Kick­ing game gets spe­cial at­ten­tion

The Columbus Dispatch - - Sports Report High School Football Tennis Golf Soc - By Bill Rabi­nowitz bra­bi­nowitz @dispatch.com @brdis­patch

Ohio State’s spe­cial teams were so abysmal last week that when coach Ur­ban Meyer was asked Thurs­day on his ra­dio show about a de­lay-of-game on a kick­off, he started gush­ing about the Buck­eyes’ de­fen­sive line.

But that tonguein-cheek at­tempt at de­flec­tion aside, it’s safe to say that the kick­ing game has been given in­tense fo­cus this week as the Buck­eyes pre­pare for Ne­braska.

“The def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity is when you keep do­ing the (same) darn thing and you can’t get it done,” Meyer said on his ra­dio show. “We’re go­ing to have to make some ad­just­ments. If it’s per­son­nel or they’re not try­ing, you blow the whole thing up.

“But they’re good guys. We just have to make some coach­ing ad­just­ments.”

Meyer didn’t di­vulge any specifics about what might change. Both fresh­man Blake Haubeil and ju­nior Sean Nuern­berger have strug­gled with ac­cu­racy on kick­offs. The Buck­eyes use an atyp­i­cal strat­egy of stack­ing their cov­er­age to the left side of the field.

But if the kick is to­ward the mid­dle of the field, Ohio State is vul­ner­a­ble. Mary­land’s Ty John­son re­turned one for a touch­down last week.

On Tues­day, Meyer was asked whether he con­sid­ered hav­ing his kicker boom the ball deep for touch­backs that would give op­po­nents the ball at the 25.

“Sure,” he said. “(But) we have trou­ble kick­ing it through the end zone, too. If it was that sim­ple, I’d do that. It’s more com­pli­cated than that. You don’t fit a square peg in a round hole. You do what you can do. We’re try­ing to fig­ure out what we can do.”

Harsh words for of­fi­cials

Meyer is a pro­po­nent of the tar­get­ing rule as a way of cur­tail­ing head in­juries. But he was up­set at the tar­get­ing call on Den­zel Ward — later ruled to be in er­ror by the Big Ten — that re­sulted in his ejec­tion last week.

As for sym­pa­thy for the re­play of­fi­cial, for­get it.

“Ev­ery­body’s con­cerned about the of­fi­cials,” Meyer said. “Who cares about the of­fi­cials? Den­zel Ward had to walk off the field in front of 100,000 peo­ple and mil­lions on tele­vi­sion. I had to talk to his mom about it. She called me.

Wor­ley to re­turn

Meyer said that mid­dle line­backer Chris Wor­ley, who has missed the last three games with a foot sprain, will be back this week. Wor­ley did warmup drills last week but did not play.

“He’s a leader and a coach on the field and a mo­ti­va­tional guy,” Meyer said. “It’s great to have him back.”

“Peo­ple are wor­ried about the re­play of­fi­cial? I don’t care about the re­play of­fi­cial. The guy gets paid to go to work ev­ery day. Do a bet­ter job.”

[DISPATCH FILE PHOTO]

Ohio State coach Ur­ban Meyer is fo­cus­ing on problems with kick­offs and kick­off cov­er­age this week.

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