Posted: 12:26 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, 2013
By Luke Zimmermann
Though Urban Meyer's usual weekly 11:45 AM ET press conference was delayed some so that Meyer could attend the funeral of local TV icon Dom Tiberi's late daughter (whom the football team payed homage to this weekend with helmet stickers), wide receivers coach Zach Smith led off the press session with some news of note.
Freshman wide receiver James Clark, who went down with what appeared to be a leg injury, done for the season with an ankle injury. There's a possibility he'll be able to redshirt. Regarding JUCO WR Corey Smith and sophomore Michael Thomas, who've both yet to see action this season, Smith reiterated Urban Meyer's comments from this past Saturday that the plan would be to redshirt both.
On junior wide out Devin Smith, Ohio State's receivers coach called him "a very talented vertical threat" and acknowledged the strides he'd made in the intermediate passing game as well the growth he's made towards becoming a better all-around receiver. With Wisconsin looming, Smith stated that he felt the program is always prepared for adversity and ready to take on challenges tough games like the one against the Badgers Saturday night present.
Smith also took time to single out junior Evan Spencer, who caught a touchdown against Florida A&M.; "Every aspect of his game has improved," Smith said.
Regarding quarterback Braxton Miller, who's widely expected to return from an injury that's caused him to miss the last two games and most of the Buckeyes' second game against San Diego State, Smith said that when Miller returns "It's not like he's been on vacation," and doesn't expect him to be out of sync with the rest of the offense. Smith also stated that the offense doesn't change much when Braxton is under center versus when backup Kenny Guiton is leading the charge.
Luke Fickell took the stage next and provided a bit of surprise when he stated that LB Mike Mitchell is a likely redshirt. Mitchell had been one of the first newcomers to lose his black stripe this past fall camp. On the differences between Wisconsin's offense from last year and this year, Fickell said the garden variety wasn't all that varied. He stated he felt the key to the game would be the team's defensive line.
Meyer finally took the podium himself and led off by referring to the non-conference portion of the schedule as "preseason". He was very complimentary of Wisconsin as a whole, stating that "in [his] opinion, they're the king of the Big Ten." Meyer and Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen have a history going back to their days coaching together at Utah.
On the prospects of utilizing Miller and Guiton concurrently, Meyer stated, "if Kenny was better than one of our receivers, he'd be starting there. If Braxton was better than one of our running backs, he would be," and later said he didn't know if the two playing concurrently would be a reality. Meyer added that if Miller has a good week of practice, he'd get the honors of starting this week.
In terms of how far along Miller is, Meyer called him "90%" but praised how far Guiton's come, saying he wasn't good enough to play in 2011 or 2012.
With regards to how the two teams stack up, Meyer reiterated that it wouldn't (only) be a contest to determine which side had the better running game: "I want to win the game". He did state that he believed the game would be a classic one and noted that many Ohio State-Wisconsin games come down to the final minutes.
Meyer did update the media in attendance on the health of Adolphus Washington calling him 'probable' and stating that he'd been dealing with lingering pain from the groin injury that'd sidelined him in recent weeks.
In a moment of levity, when asked whether or not he missed Bret Bielema, Meyer laughed and said "No, I'm good with Gary (Andersen)."
Andrew Lind contributed to this report.