COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Less than three days before his team heads to Madison for a Big Ten battle with Wisconsin, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer met with the media to provide an update on the Buckeyes. Speaking for less than five minutes following his team's practice, Meyer touched on a number of topics, including the health of his team and his thoughts on this Saturday's game.
Battling the Badgers
At the top of the Buckeyes' priority list this week is stopping the Badgers' run game, which racked up 564 yards in Wisconsin's 62-14 win over Indiana last weekend. Meyer admitted that slowing down Badgers backs Montee Ball and James White is even tougher thanks to the multiple formations that Wisconsin attempts to run the ball out of.
"It's crazy the formations you'll see," Meyer said. "There's times there's six linemen in the game, and there's four or five to one side."
The first-year OSU coach said that the key to defending the run will be having his players maintain their gap assignments, and that not doing so could result in a repeat performance for the Wisconsin run game.
"That's fine if you get lined up. If you don't get lined up, you'll get embarrassed," Meyer said. "Some teams have gotten embarrassed recently against that."
Due to an injury to Joel Stave and the inconsistencies of Danny O'Brien, the Badgers are down to their third quarterback of the season, in senior Curt Phillips. In his first start of the season last weekend, the Tennessee native threw for 41 yards and just seven pass attempts, but also added to the Wisconsin's running attack with 67 yards on the ground.
"They want to run him a little bit," Meyer said. "I didn't realize that until I started watching the film."
Given that dual-threat quarterbacks have given the Buckeyes' defense trouble throughout the season, Meyer said that it will be crucial for his team to turn the inexperienced starter into a one-dimensional player.
"I'm concerned about him running the ball," Meyer admitted. "Obviously you know how we feel about that, having a quarterback who can do something with his legs."
After fracturing his fibula in the Buckeyes' Oct. 6 win over Nebraska, linebacker Etienne Sabino is expected to make his return to the field against the Badgers on Saturday. Meyer said that even just in practice, he's noticed the senior captain's presence and an improvement in the OSU linebacking corps.
"It's been a good week for those guys," Meyer said. "Having Sabino back gives you a sense of stability that we haven't had before.
Also expected make his return this weekend is freshman defensive back and special teamer Armani Reeves, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the days leading up to OSU's Oct. 13 game against Indiana, and hasn't played since.
"One of the 'piranhas' is back," Meyer said, referring to the nickname for the Buckeyes' kickoff coverage unit.
-Meyer said that he wouldn't describe himself as having "fun" right now, but said that he is enjoying himself being around these players and coaches.
-Meyer confirmed that professional wrestler Thaddeus Bullard, a former Florida defensive end (1997-2000) worked out at the Ohio State facility on Monday.
-Due to injuries, Meyer said that fullback Adam Homan would likely be the team's third-string running back right now.
-Meyer said that Zach Boren will remain at linebacker right now.
-Meyer said that he became close friends with Bobby Bowden while at Florida, and that he always tried to pick his brain, much like he did with Joe Paterno.
-Meyer said that defensive lineman Michael Bennett is banged up still but could play. Called it a "tough year" for the Pickerington native.