Oklahoma.

The expectation is that OSU will have to be better this week against Maryland (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) in a Homecoming game at Ohio Stadium.

The Terrapins shocked Texas 51-41 in their season opener and knocked Minnesota from the ranks of the unbeaten last Saturday. They have a pretty solid running game and D.J. Moore is the leading receiver in the Big Ten with 30 catches in four games.

However, they also allow 30 points a game and their top two quarterbacks have been lost for the season because of ACL injuries.

Ohio State still has issues to address but it appears to have made some progress, regardless of the level of competition the last three weeks.

With D.J. Durkin in charge of Maryland’s football program, it could challenge Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in the Big Ten’s East Division someday.

But not this year. It’s too soon.

The prediction: Ohio State 38, Maryland 17.

By Jim Naveau

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Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

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