COLUMBUS: Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer has been enjoying watching Florida Gulf Coast’s NCAA Tournament run.
He has a vested interest because daughter Gigi plays volleyball for the Eagles.
Meyer said Gigi might attend Friday night’s regional semifinal between the Eagles and the University of Florida at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“That’s incredible for that school,” he said about FGCU’s upset victories over Georgetown in the second round and San Diego State in the third. “I don’t think they were even Division I when she first got there. And that coach [Andy Enfield] — they’re good. I watched them the other day. That’s not like smoke and mirrors. They are really good players. That’s going to be a really good game [with Florida].”
But Meyer’s loyalty ends there, since he was the coach at Florida from 2005-10, winning two national championships.
“Always a Gator,” he said with a slight grin. “Always a Gator.”
Speaking after Tuesday’s indoor workout at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Meyer said he was pleased with many players and positions as the Buckeyes approached the midpoint of spring workouts.
But he remains concerned by the fill-ins for the departed John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Nathan Williams and Garrett Goebel on the defensive line and Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino at linebacker.
“I’m still worried about defense,” the second-year coach of the Buckeyes said. “I still keep looking for Goebel and Simon and those guys up front. They’re getting better though: Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence. There’s some talent. You just wish there were one or two older guys up there to help them out.”
The Buckeyes, coming off a surprising 12-0 season, have completed six of their 14 practices leading up to their annual spring intrasquad scrimmage on April 13 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Everett Withers, Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator, said he feels a sense of urgency to come up with some solutions to finding replacements.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier has been slowed by injury. Former blue-chip recruit Curtis Grant, a disappointment through his first two years with the team, is being counted on to have an impact. If the current players don’t answer the bell, the coaching staff might rely on incoming freshmen to fill spots.
“We just have to keep going,” Withers said. “Before you know it, spring will be over with and some of those younger guys will be coming in here and we’ll be seeing how they do. I think the [experienced] guys understand the time frame.”
Ohio State went through a very physical practice on Tuesday, which Meyer attributed to the fact that much of it was dedicated to short-yardage scrimmages resulting in one-on-one battles.
Carlos Hyde, established as the top running back, made way for Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn, who are battling for the second-team tailback job. Another candidate, Jordan Hall, has a slight hamstring injury and was attending to academic considerations. While starting quarterback Braxton Miller watched most of the scrimmage, third-team quarterback Cardale Jones got a lot of work during the scrimmage, as did defensive lineman Chris Carter. The coaching staff is trying to groom all of them for playing time after not playing much in their careers.
Meyer said he’s been splitting his time equally watching the offense and defense.
“I think the fact our staff’s been together now, there’s very good chemistry in that room and I’m watching both sides,” he said. “I’m real anxious about the development, like everybody, of the defensive front seven.”