COLUMBUS – Urban Meyer’s answer to the first question in his weekly press conference on Monday could have applied to Ohio State’s football season as a whole as well as to the question that was asked.
When asked if Nick Bosa will play again this season, Meyer said, “I’m hoping.” When there was a follow-up question wondering if he was optimistic OSU’s best defensive player would get on the field, he said, “Hoping.”
Seven games into the season, Ohio State is undefeated, ranked No. 2 in the country and controls its Big Ten and College Football Playoff destiny about as much as it possibly can.
But even with that, Ohio State is still hoping. Hoping that a defense that has been too susceptible to big plays and a sluggish running game can be fixed before those things take the air out of some big dreams.
Ohio State’s defense has allowed 32 plays of 20 yards or more in six games – 20 on passes and 12 on running plays. Its running game has averaged 122 yards and 2.9 yards a carrying in its last three games.
“There’s a constant evaluation of that and it’s ever changing with personnel when guys get dinged up and hurt,” Meyer said when asked about the possibility of changing defensive schemes or players. “That’s what we do all day – constant evaluation.”
Purdue (3-3, 2-1 Big Ten) appears to be a team that can present a big challenge to OSU’s defense in a prime time match-up against the Buckeyes on Saturday night in West Lafayette, Ind. The Boilermakers average 510 yards a game on offense and quarterback David Blough has averaged 310 yards a game passing since he became the starter in the second game of the season.
Purdue started the season with losses to Northwestern, Eastern Michigan and Missouri, but has beaten Boston College 30-13, Nebraska 42-28 and Illinois 46-7 since then.
Predictably, Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said only good things about OSU during his weekly press conference on Monday.
“I think when you look at the college football landscape there are two teams that stand out as being elite and that’s Alabama and Ohio State, and rightfully so,” he said. “They’ve had a couple games that were a little close and these guys just know how to win. They know how to find a way to win.”
Linebacker Malik Harrison and defensive end Jonathan Cooper will be available to play on Saturday. Both missed last Saturday’s game against Minnesota because of concussions.
Defensive lineman Robert Landers is “probable” and cornerback Damon Arnette is “questionable,” Meyer said. Offensive lineman Thayer Munford is “probable.”
KICKERS COMPETING?: Sophomore kicker Blake Haubeil went 3 for 3 on field goals, including hitting a 47-yarder against Minnesota when No. 1 kicker Sean Nuernberger strained a muscle during pre-game warm-ups.
Could that success by Haubeil in his first three field goal attempts in college mean there is a competition between him and Nuernberger for the starting kicker’s job?
“Blake came in and really hammered the ball and did a good job,” Meyer said. The OSU coach said he did not know how close to healthy Nuerberger is. “It’s open for discussion. He (Haubeil) was pretty good. It’s a competition every day.”
BACKS NEED THE BALL: Ohio State has averaged 122 yards rushing and 2.9 yards per carry in its last three games while the passing game has carried the offense.
“We have two very good tailbacks (J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber) and we’re making a concerted effort to get the ball in their hands and let them run,” Meyer said.
JORDAN ADJUSTS AT CENTER: Michael Jordan’s move from guard to center this season has gone well, Meyer said.
“He’s done a pretty good job. He’s a very serious guy, a very good player and actually is having a very good year,” he said.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Wide receiver K.J. Hill, who caught 9 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, was Ohio State’s Offensive Player of the Game against Minnesota and safety Jordan Fuller, who had 13 tackles, was the Defensive Player of the Game.