Meyer says this is ‘candy’ time for Buckeyes

Urban Meyer doesn’t know what to make of his current crop of

Buckeyes yet.

He believes he’ll have a better handle on them when practices

get harder. A lot harder.

”It’s the first day in pads. So right now this is all candy,”

he said, flashing a wicked grin. ”Come back in about a week and

there’s going to be people asleep on the mattresses (by noon). It’s

hard. Camp is terrible. But we’re not in camp yet. This is just

practice.”

That phrase – ”just” practice – must sound ominous to the

players already sweating through early workouts at Ohio State.

Asked if he preferred the weather be a little hotter instead of

so temperate, Meyer added, ”Just see what goes on next week at

Ackerman Field. It’s awful.”

The Buckeyes went through only their third practice on Tuesday.

There’s a lot that’s unknown about the 2013 team. But Meyer said he

already has a pretty good feel when it comes to several major

items.

– Concerning star players Bradley Roby and running back Carlos

Hyde, both in the doghouse after recent legal problems, both are

practicing with the team. Roby is awaiting the next step in the

process after being charged with misdemeanor battery after an

incident at a Bloomington, Ind., bar this summer.

”We’re just still waiting to find out all the information,”

Meyer said.

Police called Hyde a person of interest in an alleged assault

against a woman. The alleged victim declined to pursue charges,

with police ending the investigation. But Hyde was suspended for

the first three games by Meyer.

– Meyer said he likes the players he has. He just wishes he had

more of them in spots.

Of major concern is a lack of depth at both the linebacker and

offensive line positions.

”They just don’t look Ohio Stateish,” he said of the backups.

”Other positions, you can see three guys that are all good-looking

players. The O-line and linebackers are not where we need to

be.”

Moreover, Meyer said the problem probably cannot be fixed with

the people on hand.

”(Maybe) with another recruiting class,” he said. ”Yeah,

we’re going to have to hang in there for this fall and not get guys

hurt. Because we have depth issues there.”

– He is not concerned about the quarterback spot, where Braxton

Miller is coming back for his third year as the starter.

Miller has grown into the position. He was thrown into a bad

spot, learning on the job as a freshman during the tumultuous 2011

season when NCAA investigators were on campus, Luke Fickell was

filling in for the deposed Jim Tressel as head coach and there was

confusion everywhere. The Buckeyes went 6-7.

As a sophomore, Miller carried the team with his running ability

for much of the first half of the season, then reverted more to

passing in the second half as the Buckeyes pulled a 12-0 record out

of the hat. Still, he had his highs and his lows. There was and is

room for improvement, even for a quarterback who ran for 1,271

yards and 13 scores and passed for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns

with only six interceptions.

Ed Warinner, Ohio State’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive

line coach, said there are several things that jump out when you

look at Miller now.

”In terms of his technique, it’s his footwork and all his

techniques, his mannerisms, running the offense but setting his

feet, throwing, making his reads, keeping the ball in the right

position, his footwork on runs and meshing with the running

backs,” Warinner said. ”Technically, he’s a better player and

he’s much more confident and he’s much more of a leader and really

has a much better understanding the big picture of what’s going

on.”

– Meyer expressed satisfaction with the early returns on

Australian punter Cameron Johnston, a freshman running back and a

huge fill-in on the offensive front wall.

Johnston is a former Australian Rules Football player who is

being asked to step in for the graduated Ben Buchanan.

”He’s got a live leg,” the second-year coach said. ”He’s a

tremendous kid, 21 years old, so he’s not that 17-year-old,

wide-eyed guy that looks at you like, `What planet am I on?’ He’s a

fast athlete, so we might be able to do some things with him,

moving the pocket and so forth.”

Meyer called Johnston his ”No. 1 guy” at punter.

Dontre Wilson, recruited as a generic athlete in February, has

made an impression so far at a running back.

”He’s got something that we didn’t have last year and that’s

just `jets,”’ Meyer said, referring to the DeSoto, Texas, native’s

speed.

Up front, Taylor Decker has looked solid in his attempt to fill

the spot at right tackle. At 6-foot-7 and more than 300 pounds, he

made some headway as a backup last year during his first year on

campus and has continued to improve.

”I feel like I’m getting there now,” Decker said. ”I feel

really comfortable with the playbook, like I’m definitely able to

play full speed all the time.”

The Buckeyes opened camp Sunday and will slowly change the focus

from drills and learning the playbook to concentrating on the

opener Aug. 31 against Buffalo.

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:

http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP