COLUMBUS – Penalties have added up to a lot of yards for Ohio State lately, but do they add another worry line on Urban Meyer’s forehead?
In its last three games, OSU has been called for 10 penalties, 10 penalties and nine penalties. It ranks 118th nationally in penalties per game and 119th in penalty yards per game.
“It’s always a concern. I’m not one of those guys that goes crazy on penalties, especially when you’re playing aggressive. But that’s far too many,” Meyer said on the Big Ten football coaches teleconference on Tuesday.
“That’s something we’ve addressed constantly and constantly. The ones you can’t have are in the kicking game. That’s when we lose our mind because those are the most devastating penalties there are. We’ve had some of those,” he said.
Getting more out of Ohio State’s running game and improving its pass defense are probably bigger priorities this week.
“We’ve talked about everything,” Meyer said possible fixes for the running game. “The issue is that everyone is packed in there on us (defensively) so somehow we have to get out of that. We can try to throw the ball more, we can try to get on the edge like we did against Penn State when J.K. (Dobbins) scored as opposed to slamming it up in there all the time. Those are all things we’re talking about.”
Defensively, Ohio State’s defensive backs have taken a lot of heat lately. But Meyer says OSU also needs to get more from its pass rush and that could help the defensive backs.
“Chase Young has been really good. Jonathon Cooper has been really good. Dre’Mont Jones, we need a little bit more. Obviously, when you lose a guy like Nick Bosa that’s going to be a tremendous hit. The other guys have worked really hard. It’s not what we expect but it’s getting close,” Meyer said.
“Fifty percent of pass defense is pass rush and the other half is coverage. I think we’ve got to get better at both,” he said.
For the second time in two days, Meyer said he does see the kind of depth Ohio State’s opponents talk about it having. Specifically, he would like to see more depth on the offensive line.
Fifth-year senior offensive lineman Brady Taylor, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee earlier this season, could return by the end of the month.
“It’s just the quality of the depth right now. I don’t know what the future holds but right now Wyatt Davis is really coming on and he’s next in. Nick Petit-Frere is really coming on. Josh Alabi has come on and Josh Myers has. We just need a little bit more depth in there,” Meyer said.
Meyer likes what he has seen from Pete Werner in his first year of starting at linebacker. “He’s an elite player, an elite person. He’s very gifted, a very talented guy. Big, fast, extremely smart. He has an incredible future,” he said.
Meyer said there was no update on freshman running back Brian Snead, who has not dressed for OSU’s last four games for what has been called a disciplinary issue.