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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Less than 48 hours removed from his team's 63-38 win over Nebraska on Saturday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer met with the media on Monday for his weekly press conference. Answering questions for more than 30 minutes, the undefeated Buckeyes' head coach evaluated his team's latest victory and previewed their upcoming game with Indiana.
Thanks to their second win over a ranked team in as many weeks, the Buckeyes climbed to the No. 8 ranking in this week's AP top-25 poll- four spots higher than the No. 12 spot that they occupied a week ago. While some coaches claim to ignore where their teams stand on a weekly basis, Meyer asserted that he's aware of the climb that OSU is currently making, and that it's something that he's already addressed with his team.
"These players are just playing football, and they have a right to know where they stand on a national level," Meyer said. "They're going to talk about it when they go home, when they walk to class. They're going to talk about it. Why not have here's really where we're at. We'll have a conversation about that once it starts."
But although the Buckeyes have reached the midpoint of their season with an undefeated record intact, Meyer isn't prepared to start talking about a potential 12-0 season and AP National Title, even if some of his players are.
"I'll chat with them about that. We've got to get I think we only completed seven passes and gave up a bunch of yardage. So we'll handle that," Meyer said. "We're not going to talk about that stuff."
One reason for the Buckeyes' climb in the polls may have to do with the outpour of offense that they showcased on Saturday, putting up 63 points on a team that was surrendering an average of 20.6 heading into the game. And with big plays coming from a multitude of players, Meyer's confident that there's plenty more where that came from in the OSU arsenal.
"You saw Rod Smith come out the other end of one. You saw Carlos Hyde come out the other end. So we need explosive plays in the offense," Meyer said. "We crushed them last week in practice, and talking about it. We finally saw that."
After gaining 371 of their 498 yards on offense rushing the ball, Meyer again gave credit for the Buckeyes' offensive production to the their offensive line, something that is becoming a growing trend in his weekly press conference's.
"Our offensive line is the whole reason why we're where we are today and feeling good after a big win is because the offensive line played. Tell it the way it is," Meyer said. "Our offensive line is coming on."
Although Meyer will never admit it, the Buckeyes are hitting a bit of a soft spot in their schedule, which will start with this Saturday's matchup at Indiana. The Hoosiers come into the game sporting a 2-3 record, but jumped out to a 17-0 lead over Michigan State last weekend, which was certainly enough to catch the OSU coaching staff's eyes.
"They're coming on," Meyer said of the Hoosiers. "They're getting better in all phases. I wasn't here last year, but I watched some of their film. They're a much better team. They have pretty good players too."
One of those players is Centerville native Adam Replogle, a 6-foot-3, 294-pound defensive tackle who has stood out to Meyer as perhaps Indiana's top defensive player.
"He's their best defensive lineman," Meyer said. "It seems like every week we play someone from Ohio. That tells you how great high school football is in this state. Yeah, he's very good."
The Buckeyes won't be at full strength for their trip to Bloomington, with running bac Jordan Hall expected to miss another week thanks to a partially torn PCL that he suffered against Michigan State. Meyer and his squad will also be without linebacker Etienne Sabino for at least three more weeks, an injury that the OSU coach called "a tremendous blow."
Expected to start in Sabino's place is true freshman Joshua Perry, who's seen most of his playing time this season come on special teams.
"Very talented. He's just got to learn to release and let it go," Meyer said of Perry. "He played okay. He's got to play better. But he's willing and a good person, and a lot of talent."
On a positive note for OSU, junior safety C.J. Barnett is expected to make his return to the Buckeyes' lineup this week, after missing the past three games with a high ankle sprain.
Injuries haven't been the only reason for recent changes in the Ohio State lineup. Last week, it was announced that freshman receiver Ricquan Southward was voluntarily leaving the program, and that junior safety Jamie Wood's playing career may be over due to his second shoulder surgery of the season.
On Monday, Meyer elaborated on Southward's exit, stating that the Florida native was returning home after losing his love for the game of football. Meyer also said that the Buckeyes' are also evaluating the status of Wood moving forward and looking into a potential medical hardship waiver for the Pickerington native.
"He was helping us. We need his help. He's a great kid," Meyer said of Wood. "We're looking after the best interest of him. Two shoulder surgeries are tough."
Monday also gave Meyer the opportunity to address the status of freshman quarterback Cardale Jones, who was suspended for OSU's game against the Huskers after posting a tweet stating that "classes are pointless" and that players come to Ohio State just to "play football." Meyer said that was dissappointed by the temporary distraction that his third-string quarterback provided for his teammates, but that the incident is a thing of the past.
"Very ignorant comment, but that's a 19-year-old making an ignorant comment, which makes him one of 460 million," Meyer said. "We're moving on. I've moved on already."
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