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Less than 48 hours removed from his debut as Ohio State's head coach, Urban Meyer met with the media to discuss the Buckeyes' 56-10 win over Miami (OH) and their upcoming game with Central Florida. Speaking for more than 30 minutes, Meyer provided some insight into how he evaluates his teams and how he plans to prepare for Saturday's matchup with the Knights.
Each coaching staff has its own way of evaluating how its team played on game day, and Ohio State's is no exception. On Monday, Meyer announced that Bradley Roby, Christian Bryant, Travis Howard, Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort, Kenny Guiton, Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Corey Brown, and Devin Smith were all named to his 'Champions Club' with their play against the RedHawks.
"Champions Club, those are the guys that graded out winning efforts," Meyer said. "We have a very clear plan to win here."
Meyer also gave high praise to his team's special teams unit, calling out kicker Drew Basil and punter Ben Buchanan for their efforts, as well as linebacker Jamal Marcus and cornerback Adam Griffin, who was named the team's special teams player of the week.
"Kind of an unsung hero for us, and I love the guy," Meyer said of Griffin. "He goes really hard and tries really hard."
Starting out slow
Saturday's final score may have been a lopsided one, the Buckeyes looked far from dominant in the first 15 minutes, when they were held scoreless and saw their first four offensive series' end in punts. Although not pleased with his teams effort at the time, Meyer now thinks that his team is better off for the experience.
"Very disappointed in the first quarter, and I'm glad after you evaluate it now, I'm very glad that happened," Meyer said. "It gives us an opportunity to coach very, very hard and get some things corrected."
Meyer admitted that a part of OSU's disappointing start can be blamed on the fact that it was its first game with a new coaching staff and that everybody- coaches included- had some adjusting to do.
"So much was new," Meyer said. "I can't stand first games because are we going to the golf course, what shoes do we wear? Can I wear this? What about a visor, what about my parent's tickets, instead of getting locked in on the game."
Dueling with the Knights
A potential slow start might not be as kind to the Buckeyes this Saturday, when they'll welcome UCF into Columbus. The Knights were impressive in their first game of the season, thrashing Akron in a 56-14 victory.
"Whole different animal coming in here this week. I know this team, I know this coach, I know this coaching staff, and we have great respect for everything they've done," Meyer said. "They've led the defense in their conference the last three years. They have very good players. 300-pound plus defensive tackles, two athletic defensive ends, it's what you'd imagine out of Central Florida."
The OSU coach expressed some concerns with how his team will control 327-pound defensive tackle Jose Jose, but also said that he's already noticed his players preparing for the Knights.
"To say that we don't have a lot of respect for Central Florida would be nonsense," Meyer said. "The good thing is nowadays our players have already seen film so they have a touch of what's going on with all these iPads floating around here. They have plenty of film to watch."
In addition to watching game film of the Knights, plenty of OSU players have been spending time re-watching wide receiver Devin Smith's one-handed highlight reel touchdown catch from Saturday. Although clearly impressed with the catch, Meyer said he's yet to compliment Smith on it.
"He just keeps walking by me waiting for me to say great catch, and I just won't do it," Meyer said. "I won't do it. I'm not going to do that."
After spending the offseason searching for players on the OSU roster who could provide the 'wow factor,' Meyer said that Smith's catch gave him confidence that he can be that guy.
"We really try to evaluate who can make a big play? I ask the question all the time, who can physically score the touchdown?" Meyer said. "I didn't know Devin Smith could. I have not seen it. Now I know he can."
According to Meyer, running back Jordan Hall may resume practicing with the team again this week after recovering from offseason foot surgery, but he does not expect the senior captain to be available to play against the Knights. Meyer also said he'll be interesting to see how defensive end Nathan Williams recovers from Saturday's game, which was his first since undergoing microfracture knee surgery a year ago.
"He played a little bit more, and he was very sore yesterday," Meyer said. "I would anticipate that the rust is officially knocked off him and we'll be ready to go. He was in a good mindset after that game."
Meyer was also unsure of the status of defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who missed Saturday's game after re-aggravating a groin injury in warmups. Although anxiously awaiting Bennett's return, Meyer said that the play of freshmen defensive linemen Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, and Tommy Schutt provided him with some faith in the Buckeyes' depth.
"We need him too. We need the rotation," Meyer said. "The young defensive linemen did a good job. We played 14 true freshmen, usually d-linemen don't play as a true freshman, but that is the confidence we have in those guys."
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