Gunner Kiel Finds A Home

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
5:01
PM ET


video

After bouncing around from school to school, once-heralded recruit Gunner Kiel has finally found a landing spot. As Brian Bennett found, the new Cincinnati quarterback is thriving in his new home.

Conference call: Best of the Big Ten

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
3:00
PM ET
Another week, another Big Ten coaches' teleconference, and we offer up some of the highlights.

By the way, if you’re not following us, what are you waiting for? Follow along at @ESPNRittenberg,@BennettESPN, @ESPNJoshMoyer, @DanMurphyESPN, @MitchSherman and @AWardESPN.

 
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If all Urban Meyer wanted was something to feel good about and reassure him progress on defense was being made, the Ohio State coach has plenty of numbers he can pull to set his mind at ease.

The Buckeyes just pitched a shutout before their bye week. They’ve already intercepted five passes. Only two teams in the nation are allowing fewer yards per game through the air.

Those things may be encouraging, and Meyer certainly isn’t complaining considering Ohio State’s horrendous pass coverage a year ago effectively cost them a Big Ten title and a shot at a national championship. But those statistics provide something of a false positive, because the reworked secondary of the No. 22 Buckeyes hasn't really been tested yet.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete"This is the test," Urban Meyer said of Cincinnati. "This is the one that we're all shooting for."
But Cincinnati figures to give them that test on Saturday night at Ohio Stadium.

“Here we go,” Meyer said. “This is the test. This is the one that we’re all shooting for.

“They’re really good at throwing the ball, and it will be a challenge for us. But I really can't make an evaluation yet after the first three games.”

The signs appear to be pointing in the right direction under new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, who was brought in to lead the overhaul of a coverage unit that finished No. 110 in the nation last season against the pass.

Ohio State was routinely torched down the stretch a year ago, barely surviving a shootout against Michigan before falling to both Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl thanks largely to breakdowns in the secondary. Meyer didn’t hesitate in the aftermath of the losses that snapped a 24-game winning streak to express his frustration with a defense that wasn’t playing as aggressively as he wanted, and after Everett Withers left following the season to take over at James Madison, it was up to Ash to dial up the intensity and deliver what his new boss wanted in the secondary.

So far, he appears to be delivering that with a system that relies on simpler schemes, man coverage and players with fearless mentalities who don’t back down from the challenge of intense competition on every snap.

“We did make improvement, but again, we’ve got a long way to go in a lot of areas,” Ash said. “It’s hard to answer [how much improvement there is], because I don’t really know. I was hoping that we would be good, but I was hoping that we would be undefeated at this point and we’re not.

“Where are we at right now? We won [against Kent State], we made improvement and that’s all we can ask for.”

Kent State is a far cry offensively from Cincinnati, and the Buckeyes haven’t pretended otherwise since pitching a shutout ahead of their off date and turning the focus to one of the nation’s most dangerous quarterbacks and a talented receiving corps.

Ohio State had already snuck a peek at Gunner Kiel and the explosive Bearcats before taking on Kent State, watching the redshirt sophomore’s debut in a Friday-night game in which he carved up Toledo for six touchdowns. He was impressive again in another win last weekend against Miami (Ohio), and his hot start and the strength of the Cincinnati offense is clearly not a secret to the Buckeyes.

But with just three weeks of somewhat worthless data on hand, Ohio State is actually welcoming a measuring stick for the revamped secondary. That way Meyer might finally have something worth evaluating to put his mind at ease -- or maybe some evidence that last year’s problems haven’t yet been solved.

“We’ve got some things to work out, but we’re getting there, real close,” safety Tyvis Powell said. “I’m just excited about playing the game, and we’re ready to just display to the world that the pass defense has improved.”

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
10:30
AM ET
video 
The Big Ten went 12-1 this past weekend and hosted some big visitors on the recruiting side. Penn State and Nebraska both had big weekends, while Michigan is still looking for answers.

Big Ten morning links

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
8:00
AM ET
For this edition of the morning links, I bring you three bite-sized opinions:

1. Michigan should look to backup QB: Shane Morris doesn’t deserve to start, per se, but Devin Gardner has shown he’s not the answer to Michigan’s woes. Actually, he’s a big contributing cause. Against two Power-5 opponents, Gardner has led the Wolverines offense to exactly zero touchdown drives. Can Morris possibly fare any worse? Hoke should announce the starter later Tuesday. If he picks Gardner, this has to be the dual-threat’s last chance. But if U-M wants to turn things around now, maybe it should stop starting the same guy over and over again and expecting different results. You know what they call that ...

2. Ameer Abdullah still the best back in the Big Ten: Apologies to Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, who made enough highlight-worthy plays just on Saturday to fill up a season-long reel. But Abdullah has still had the more impressive season by far. Gordon put up video game numbers against Bowling Green, but Abdullah grinded it out against a good Miami run defense for 229 yards. Abdullah’s “worst” game came against McNeese State when he turned in this play. Don’t worry; you really don’t have to click that link because you’ve probably seen that crazy play -- where he breaks at least five tackles en route to a 58-yard TD -- at least a dozen times already. Gordon is great but, so far this season, Abdullah is better.

3. NCAA president Mark Emmert can’t admit when he’s wrong: Can we make something clear here? Whether or not you agreed with the NCAA’s initial move of sanctioning Penn State, it seems as if we can all agree that the NCAA handled the situation in a manner that was far from ideal. But, of course, the NCAA’s tone-deaf president was asked Monday about his handling of it all -- and, of course, disagreed. Emmert’s response: “I think that has gone really well.” It looks as if we need to talk, Mark. If you dole out a punishment and reduce said punishment twice in two years, then you probably missed the mark initially. Heck, you’re basically admitting you missed the mark with actions instead of words. ESPN.com’s own Ivan Maisel wrote something to that effect as well -- nearly a full year ago. The more Emmert talks, the more it becomes harder to believe him.

Now on to the links ...

East Division
  • Penn State is starting to receive votes in the top 25 -- but who's not voting for the Nittany Lions?
  • Indiana coach Kevin Wilson knows his team has to back up the win against Missouri.
West Division
  • Jake Rudock was listed as the starter on Iowa's depth chart Monday morning, but Kirk Ferentz will undoubtedly be asked about the brewing QB controversy Tuesday.

Early Offer: What a win for Wilson 

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
11:00
PM ET
Missouri and Indiana often tangle on the recruiting trail, but now Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson has a big victory to recruit against the Tigers with. Plus, UCLA and Notre Dame are locked in a battle for the nation's top tight end prospect.

[+] EnlargeKevin Wilson
AJ Mast/Icon SportswireKevin Wilson and Indiana hope to get a recruiting boost from Saturday's 31-27 win against Missouri.
1. Indiana's 31-27 victory against No. 18 Missouri this past Saturday is the type of win that can go a long way on the recruiting trail. Because of its location, Missouri is one of the few SEC schools that actively targets players in the Midwest, and it is quite common for the Hoosiers and Tigers to tangle over players in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and even in St. Louis. For the most part, Mizzou has had its way with IU, but now Hoosier coach Kevin Wilson has a breakthrough win to recruit with. As one Big Ten recruiter told me on Monday, "that's the type of win that can change recruits' minds."

2. On Monday RecruitingNation released the latest edition of the Recruiter Power rankings and UCLA’s Adrian Klemm came in at No. 2 on the list. A big reason why Klemm is ranked so high is because he was able to land ESPN 300 tight end Alize Jones, the No. 1 tight end in the country. However, there’s some legitimate concern in Westwood that Jones could end up at Notre Dame. A source indicated the Bruins are doing everything they can to "fight off Notre Dame's advances." Jones continues to say he’s still with the Bruins and is only looking around at the Irish as a security blanket, but insiders believe the interest is much more than just that.

