|Meyer wary of SDSU despite stunning upset loss|
|Tuesday, September 03, 2013 12:44 AM|
By RUSTY MILLER
COLUMBUS — Even though San Diego State was beaten by a lower-division team in its opener, Urban Meyer believes it is dangerous to take the Aztecs lightly.
The Ohio State coach made the case that the Aztecs were on the wrong end of a 40-19 score at home on Saturday night because they lost Adam Muema to an ankle injury — “arguably the best tailback we’ll face all year” — and that FCS member Eastern Illinois played a great game.
Rocky Long will bring his Aztecs to Ohio Stadium on Saturday to face the second-ranked Buckeyes.
After the opening-game loss, he said, “That’s as bad a performance as I’ve ever been around and obviously I’m responsible, so that’s my fault. It was a horrible, horrible job of coaching.”
Meyer, however, said Long has always been a terrific coach, including stops at New Mexico and now San Diego State.
It was while Long was at his alma mater, New Mexico, in 2003 that his Lobos handed Utah one of only two defeats Meyer sustained during his two years with the Utes.
“I coached against Rocky Long before,” Meyer said Monday. “He’s an excellent football coach, tough, and his guys play real hard. They won nine games last year, which is not surprising for his teams.”
Most of Meyer’s words were directed at his own team, which rolled to a 40-20 win over Buffalo in its opener.
As expected, mistakes were made in the first game. But the Buckeyes figure to be a lot better with the addition of star cornerback Bradley Roby and No. 2 tailback Rod Smith, both coming off one-game suspensions.
Roby, an All-Big Ten performer a year ago, isn’t guaranteed to start but will vie for playing time this week in practice. Armani Reeves, who got the call to replace Roby against Buffalo, and the other starter, Doran Grant, would also be in the mix.
“We’ll get a lot of work in and rotate those three guys with the first team,” cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said of his practice plans.
Smith could see action backing up Jordan Hall, who rushed for a career-best 159 yards and two TDs on Saturday, or playing tailback while Hall shifts to the H-back spot. The Buckeyes are still awaiting the return of 2012 leading scorer and No. 2 rusher Carlos Hyde, suspended for three games.
“Rod is a commodity to this football team,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said. “Having him back is definitely a plus for us.”
In addition to Roby and Smith, the Buckeyes will are hoping they get help from two other starters. Safety C.J. Barnett was held out of the opener with a sprained ankle and center Corey Linsley was limited to less than 20 snaps as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery.
Quarterback Braxton Miller had a solid game and a young defense also acquitted itself.
All last week, Meyer preached that the Buckeyes needed to get out of the blocks quicker than they did a year ago, when they frequently had problems early.
They more than met that objective against Buffalo by rolling to a 23-0 lead after a quarter. But then they watched as the 35-point underdog Bulls twice pulled within 10 points.
“I was not very pleased when we had the lull,” Meyer added.
There were other glitches that are being addressed. The offensive line surrendered four sacks, with Buffalo’s brutish linebacker, Kahlil Mack, dominating whoever tried to block him.
“His stock in the draft just went up a little bit after playing against us. He did a very good job. He manhandled some guys,” Meyer said of Mack. “He could play anywhere at any school in America.”
Meyer said he still has extremely high expectations for his offense.
“I want to score every time we touch the ball,” he added. “I’m disappointed if we don’t score.”
BUCKEYES BUZZ: San Diego State’s media guide calls Brian Sipe “one of the greatest players in program history.” Yet for a lot of people, particularly NFL fans living in Ohio, the same description would fit his years with the Cleveland Browns.
Sipe is now the quarterbacks coach for San Diego State, which will take on the Buckeyes at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Sipe was a star QB for the Aztecs from 1969-71 before embarking — no pun intended, denizens of the Dawg Pound — on a terrific 10-year career with the Browns.
Average in stature (6-1) but with a quick release and great accuracy, Sipe passed for more than 5,700 yards and 44 touchdowns at San Diego State while going 15-7 as a starter. Twice an Associated Press honorable mention All-American, he had seven 300-yard passing games under legendary SDSU coach Don Coryell and was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in the inaugural class in 1988.
Picked in the 13th round of the draft by the Browns, he went on to complete 1,944 passes in 3,439 attempts for almost 24,000 yards and 154 touchdowns. The San Diego native was the NFL’s MVP in 1980 while leading the Browns to an 11-5 record.
He was, of course, the heart and soul of the famed “Kardiac Kids” team which continually came from behind to pull out wins.
“I was young. I remember going and watching them play in the old stadium,” Meyer said Monday. “I love it.”
It was on Jan. 4, 1981, that the Browns were playing the Raiders in AFC divisional playoff game. The Browns could have settled for a short, game-winning field goal — although there was no guarantee on a freezing, windy day at the old Cleveland Stadium.
Instead, Sipe elected to throw a pass to Pro Football Hall-of-Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome — a route called Red Right 88 by coach Sam Rutigliano. It was intercepted in the end zone by Raiders safety Mike Davis, sealing a 14-12 victory.
And on Saturday, Sipe will be returning to the Buckeye state for another game.
FAVORED STATUS: Ohio State opened as a 24-point favorite over the Aztecs but was listed on Monday afternoon as a 28.5-point favorite.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Buckeyes recruiting coordinator Coombs: “Recruiting is a 365-day process at Ohio State. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t talk about, focus on and participate in some recruiting activities here.”
SINGLED OUT: Each week Ohio State’s coaching staff selects the champions from the previous week’s game, based on film and stats.
The top offensive player from the 40-20 win over Buffalo was Jordan Hall, who had career bests of 159 yards rushing and 2 TDs. Wide receivers Corey Brown and Chris Fields were also mentioned.
On defense, the player of the game was Christian Bryant, the only returning starter on the field at times. Also receiving special mention were DL Noah Spence and CB Doran Grant.
BIG TEN HONORS: The players of the week in the Big Ten were Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase (416 passing yards, 2 TDs in a win over Southern Illinois); Northwestern LB Collin Ellis (two interception returns for TDs in a win at California) and Penn State K Sam Ficken (3-for-3 on FGs, 2-for-2 on PATs in a win over Syracuse).
The freshman of the week in the conference was Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, who threw for 278 yards and two TDs in his first college game and start.
ALSO HONORED: Two of the Mid-American Conference’s East Division honorees have an Ohio State tie.
The defensive player of the week was Buffalo LB Khalil Mack, who had 2.5 sacks, seven solo tackles and brought an interception back 45 yards for a touchdown in the 40-20 loss to Ohio State.
The offensive standout was RB William Houston, a former preferred walk-on with the Buckeyes who transferred to Bowling Green and rushed for three second-half touchdowns in the Falcons’ 34-7 win over Tulsa.
STAYING CLOSE TO HOME: Former Ohio State LB great Chris Spielman will provide the game analysis and Sean McDonough will do play-by-play for Saturday’s game on ABC.
STATS WATCH: QB Braxton Miller needs 18 yards rushing to pass Cornelius Greene (2,080) and become Ohio State’s all-time leading rusher among QBs; a victory would tie for fifth place in consecutive wins (14) at Ohio State record; seven Buckeyes made their first career start against Buffalo and nine freshmen saw action; the opener also was the first time in 28 years that Ohio State started an entirely new defensive line.