COLUMBUS – When Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer looks at film of what former OSU defensive coordinator Chris Ash is doing in his first season as Rutgers’ head coach, he sees a lot of the same things Ash liked to do as OSU’s co-defensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s our defense. It’s our defense, and I mean exactly,” Meyer said at his weekly press conference on Monday.
What Meyer left unsaid, though, is that while Ash’s schemes might look similar, the talent level at his disposal at Rutgers is very different than it was at Ohio State.
So, the matter of how much Ash knows about Ohio State or how much OSU knows about him might not be all that much of a factor on Saturday when No. 2 Ohio State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) opens its conference schedule against Rutgers (2-2) at noon at Ohio Stadium.
Ash was hired at Rutgers in December to replace Kyle Flood, who was fired after a controversial season in which several players were arrested on felony charges and he was accused of pressuring faculty members to give players better grades.
Rutgers was 4-8 overall and 1-7 in the Big Ten last season. Flood was 27-24 in four years as the Scarlet Knights’ coach.
Rutgers (2-2 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) opened the Big Ten part of its schedule with a 14-7 loss against Iowa last Saturday.
Ash has several other former Ohio State personnel on his staff, including offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer, who was a graduate assistant at Ohio State, and strength coach Kenny Parker.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett expects Rutgers to do some things that look familiar and other that are not so familiar.
“I think he’s going to get them ready to go play against us. It will make us kind of comfortable because we have seen it (Rutgers’ defense) before, but I know he’s going to throw in some new wrinkles we haven’t seen before, too,” he said.
Running backs coach Tony Alford said, “There is some familiarity. But at the end of the day you have to go out and play and players have to make plays. You have to put your players in position to make plays. Go play this game. Let’s not make it more complicated than it is.”
Ohio State had last Saturday off after beating Oklahoma 45-24 on Sept. 17. The Buckeyes rank third nationally in scoring at 56.7 points a game and are tenth in total offense at 545.3 yards a game.
Rutgers will be without two of its top players, wide receiver Janarion Grant and defensive end Quanzell Lambert, who suffered season-ending injuries against Iowa.
INDIANA KICKOFF SET: Ohio State’s game against Indiana at Ohio Stadium on Oct. 8 will have a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
The game will be on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2.
BRUCE WILL DOT “I”: Former OSU football coach Earle Bruce will dot the “I” in Script Ohio on Saturday.
Typically, that honor goes to a junior or senior Sousaphone player in the OSU marching band, but there have been several times when a celebrity, university official or former coach or athlete has done it.
Some of the celebrities who dotted the “I” in the past include Buster Douglas, John Glenn, Bob Hope, Woody Hayes and Jack Nicklaus.
“It’s great and I’m very happy for him,” Meyer said.
INJURY REPORT: Receiver K.J. Hill has a high ankle sprain and will miss several weeks.
Linebacker Justin Hilliard is out for the season after suffering a torn left bicep. He had a torn right bicep last season and also has had surgery for a torn meniscus since coming to OSU as a 5-star recruit.
Linebacker Dante Booker, who started the season opener against Bowling Green but has been sidelines by a strained medial collateral ligament since then, is probable for this week, Meyer said.
How much he might play or whether he will regain his starting position from Jerome Baker is uncertain, though.
COACHING CHANGES: When Meyer was asked about LSU coach Les Miles being fired despite winning a national championship and winning 77 percent of his games as the Tigers coach, he brushed it off at first but then said the life of a college football coach has become crazy.
“Just beat Rutgers. I’m just worried about this place here,” Meyer said. But then he added, “It’s crazy and it’s getting crazier. For those who much is given, much is expected. With all this great support and great rewards, also comes a lot of pressure.”