3. What an interesting few days it’s been for Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon offensive tackle Branden Bowen. On Saturday, Bowen, the No. 5 player in Utah, committed to the Utes to give Kyle Whittingham a nice in-state recruiting victory. Then hours later on Sunday, he tweeted he had picked up an offer from Ohio State, a school he admitted he was hoping to receive an offer from earlier in the process. It will be interesting to see if the Utes can keep Bowen on board, or if the Buckeyes' offer is too tempting to pass up.

.

Social Studies

Often players link their highlight videos on their social media accounts, but you almost never see them posting their grades or test scores. So give Alabama commit Christian Bell a whole lot of credit for posting his ACT score for everybody to see. It's the type of highlight that also should be cheered.

Meyer stands behind Noah Spence

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
2:02
PM ET
[+] EnlargeNoah Spence
Zach Bolinger/Icon SMIOhio State coach Urban Meyer says suspended defensive end Noah Spence is getting treatment and working out on his own.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After briefly returning to the practice field last week, Ohio State defensive end Noah Spence is no longer participating in team activities while awaiting word on an appeal of a second failed drug test that currently has him suspended indefinitely.

While the All-Big Ten performer is facing the permanent loss of his eligibility due to conference rules, Spence isn't facing dismissal from coach Urban Meyer in the meantime.

"He's not going to practice now," Meyer said during his Monday news conference. "That was just last week. He's not practicing, getting full-time treatment and working out just for his well-being.

"What is a zero tolerance [policy] when an addiction has set in or whatever? The decision, when you harm yourself or harm your team, we wrestle with those all the time. I've been criticized for many, many years about how I treat these guys. I treat them like they're my kid, and I'm not a big fan of dismissal. I don't try to do that very often. It's got to be a severe one where you're hurting someone else."

Spence's situation does harm the Buckeyes on the field, leaving them without a pass-rusher who leads the team with eight sacks.


(Read full post)


B1G early look: Setting up Week 5

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
2:00
PM ET
For the most part, the work outside of the Big Ten is done. And after an awful lot of lows, the league finally hit on some high notes before the fun really begins with a Saturday loaded with conference games.

The Big Ten's grace period to celebrate a successful Saturday is over, though. It's time to move on and set the table for what should be an entertaining weekend.

Five things to watch in Week 5

1. What's next for Michigan?: There was only one team in the league not celebrating Saturday night, and the driving rainstorm wasn't what cancelled the party for Michigan. The Wolverines are still a mess on offense, seemingly incapable of finding the red zone and strangely allergic to maintaining possession of the football, and those problems have left Brady Hoke in a tough spot heading into Saturday's Big Ten opener with Minnesota at the Big House. There doesn't appear to be an easy fix at this point, though a change at quarterback is probably where Hoke will start. But no matter who starts under center, the Wolverines are facing their first legitimate challenge for the Little Brown Jug since losing it in 2005 -- and watching the Gophers put their hands on it would only make life tougher for Hoke.

2. Heisman hype: The campaign has been steadily picking up steam for weeks for Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, but he might finally have company in the Big Ten now that his buddy Melvin Gordon has belatedly thrown his hat in the ring. The Wisconsin star definitively put his slow start behind him with a record-setting outing Saturday against Bowling Green that produced five touchdowns and 253 yards on just 13 carries, and he's got a chance to keep the momentum going as the Badgers wrap up nonconference action at home against South Florida. Meanwhile, Abdullah can try to maintain his position as the Big Ten's current top candidate as the Huskers play host to Illinois and its porous defense.

3. Bucks back to work: After a rocky training camp and some continued bad news mixed in with an early loss, Urban Meyer hasn't exactly had the best month. The Ohio State coach isn't getting Braxton Miller back this season and it seems unlikely he'll ever have star defensive end back with the program either, but that hasn't done much to change his outlook with a team that can still compete for a Big Ten title and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff. Beating up on Kent State won't do much to impress the selection committee, but it gave the Buckeyes and a young roster a jolt of confidence heading into their first off date last weekend. They're facing a dangerous Cincinnati passing attack Saturday, and how Ohio State's rebuilt secondary handles that challenge could reveal just how realistic the odds of contending in the conference really are at this point.

