Meyer's tinkering pays off in secondary

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
6:32
PM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer's specialty is offense. But when he picks up on something on the other side of the football, he's going to let his assistants know what he wants.

After watching Orhian Johnson in practice and on special teams, the Ohio State coach made his feelings known about the senior defensive back and his desire to get him on the field. The defensive staff complied, and the results were obvious with Johnson inserted into the nickel package and lending a hand in two turnovers as the Buckeyes knocked off Central Florida 31-16 on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

[+] EnlargeOrhian Johnson
Greg Bartram/US PresswireOrhian Johnson received more playing time against UCF and made two big plays.
"I was very involved in that decision," Meyer said. "I see, he’s just so talented, and he’s another guy that’s been around here for a while. Production hasn’t been what it needs to be, but he earned that right in practice, did some really good things on special teams.

"We felt like we needed more production out of that nickel spot."

The Buckeyes got plenty from Johnson, who tipped a second-quarter pass that deflected into the hands of cornerback Travis Howard and later snagged his own interception to snuff a late drive into the red zone that could have tightened up the game.

Linebacker Etienne Sabino added another pick for the Ohio State defense, which now has five overall after two games and has provided a big lift to the offense by supplying great field position. And while Johnson's own pick didn't do that, his big play might have been the most critical of the bunch so far as he preserved the two-score lead with his grab at the 9-yard line.

"It definitely felt good to get out there and help my teammates win," Johnson said. "Any chance possible, I just want to go out there and help them.

"With our defense, we kind of thrive in those [pressure] situations. ... And it definitely felt good to get my hands on the ball."

Doing it twice obviously felt even better. And it offered a bit of validation for Johnson's coach in the process.

Austin Ward | email

Ohio State/Big Ten reporter

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