Mohamed Barry referred to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer as “the godfather of the spread offense” Tuesday night.
That line of thinking from the Nebraska sophomore inside linebacker, and that respect shown for the No. 9 Buckeyes’ leader ahead of Saturday evening, clearly trickles down from first-year defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
After all, Diaco spent most of his availability Tuesday evening listing the ways Meyer makes life difficult for coaches and players tasked with defending the Buckeyes.
“He’s one of the founding fathers of spread, before people called it spread,” Diaco said. “I referred to it in the write-up for the players as not a spread offense, I wrote it as the spread offense, and I did that purposefully. Coach Meyer’s offense, from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida to Ohio, has made people famous. It’s made players famous. It’s made coaches famous. His coaching tree is all around the country, they’re all basically running that offense — whether they tweak it a little bit, most don’t, they run Coach Meyer’s offense — and it’s pretty awesome.
“I’ve unfortunately had a chance to see it many times.”
Two RBs progressing, two safeties sit out: Running backs Tre Bryant (knee) and Mikale Wilbon (left ankle) both practiced again Tuesday after getting at least some work Monday.
Neither Antonio Reed (knee) nor Aaron Williams (neck), both junior safeties, practiced Tuesday.
Wilbon had a heavy tape job on his left side, but said Monday he was feeling much better than Saturday, when cutting caused him pain and kept him from playing.
Inside linebacker Dedrick Young was dressed for practice but had a large, club-like cast on his right hand. Outside linebacker Tyrin Ferguson (turf toe) was in pads. He has not appeared in a game since going down late against Northern Illinois on Sept. 16.
Senior right tackle David Knevel (right foot/ankle) continues to practice and appears to be moving closer to a potential return to the lineup. He played on NU's field goal shield Saturday but has not started the past five games at right tackle.
Different feel for Ozigbo: Junior running back Devine Ozigbo welcomed back some company early this week with the returns of Bryant and Wilbon.
“It’s definitely going to help us having that depth and having those backs that can spell each other so nobody will really ever be too out of gas,” Ozigbo said. “That definitely helps the team as a whole.”
All three of the backs have started games this season — Bryant against Arkansas State and Oregon, Wilbon against Northern Illinois, Rutgers and Illinois, and Ozigbo against Wisconsin — and all three could potentially be available together as early as this weekend.
“The reps are a little different,” Ozigbo said of practice. “I don’t know how to describe it, really. We don’t know what it’s going to translate to and we don’t know — the coaches haven’t really explained what’s really going on (with a rotation).”
Diaco says ugly tape has use: It’s somewhat surprising every copy of NU’s 62-3 loss at Ohio State last fall hasn’t been thrown in the trash or deleted from the hard drive.
Diaco said he and his staff have watched it, however, even though the Blackshirts are running a completely different defense in his first season here.
“We try to consume everything we can, just to pick up any tidbits we might be able to pick up,” he explained. “It’s not like as a staff we’re not going to try to watch everything we possibly can. You might see something you didn’t see — a play, a formation, a shift, a trade, a hand signal, a different tempo — any myriad of different things. I don’t think burying your head in the sand is a positive.”
As for the players watching it, though, Diaco said, “We have to have an art form there and be very crafty."
Bunch being Barrett: Andrew Bunch is not J.T. Barrett. He’s playing him this week for NU’s scout team, though, and Diaco said the 6-foot-1 sophomore from Thompson Stations, Tennessee — who has never seen live action here — is doing a good job trying to emulate one of the most decorated signal-callers in Big Ten history.
“Ohio State’s offense is hard for our look team to simulate,” Diaco said. “That makes sense, right? Anyway, our look team quarterback is a pretty good runner. So he does a nice job running. He doesn’t necessarily run like J.T., but not many do. He does a real fine job for us.”