Urban Meyer gained national notoriety as a great coach, not only as a master offensive guru, but even more as an evaluator of talent. A lot of men can coach. Few can evaluate talent and Meyer is known for it.
We all know how coach speak works, especially the week of a big game. The pressure is on the Spartans and Mark Dantonio closed down all player access and even taking away assistant coaches. Eliminating assistant coach access is unprecedented in the Dantonio tenure and demonstrating the magnitude of this game.
Urban Meyer sounded a lot like Mark Richt, Georgia head coach after last year’s Outback Bowl when speaking of the Spartans. He said of the heralded Michigan State defense, “Commitment to stop the run. I think coaching against Coach Saban for he’s a little more complicated in the pass defense. But very similar pro style, pound you on offense. Very similar I didn’t think about it, but very similar type mentality. Very sound kicking game which they do.”
When asked how good the Spartans are, Meyer could only compare them to what he knows and that is the SEC. His answer sounded a lot like Richt. “I can only compare to what’s the strongest conference I have a lot of experience in, one, and I can tell you this defense we’re getting ready to play will be in the top couple of that conference. That tells you the quality of player, number one. And then they do a good job on defense.”
The Spartan D isn’t the only thing on Meyer’s mind. He also sees a big RB in LeVeon Bell who concerns him. He said, “Once again, if it turns into a 200 yard rushing day where they just lock you into next week, then we’re going to lose the game.”
He thinks the Buckeyes style can handle them. He went on to say, “So I think our defense is kind of built for this. It’s not built for sideline to sideline thinking dunks. So that’s a challenge, the conversation that I have with our defensive staff as well. But your question was very easy to answer. That is a huge concern. That is the concern on that side of the ball.”
Finally he had to mention QB Andrew Maxwell’s favorite target in TE Dion Sims. “They’ve got a really good tight end. I guess he used to play basketball. I was watching him. Big guy, athletic, can make plays. So we have to and I was hoping I didn’t see what I saw. And it’s not because of lack of athleticism at receiver. “
Like the rest of the nation, Meyer couldn’t stop talking about LeVeon Bell. He added about his skill that, ‘He reminds me of Ron Dane even more athletic. A guy that’s extremely powerful, guy. Times up his blocks very well and runs through tackles and you see athleticism that usually people that size don’t have.”
He went on to add, “To tell you his athleticism, he returns punts as well. That might be the biggest punt returner in the history of college football. Bob, can you do a study on that for us. 250 pound punt returner. I mean, you have to be just think about that for a second go back and catch punts.”