COLUMBUS — If part of Urban Meyer’s role in the weeks leading up to Ohio State’s opener was to be the encourager in chief, it was no surprise he switched roles and became the voice of reason urging caution after the Buckeyes routed Bowling Green 77-10.
Before that game he talked a lot about OSU having a considerable amount of talent despite having only six returning starters.
But after Saturday’s big win and again at his weekly press conference on Monday, he tapped the brakes to try to slow down any runaway expectations.
“I think it was good. It wasn’t great. It was good. There were some disappointments,” Meyer said on Monday about his evaluation of how OSU played against Bowling Green after looking at film of the game.
“Only one (offensive) lineman graded out a winner. Our starting receivers did not grade out a winner. There’s some great teachable moments in there,” he said.
Tulsa, which won its opener 45-10 over San Jose State last week, is next up for Ohio State in a 3:30 p.m. game Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
With the help of a touchdown on an interception and another on a fumble recovery in the end zone, Tulsa took a 38-7 halftime lead over San Jose State. It finished with 512 yards total offense.
Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery is a former Baylor offensive coordinator who brought the Bears’ pass-heavy offensive philosophy to Tulsa.
Quarterback Dave Evans threw for 4,332 yards and 35 touchdowns last season, but had only 198 yards on 12 of 23 passing in the San Jose State game. Running back D’Angelo Brewer (164 yards on 22 carries, three touchdowns) led the way in that game for Tulsa offensively.
Meyer said Tulsa “will be more of a test” for OSU’s defensive backs than Bowling Green, whose starting quarterback James Knapke completed only 12 of 33 passes for 110 yards and was intercepted twice.
“I think Bowling Green’s personnel is going to be fine, they’re just not as experienced as the year before. But this one rolling in here (Tulsa) is more experienced and very talented at this point,” Meyer said.
Apparently that message has already been delivered to OSU’s defensive backs.
“I feel like we expected a better opponent (against Bowling Green),” cornerback Gareon Conley said. “We’re not going to talk down opponents, but I feel like against Tulsa we’re going to get more experienced people because I know a lot of people left from Bowling Green.
“Tulsa has an experienced quarterback and they’re faster than Bowling Green,” he said.
Some other thoughts from Meyer:
• SPRINKLE OUT LONG TERM: Defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle had surgery to repair a torn patella tendon and is out for the season, as Meyer expected after Saturday’s game. Sprinkle probably would not be able to return for a bowl game, Meyer said.
Players like Robert Landers, Josh Alabi, Malik Barrow and Davon Hamilton might replace Sprinkle.
Another possible solution to Sprinkle’s absence would be to play defensive ends Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa more at an interior line spot, he said.
• BOOKER QUESTIONABLE: Linebacker Dante Booker, who left the Bowling Green game in the first half with a sprained medial collateral ligament, is questionable for the Tulsa game.
• PENTON ADDRESSES TEAM: Van Wert’s Joel Penton was one of three former Ohio State players, along with Butler By’not’e and Roy Hall, who talked to Ohio State’s team on Sunday.
• MORE MCLAURIN: Wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who caught one pass for 12 yards against Bowling Green, was impressive even though he did not show up big in the statistics, Meyer said.
“He’s going to play more,” Meyer said. “He played 30 plays but he graded very high. He’s doing very well for us.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau