March 18, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a week off for spring break, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer welcomed his team and his two new coaches – co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chris Ash and assistant head coach/defensive line coach Larry Johnson – to what he referred to as the real first day of the 2014 spring season for his Buckeyes.

“Those first two practices last week weren’t really spring practices,” Meyer told the team before the start of a two-hour practice outdoors at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “Today is when we are really going to get going and I expect `plus-two’ and `four-to-six seconds’ on every play.”

It was a pleasant late afternoon/early evening session at the Woody for the players, who practiced at “thud tempo” and were outfitted in Buckeye gear (shoulder pads and shorts but no knee pads; full pads come out Thursday). Temps were in the mid-50s, there was very little wind and those at practice, including numerous high school coaches, former Buckeyes (New England Patriot Nate Ebner, Baltimore Raven John Simon and San Diego Charger Zach Boren to name a few) and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer coach and Greg Schiano, seemed to enjoy the warm sunshine and the bright blue skies.

Afterward, Meyer met with the media in the team meeting room and addressed a number of key topics and players. Some of his thoughts:

Regarding what other schools do…
“We’ve done a lot of research. On offense, obviously we researched teams that run similar schemes that we run. We had Texas A&M and Clemson come visit us. On defense, with our transition of staff, we want to be a quarters team. Coach Ash has an extensive background but we haven’t stopped there. We keep adding.”

The visit from former Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano…
“Greg Schiano was actually here today. He is a great friend of mine. He’s spending some time with me talking about defense. So yes, we’ve done a lot and this is a great time of year to really study the game. I think we’ve done a good job; now we have to see improvement on the field.”

Who is stepping up at quarterback this spring…
Cardale Jones is running with the `ones’ right now. You talk about a changed guy. He was a guy who couldn’t get out of his own way and now he’s seeing great progress [on the field] … and in the classroom. You remember the tweet a couple years ago? He’s a different guy. And he had to be a different guy or he wouldn’t be here.”

And a few other thoughts from Meyer today:

  • He said it wouldn’t be fair to say Ezekiel Elliott is the No. 1 running back because Rod Smith is running hard and Bri’onte Dunn had a really good day today.
  • Meyer added that SAF Vonn Bell (knee surgery two weeks ago but is expected to resume conditioning in May) going down really hurts the defense. He would like to have “all the moving parts” on defense before all the freshmen come in.
  • He said he wants an aggressive defense that doesn’t worry about things … and he understands that occasionally a defense is going to give up a big play.
  • LB Darron Lee’s name and play was brought up for the second time this spring by Meyer. He also said, among the young players, LB Raekwon McMillan was also practicing very well.
  • CB Eli Apple returned to practice after missing some time with an illness.
  • Meyer said he will conduct a spring game every year. He loves the opportunity for young players to get reps in front of potentially 70,000 fans.

The Buckeyes are off from practice Wednesday and will resume on field drills Thursday at approximately 4 p.m.