By Jim Naveau
COLUMBUS – There was no announcement but there was no attempt to hide it, either.
After some offensive struggles against Hawaii and Northern Illinois, Ohio State has gone back to calling plays the way it did last year.
When Tom Herman was OSU’s offensive coordinator the last three seasons, he called the plays from the press box.
After Herman became the University of Houston’s head coach, Ed Warinner became the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator. Because he is also the offensive line coach, he stayed on the sideline and for the first three games made the play calls from there.
In the last three games, though, coach Urban Meyer has returned the play calling to the booth upstairs, where co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck, in his first year on the coaching staff after four years as Nebraska’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, delivers the call.
“Ultimately, right now the voice is mine,” Beck said earlier this week. “I don’t know that it is anything to take away from any other coach. I’m upstairs, I see things. I’m away from the crowd, the players, the noise. You don’t get the emotion necessarily drawn into it like you do when you’re down on the sidelines.
“It’s a process. It’s by committee. Ed Warinner and I have always worked well together and we continue to do so. Between plays, we get suggestions from (wide receivers coach) Zach Smith, (running backs coach) Tony Alford, (tight ends coach) Tim Hinton and Coach Meyer,” he said.
“It’s been interesting to say the least. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable and understanding things better. We seem to be operating a little bit smoother.”
Ohio State has averaged 509 yards total offense a game since the change after getting 363 yards against Hawaii and 318 yards against Northern Illinois in the two games right before it.
INJURY REPORT: OSU’s defensive backfield depth has taken another hit with back-up safety Erick Smith suffering an ACL injury.
Meyer announced Smith’s injury on Wednesday but offered no specifics on its severity or how long he might be out.
The back-up safeties behind Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell are now redshirt freshman Malik Hooker and Jarrod Barnes, a walk-on transfer from Louisville.
Wide receiver depth is also be an issue. Parris Campbell is questionable after aggravating a knee injury that kept him out of two games earlier this season and Meyer said on Monday that Dontre Wilson “tweaked” his long term foot injury against Maryland.
NO REDSHIRT FOR BAKER: Freshman linebacker Jerome Baker could see his first action of the season on special teams on Saturday night, Meyer said on his weekly radio call-in show on Thursday.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES NEED UPGRADE: Defensive tackle starters Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt have played up to expectations but Meyer is not satisfied with what OSU has gotten from their back-ups.
“The last two years we’ve been kind of short there. Those guys need to get going,” he said. “They’re good people but we need to get more production out of them.”
STATUS QUO FOR KICKERS: It’s possible last year’s kicker, Sean Nuernberger, could regain the job he lost to Jack Willoughby, but it won’t happen this week, Meyer said.
Willoughby has hit 6 of 9 field goal attempts but has missed his last two kicks and has not hit from more than 31 yards.
“He’s got a great leg but not the consistency we need,” Meyer said.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I think I’d rather stick a rusty nail in my heel than have somebody ask me about the quarterbacks on those call-in shows,” Meyer said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.