By Matt McCoy
To listen to Urban Meyer following the first spring practice click here:
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is typically more hands off when it comes to coaching defense, stepping in only when he feels it's necessary. After the 2013 season ended with the Buckeye defense allowing 116 points in its final three games, it's necessary.
In practice one of the spring, Meyer spent significant time observing and talking with the defense, which features two new assistants in defensive line coach Larry Johnson and secondary coach Chris Ash. Meyer's message to the defense this spring is simple.
"I want them to go hard and not be worried about mistakes," Meyer said. "I felt like we were a 'what if' defense last year. 'What if they did this?' I saw it from our coaches and saw it from our players. What I'm looking for is simplicity...four to six (seconds of effort) and (effort from point) A to B. If you can't give us that, then we've got to move on and get another player who will."
Opportunity is certainly there for new players to make their mark on the defense, especially at linebacker and defensive back where the Buckeyes lose future NFL draft picks Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby.
Among the more ballyhooed newcomers is incoming freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who finished high school early and participated in first Ohio State practice Tuesday.
"I was really impressed with Raekwon today. He did a really good job," Meyer said. "He moved around and was very mature. For a shorts practice, he did enough that I was very positive with what I saw."
While admitting it's hard to determine anything from one practice, Meyer said there were others on defense that made a positive first impression.
"Darron Lee's out there playing walk-out (linebacker) and was impressive," Meyer said. "I like our safeties, Vonn (Bell), Tyvis (Powell) and Cam Burrows. They're quick-twitch, trigger guys back there and I think Doran Grant is a different player than he was a year ago. I'm seeing much more aggressive play by him."
Meyer Feeling Good
Meyer was at practice only days after a medical procedure to drain a cyst near his brain. The coach said he's "not great--but I feel good."
It's a condition Meyer said he's dealt with for several years but recent headaches forced him to have treatment.
"I'm not going to be ignorant (with my health) like I was before," Meyer said. "If something happens I'm going to get it fixed. I'm not going to just put it off, put it off, put it off, so it reached that point."
WTVN's Joel Riley had Riverside Methodist Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Brett Fleming on Wednesday morning to describe Meyer's procedure.
To listen to Joel Riley talk with Dr. Brett Fleming about Urban Meyer's procedure and recovery click here:
"It is impressive that he's back to work so quickly," Fleming said. "Typically about one in 1,000 individuals will have these (arachnoid) cysts. Many of them are asymptomatic and do not require treatment, however there is the occasional cyst (like Meyer's) which causes severe headaches and can block the normal flow of fluid around the brain and those do require an intervention."
Meyer said he does not have any limitations after the procedure, with one exception.
"I just have to watch how long I scream," Meyer said. "I'm not kidding you. And how long I blow the whistle...I'll be back after spring break (next week). You'll hear it again."
Quarterback Braxton Miller won't be taking any snaps during the spring after surgery last month on his right shoulder but that doesn't mean he has the next month off.
Miller was at practice, on the field, behind the offense. He's been outfitted with a microphone and is being asked to read the defense and communicate what he sees and where the ball should go.
"I think he understands his weaknesses. It's verbal and keeping his eyes on the secondary," Meyer said. "The good thing is you can do that--Obviously it would be better if he could throw-- but if you saw him he was every snap right behind (the offense) and I watched him. He's engaged and he's got a lot riding on this now."
While a healthy Miller would be preferred this spring, Meyer said his senior Q.B. should not be affected this fall, as long as he puts in the necessary work this summer.