Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Tuesday briefing: Stage set for QBs
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick-hitters from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer's weekly appearance on the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday.
Double trouble: The threat a running quarterback poses is no secret to Ohio State.
Instead of just figuring out ways to use his own, though, this week Urban Meyer has one on the other sideline to account for as well.
Taylor Martinez hasn't used his legs quite as frequently as he did a year ago, and the Nebraska junior has been more efficient as a passer so far this season. But that doesn't make him any less dangerous on the ground, which the Buckeyes know all too well given the role Braxton Miller plays for them.
"They’re both guys that are arguably the best [multipurpose quarterbacks]," Meyer said. "[Martinez] is a dynamic runner, he’s one of the best runners I’ve ever seen at the quarterback position. I’ve been watching him for several years now, and we have a lot of respect for him.
"I think you’ll see two of the finest athletic quarterbacks in America on the field this weekend."
They'll obviously have to take turns, but the diverse sets of skills Miller and Martinez bring to Saturday's top-25 clash could set the table for an electrifying offensive showcase.
Miller has emerged as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate thanks to his 15 total touchdowns, an average of 115 yards per game on the ground that ranks second in the Big Ten and his team's perfect start through five games.
But Martinez has been just as impressive at times. He has a 92-yard touchdown run to his credit already this year on the ground, and the threat of his rushing ability has only been aided by his improvements through the air, as he's completed 68 percent of his passes with only one interception.
"The challenges are obvious," Meyer said. "He’s throwing the ball much better than he did a year ago. Any time you have a guy who can beat you with his legs but also go over the top, that’s an issue."
Getting defensive: The transition on defense lately has meant a shift to a more aggressive approach and extra blitz packages.
And while that style clearly worked against Michigan State, the Buckeyes might have to go the other way with a more versatile offense coming to Ohio Stadium this weekend.
"A couple weeks ago we made more emphasis on getting after the quarterback instead of sitting back into drop-eight mode like we were early in the year," Meyer said. "Michigan State, our defensive coaches felt like we could load the line of scrimmage and take a few more chances blitzing than we have in the past.
"We are evolving as a defense, but this isn’t the kind of offense we’re going to face this week where you want to blitz too much because of all the option."
Aside from the dual-threat ability of Martinez, the Huskers also have two rushers averaging more than 90 yards per game and have three different receivers with double-digit reception totals -- which makes it tougher to narrow the focus defensively.
That doesn't mean the Buckeyes are likely to revert completely back to the conservative approach in coverage, but they'll apparently be a bit more selective as they try to stay unbeaten at the halfway mark of the season.
He said it: "The praise they received was for more than just one drive. They ran the ball against one of the nation’s best run defenses for 200 yards. Braxton did a lot of that, but also we just ran the ball well. We blocked people and did a good job, and that was a much-maligned unit, several new starters. They see they’re getting ready to face another good defensive line, that [praise] was just for that game and we move on." -- Meyer on his offensive line not letting the collective Player of the Week honor inflate its ego