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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Fewer than 48 hours after Ohio State's 52-49 win over Indiana, Urban Meyer met with the media on Monday for his weekly press conference. Answering questions for more than 25 minutes, the Buckeyes' head coach touched on a number of topics including the state of the OSU defense and his team's upcoming game against Purdue.
After the Buckeyes' surrendered 49 points to the Hoosiers' offense on Saturday, most of the questions asked of Meyer on Monday dealt with OSU's defensive side of the ball. Immediately following the game, the Buckeyes' coach promised to get more involved with the OSU defense, which is something he's already done in the short time since Saturday's game.
"I've not done that very often. I think my job is to support our staff, support our players," Meyer said. "Calling defenses, I'll give my ideas, but once again, that would be a mistake for me to come in. We have very good coaches, very good coaches. I think mine is going to be one of leadership, toughness, and the 4 to 6 second demand that we have on this team, not just defense."
Asked if he was happy with performances that he's received from coaches on his defensive staff, Meyer admitted that he wasn't pleased with anything he has seen recently from that side of the ball, but thinks that the unit's problems are fixable.
"I'm not happy at all with what's going on defense. That includes players, coaches, and I think we can all get better. It's a team effort," Meyer said. "We've got good coaches, good players and we'll move forward and get better."
In a move that was indicative of the currently problems facing the Ohio State defense, former fullback Zach Boren made his college debut at linebacker on Saturday, leading the Buckeyes with eight tackles. Meyer said that Boren's position change was necessitated by the leg injury suffered by linebacker Etienne Sabino and the need for the Buckeyes to add leadership on that side of the ball.
"Zach Boren is a guy that there's something about game experience. There is something about being in the arena many, many times," Meyer said. "You start sticking freshmen here and there, here and there, and they're just in survival mode, not leadership mode."
Addressing Boren's future, Meyer called the move to linebacker "temporarily permanent," as moving a player from one side of the ball to the other is so rare at the midpoint of the season. The OSU coach, however, does have a history of shifting players between offense and defense, like he did at Florida when he moved center Mike Pouncey to defensive tackle for a few games.
"Right in the middle of the practice I moved him to defensive tackle because we were banged and bruised and didn't have the leadership, didn't have the toughness at that point," Meyer said. "I moved him for period four, and it changed the whole practice. His energy, his leadership, his toughness, and we kept him over there for several games just until guys got back."
No longer Hyding
For the second consecutive week, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde earned offensive player of the week honors, although this week he shared them with left tackle Jack Mewhort and quarterback Braxton Miller. Despite a slow start, Meyer was pleased by Hyde's 156-yard performance, which came on the heels of him having gained 140 yards in the Buckeyes' win over Nebraska.
"Really disappointed in the way he started though. He didn't start strong," Meyer assessed. "The good thing is he's playing really well. His post contact yardage is really, really making us some really good offense."
After calling this season a "make or break" one for the junior running back, Meyer has been pleased by the maturity of Hyde as both a person and player, which was evident in how handled his lackluster start.
"He's finally to the point in his career where I can have a grown man conversation with him and it was great. He admitted that," Meyer said. "It just wasn't I think all those great excuses I told you about, the trip, the whole everything, we just didn't start very fast. He did not. But he got real strong. By the end of the game, he was a man."
The emergence of Hyde in the OSU offense has been particularly important for the Buckeyes, given the loss of Jordan Hall, who is still recovering from a partially torn PCL that he suffered in OSU's win over Michigan State. Meyer listed the senior running back as "doubtful" for this week's game against Purdue, and is still unsure of a timetable for the Cleveland native's return.
On defense, Meyer expects Nathan Williams to play on Saturday after missing the Buckeyes' win over Indiana with a concussion. The OSU coach also hinted at the possibility of the Buckeyes getting creative in how they use the senior defensive end, in an effort to get him on the field alongside true freshman Noah Spence, who played well in the Buckeyes' win over the Hoosiers.
"Noah Spence and Nate Williams play the same position, so let's have a conversation about that and we are. How do you get them both on the field at the same time is the conversation," Meyer said. "If your best 11, three four, four three, whatever, get them on the field. We've got enough coaches to figure that out."
Up next for the Buckeyes are the 3-3 Boilermakers, who will enter Ohio Stadium fresh off of two consecutive losses to Michigan and Wisconsin. Having yet to fully study Purdue on film, Meyer remains unsure of just how Wisconsin was capable of beating them by a 38-14 score.
"It's just too early to give you a whole how, why Wisconsin did that," Meyer said. "I see very good players. I see an aggressive scheme."
Meyer sang the praises of Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short, who allows the Boilermakers to be versatile in their approach on defense.
"It's not a vanilla scheme. The last couple of weeks they kind of played and showed you their hand and played it," Meyer said. "This group's all over the place. It's a little bit of a they play a bunch of different defenses, so we just have to be on our game."
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