4. Welcome party: Maybe it's still taking some getting used to, but Maryland's first chance to dive into conference play might help in making it seem more real that it's really a member. After all, what's more Big Ten then a trip to Indiana? In some ways, both the Hoosiers and Terrapins qualify as pleasant surprises for the league at this point, even though both come into a matchup that has the makings of a wildly enjoyable affair with losses on their resumes. Maryland's defeat makes a bit more sense given the way West Virginia has battled with Alabama and Oklahoma already this season, while Indiana's shootout loss at Bowling Green might remain a head-scratcher for a while. Kevin Wilson's club did bounce back in a major way with its upset win at Missouri, but with home-field advantage this week against the newcomers, count this as another win that Indiana likely needs if it's planning on heading to a bowl game.

5. Wild or mild?: If Northwestern was looking to once again establish itself as a threat in the Big Ten after its disastrous 0-2 start before a bye week, grinding its way to a 24-7 win over Western Illinois wasn't the best way to do it. Going on the road and knocking off unbeaten Penn State? Now that would certainly send a message. It's a tall order for Pat Fitzgerald's club given the various issues that have plagued the Wildcats dating back to the middle of last season, and the Nittany Lions seem to be enjoying the opportunity to play without NCAA sanctions having over their heads lately. The home crowd is likely going to be rocking on Saturday, and Penn State can jump out to an early lead in the East Division thanks to a schedule that already allowed them to play a league game this month. Both teams still have something to prove, but it's the Wildcats who have their backs pressed to the wall even though it's still September.

Early Offer: Tough times ahead for UF? 

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
10:45
PM ET
Recruiting in the SEC is already difficult, but the difficulty in Gainesville is about to be ratcheted up even more as rival recruiters are already pressuring Florida recruits to reconsider. Plus, it was clear Saturday night that Oregon needs help on the offensive line, but the good news is that help is on the way.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big Ten bowl projections: Week 4

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
8:00
PM ET
Those in Ann Arbor will understandably disagree, but Week 4 was a very good one for the Big Ten. The league went 12-1 and won several games in impressive fashion. When almost every team handles its bid-ness, there's not much shuffling in the bowl projections.

The big development this week is Indiana's return. Seven days after an all-too-typical, potentially bowl-crushing loss at Bowling Green, Indiana recorded its biggest win in years, shocking No. 18 Missouri on the road. The Hoosiers are back in the projections and could rise higher in the coming weeks if they can build on the Missouri win. For now, we have them receiving an at-large bowl invitation.

Michigan moves down after its loss to Utah. The Michigan brand still carries weight in the bowl pecking order, but this Wolverines team could have a tough time reaching the six-win mark if its offense doesn't dramatically improve. The Wolverines are last nationally in turnover margin at minus-10 through four games. Yuck.

For now, we have Michigan essentially staying home for bowl season in Detroit.

New Big Tenners Maryland and Rutgers, meanwhile, move up after impressive starts.

Expect more shuffling next week as Big Ten play begins in full force. Several matchups could affect the order, namely Minnesota visiting Michigan and Indiana visiting Maryland.

To the projections ...

Chick-fil-A Peach/Cotton/Fiesta/Orange: Michigan State
Chick-fil-A Peach/Cotton/Fiesta/Orange: Ohio State
Capital One: Penn State
Outback: Nebraska
National University Holiday: Wisconsin
TaxSlayer/Franklin American Mortgage Music City: Iowa
San Francisco: Maryland
New Era Pinstripe: Rutgers
Quick Lane: Michigan
Heart of Dallas: Minnesota
At-large: Indiana

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 4

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
2:00
PM ET
video

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" he was depressed while coaching at Florida in 2009, lost 37 pounds and was "mentally broke."

Meyer was suffering from chest pains and self-medicating for his stress.

"Now I'm taking two Ambiens," Meyer told the HBO show. "I would drink a beer on top of it, just to get some sleep. Not many people know that.

"And I go from 217 pounds to 180 pounds. I lose 37 pounds."

That all occurred when the Gators were undefeated in 2009 -- until losing to Alabama in the SEC title game.

After the loss to the Crimson Tide, Meyer was admitted into a hospital with chest pains.

"They said, 'We don't believe it was a heart attack.' " Meyer said. "So, OK, 'Well, what is it?' 'We don't know.'

"And then you start thinking, 'There's something wrong with me mentally, you know? What is going on here?' "

Meyer said he was depressed.

"I thought I was dying," Meyer said. "Mentally, I was broke."

Meyer said after Florida won the national title after the 2008 season he didn't -- and couldn't -- enjoy the victory. He began recruiting literally minutes after the 24-14 win over Oklahoma in the BCS title game in Miami ended.

"I was in a panic situation," Meyer said. "We just won it. We got to do it again. I close the door. And I started just recruiting. One of my friends came and said, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'Enjoy, what's wrong with you, man? Enjoy this.' I tried."


(Read full post)


video

Holly Rowe takes a look at how a little creative scheduling allows Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer to balance his personal life with his coaching life.

UA jersey tour: Eric Glover-Williams

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
9:40
AM ET
Eric Glover-Williams is one of many talented players to come from Canton McKinly high school in Ohio. Glover-Williams was presented with his Under Armour All-America jersey on Friday and thanked his family and those past players from his school for helping him earn this honor.

Glover-Williams mentioned his current teammates, but also former standout Mike Doss as someone who he looks up to and someone who has given him advice along the way. They share the same high school and will soon share the same college as Doss played for Ohio State and Glover-Williams is committed to the Buckeyes.

"He played for McKinley and then went to be a Buckeye and then the NFL to play for the Colts. He won a state championship, a national championship and then he also won a Super Bowl,” "lover-Williams said. "He came to my game last week, and he and my dad are really close friends. He always tells me going to Ohio State, it’s not really about playing football, it’s about getting your education. When you go to Ohio State you’re set for life, so just do what I have to do."

Glover-Williams expressed his excitement to be able to go against some of the top talent in the country in the prestigious game, and shared some facts about himself that the fans might not know.

.

If you could start a team with any other player in your class who would it be? I would probably start my team with Reggie Rogers. He’s a good receiver, he has nice speed and I’ve known him for a long time.

What is your earliest football memory? Probably playing at Fawcett stadium when I was younger, playing for a championship. Around the age of eight, it was our midget league. It was my first year of tackle, played for my dad’s team, we were called the Bears. We played the Cowboys in the Championship game. I played running back, back then I was bigger than everyone.

Which football player did you idolize growing up? Tyrann Mathieu, just because he had a struggle. Everyone doubted him and he came back and now he’s doing his thing in the NFL. Also, I would like to say Mike Doss, even though he’s not playing anymore.

If you could take on any pro player in any sport who would it be? I’d like to go against (Jadeveon) Clowney. It would be fun to go against him. I would try to make a move on him, quick. I’d be coming out of the backfield.

Why do you wear the number you wear? Tyrann Mathieu is one of my favorite players, so I like the number seven. The number seven is in the bible, so that’s another reason why I wear the number seven. I'll talk to Ohio State about it, it’s either seven or two because Mike Doss wore number two.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I’m not sure. I play baseball. I work at the airport, I cook for all the restaurants in the area. I cook anything from hamburgers to taco salads. I like to make quesedillas.

.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Should Fan Who Ran On Field Have Lost Scholarship?
Jemele Hill and Michael Smith discuss the fourth-year engineering student who lost his scholarship after running onto the field during an Ohio State football game and was body-slammed by assistant coach Anthony Schlegel.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video