COLUMBUS, Ohio - Urban Meyer has never been one to think too far ahead with regular season games still ahead and he isn't starting in 2017.
After a devastating loss at Iowa, all hope of another Buckeye playoff run seemed to be swept away as quickly as the Hawkeyes scored two Saturday's ago. Now, after a wild weekend of college football, Ohio State is once again in the edge of potential playoff contention, although some more help is needed.
Even with the possibility of another playoff berth for Ohio State, this time with one of the most talent-laden groups Meyer has ever had, there has been and will be no playoff talk any time soon.
"There will be zero conversation around here,” Meyer said. “Especially when you talk to the players, there will be zero conversation about what happened before and what’s going to happen in the future. Zero."
It's a smart move to keep a team focused on what lies ahead rather than a shot in the dark, but there's a real possibility the Buckeyes could be talking about a playoff run if the stars align correctly. That might just be wishful thinking, but so was 2014 at first.
Come back Damon
Damon Arnette enjoyed one of his best performances this season, even though he missed a chunk of playing time when he went down after a Michigan State scramble. Arnette could be seen hobbling a bit on his left leg before slumping to the ground and asking for assistance.
After coming off the field with help from trainers, he was helped to the examination table before he tried to apply pressure to his leg. When it buckled beneath him, Arnette was quickly wisked away to the locker room.
Meyer called the injury a "tough thigh bruise" after the game, but ensured there was nothing major about his No. 2 corner's injury. Monday, Meyer reiterated that and deemed Arnette as "probable" for Saturday's upcoming matchup.
While Arnette will most likely not be needed against Illinois, the probably designation is a good sign for his availability for the rest of the season.
Studrawa was a stud against Michigan State
Ohio State's offensive line was outstanding against the Spartans and a lot of the credit can be given to coach Greg Studrawa.
Although he has been praised for his work before, Studrawa received special recognition for his game-prep efforts by Meyer on Monday. Noting the performance of his top-two running backs, Meyer gave credit to Studrawa for the wide-open running lanes.
"I think we're as strong right now as we've ever had it as far as depth. Antonio does a nice job, too. I like the way we use the guys ... obviously it worked out," Meyer said. "But I thought, I think it's a good credit for Coach Studrawa as well. That's as active as he's been in the game plan. When the line coach takes ownership like that ... I think that was against the number one rush team in America, at least top 5. And I thought our backs ran really hard. They played fresh and they played fast and they played hard."
The adaptations of Kevin Wilson
Kevin Wilson's offense did not work against Iowa, but something sure clicked against Michigan State.
A quick glance at the box score tells the tale of a top-notch performance offensively, even with two J.T. Barrett interceptions. The biggest successes Ohio State had were on the ground on delayed hand-offs up the middle and Meyer was quick to point out why those plays were effective.
"Thee one thing about a draw a lot of times is you lose equation of numbers. And you have to run the Q all the time. Q draw, you can equate numbers, but, my gosh, you keep running the quarterback too much," Meyer said. "So, you can only run it in certain looks. And that's if they leave the box because they're worried about your pass defense. And that's what happened on that one, the big hit was they were, because we're a good crossing route team. Once again I'm not their coach, but they were playing in coverage. We hit a draw on them."
Meyer might receive credit for that adjustment, but the thanks should be given to Kevin Wilson for mixing up his play calling to attack the weaknesses of a defense. That aspect did not seem to be a factor against Iowa, so the changes were a welcome sign to any fan frustrated by the offense in the week prior.
There has to be talk about targeting
Something is not quite right with the targeting penalty in college football, but Meyer does not necessarily think there needs to be a change.
Ohio State has now had four players ejected for the infraction this season. While Nick Bosa's against Iowa and Dre'Mont Jones' fall into different categories, the Ohio State coach has not been pleased with the frequency his players are being tossed.
But he isn't blaming it solely on referees.
"Denzel Ward's was a mistake. That's where the replay official should not be replay official anymore. You don't have that. The guys on the field make mistakes; it happens fast. But a replay official screws it up, then you can't do that," Meyer said. "But the other ones we've had ... I was disappointed in Dre'Mont. It was a late hit. It was you don't do that. So we are, we teach it. Obviously we don't teach it well enough. But I don't agree that they should change it. They just, it's what it is. Keep your face out, keep your helmet out of the game."
The Buckeyes were nearlt called for another targeting call later in the game when Kendall Sheffield hit a Michigan State receiver in the air trying to defend a pass. That flag was picked up, but it most likely raised Meyer's blood pressure a bit.
In the future Ohio State might be more careful about hitting players high, but the cost could be allowing a big gain by going in too soft for a tackle. Hard to win at this game.