Ohio State rolled Tulane 49-6 on Saturday to end a rocky couple of months for the program.
So maybe it was only natural the state’s official rock song would be what brought Urban Meyer back to normal coaching the fourth-ranked Buckeyes.
“Between the third and fourth quarter, hearing the band play, ‘Hang on Sloopy.’ it’s been the same for seven years,” Meyer said when asked what stood out to him in his first game after a three-game suspension levied for mismanaging the employment of former assistant Zach Smith.
“This community and this school and this university mean the world to me,” Meyer said. “The state, this is our home state. This is something that, you know, in 2012, when (Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith) made a call and asked me if I would be interested in coming back to Ohio State, and (the football program was) going through a tough time then as well, and we did.
“My family is completely ingrained in this community, they love this place. I love this university. Walking into that Skull Session and see ‘Buckeye Nation’s’ support for myself and our team, that was somewhat overwhelming and I appreciate that. Very appreciative of it.”
The last thing any coach wants heading into a big conference showdown like Ohio State’s game at No. 10 Penn State next week is to lose a player in a blowout.
There was concern the Buckeyes did just that when Mike Weber limped off the field in the second quarter, but Meyer said the junior running back has a foot strain and should be fine for next week.
Weber finished with 18 yards on six carries while J.K. Dobbins led the way with 55 yards on 11 carries for the Buckeyes.
Wayne grad L'Christian "Blue" Smith debuts for Buckeyes against Tulane https://t.co/nfzkgPawaT— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) September 23, 2018
Ohio State is already down one major piece with All-American defensive end Nick Bosa sidelined indefinitely following surgery to repair a core muscle injury.
His absence meant the Green Wave could slide protections toward emerging playmakers Chase Young and/or Dre’Mont Jones (if they were on the same side), but they still didn’t have much success handling the OSU defensive line as a whole.
“He slid to our side and doubled me with a running back, put a tight end in close,” said Young. “I think every rollout I had a tight end come down and try to block me from getting outside. With Nick, you can’t really double team. If you do slide that way, Nick’s got a one one one. If you slide the other way, I’ve got a one on one.”
He’s looking forward to having a chance to make a name for himself now, though.
“I try to play with a chip on my shoulder because I know I can get different things with Nick being out and be the next man up,” said Chase Young, a sophomore who had one of Ohio State’s 14 tackles for loss.
Jashon Cornell, one of the players in line for more playing time with Bosa down, also had one while true freshman Tyler Friday logged his first sack.
Defense holds up
After being prone to giving up big plays early in the season, the Ohio State defense was mostly sound against a unique Tulane triple-option offense that operated out of the shotgun.
The starters gave up one explosive play — a 38-yard pass from Jonathan Banks to Terren Encalade that set up Tulane’s only touchdown.
“A lot of respect for Tulane, triple-option type offense that you have to be assignment sound for the most part,” Meyer said. "We played pretty good defense, still can get better, but overall very pleased.”
Photos: Urban Meyer returns to sideline for Ohio State Buckeyes https://t.co/1oRzKFj3vd— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) September 22, 2018
The reserves, who handled all of the second half, were burned for a 39-yard pass from Banks to Darnell Mooney and a 38-yard run by Corey Dauphine.
“It’s a much different game today than it will be next week,” Meyer said. “Today was wishbone football, so you didn’t have the sacks, the pass rush, which is a big part of who those guys are. I thought they played well. They played only 30 minutes of football and we got ’em out. So the challenge of challenges is coming up.”
Meyer was referring the Nittany Lions, a top 10 team that is always tougher to beat under the lights at Beaver Stadium than anywhere else.
Penn State is 4-0 after winning at Illinois on Friday night and will host Ohio State for a 7:30 showdown next Saturday night.
Superstar running back Saquon Barkley is gone, but senior quarterback Trace McSorley leads an offense that is still loaded with playmakers at running back and receiver.
The Nittany Lions defense may be smarting a bit after getting gashed for 245 yards on the ground by the Fighting Illini, who led 24-21 midway through the third quarter before giving up 42 unanswered points.