COLUMBUS – When Urban Meyer said he was not surprised by the success of so many young players at Ohio State this season at his weekly press conference on Monday, it was nothing new.
Meyer has a long history of avoiding the word “surprised” when asked to evaluate the success of a player, a unit on his team, an opponent or an entire league.
— On Sept. 16, he said he was not surprised by the success of the Big Ten’s football teams in their early part of their schedules.
— On Nov. 28, 2015, he said he was not surprised by Jim Harbaugh’s success in his first season at Michigan.
— On July 18, 2015, he said he was not surprised by Braxton Miller’s decision to stay at Ohio State instead of doing a graduate transfer.
— On Jan. 6, 2015, he responded to question about whether he was surprised by players like Darron Lee, Eli Apple, Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott playing well in their first year as starters by saying he was not.
— On Aug. 15, 2013, he said he was not surprised by the success his former assistant coach Charlie Strong was having as Louisville’s head coach.
“I don’t like the word ‘surprise.’ That’s disrespectful, realizing that we have talented guys,” Meyer said on Monday.
Ohio State, with 16 first-time starters, is the youngest FBS team in the country.
But that mostly inexperienced team is 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten and ranks third nationally in scoring (57.0), fourth in total offense (576.3) and third in total defense (237.8).
While the first takeaway from OSU’s 58-0 win over Rutgers last week in its Big Ten opener was that the Scarlet Knights were completely overmatched, the Buckeyes did produce a dominating performance.
And the depth of talent Ohio State showed in that game went beyond the 16 first-year starters.
Players like Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Binjimen Victor scored touchdowns, or in Victor’s case, looked good in their first game action.
Meyer held Victor up as an example of how much a young player can improve.
“If you said three weeks ago he was going to play, he had a hard time lining up, didn’t go hard, and kind of quit in the middle of plays. Now, all of a sudden, he’s a guy. He’s going to be a hell of a player here,” he said.
“The young players, you really enjoy coaching them. I think it’s great. I’m excited to get out for another day of practice,” Meyer said. “Once, as they say, the game slows down, you start to see some terrific players develop.”
Ohio State’s next test on the field will be against Indiana at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
The Hoosiers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) are coming off a 24-21 overtime win over Michigan State last Saturday night.
No surprise, Ohio State’s players say they’re not surprised by how well Indiana appears to be playing.
“I wasn’t really surprised (by Indiana beating MSU),” OSU linebacker Chris Worley said. “In college football, anybody can get beat any Saturday. That’s how it goes down.” Notes:
BIG TEN AWARD: Freshman running back Mike Weber was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after rushing for 144 yards in OSU’s 58-0 win over Rutgers last Saturday.
TEAM AWARDS: Meyer named Ohio State’s entire defense as the Players of the Game on that side of the ball and said Barrett and Weber were the Offensive Players of the Game.
PRAISE FOR BAUGH: Meyer said tight end Marcus Baugh “played his best game as an Ohio State Buckeye” against Rutgers.
The sophomore tight end caught only one pass in that game but it was a 16-yard touchdown catch.
INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Dante Booker, who has not played since suffering a sprained MCL in the opener against Bowling Green, is “probable” this week, Meyer said.
K.J. Hill (high ankle sprain) is “getting close” and Demetrius Knox (broken foot) is out for several weeks.
STATS CLARIFICATION: According to Ohio State’s record book, J.T. Barrett broke Bob Hoying’s record of 57 touchdown passes in his career last Saturday.
In reality, Terrelle Pryor also threw 57 TD passes in his career. But he is nowhere to be found in the record book.
After Pryor and four other Buckeyes were discovered trading memorabilia for tattoos, Ohio State vacated its wins from the 2010 season in July 2011. It also deleted any 2010 stats or accomplishments for the five players involved after they were suspended. But it did not vacate all statistics from that season.
The five players were: running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams, linebacker Solomon Thomas and Pryor.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.