Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is not taking the "easy" way out when it comes to answering for the Buckeyes' underachieving defense.
Following a performance in which they were torched for 512 yards in a 35-28 win over Cal, Meyer was asked if the defensive problems are more rooted in poor tackling or poor schemes. (Check out full video of Meyer's press conference above.)
"It's too easy to say it's just bad tackling," Meyer said at his Monday press conference. "There were some scheme issues too that we addressed last night. Some of it is poor tackling too, but to just blame it on poor tackling is unacceptable. I don't remember seeing an Ohio State defense give up that many yards. And we need to get it fixed, or we will lose a game."
Meyer said one of the adjustments the Buckeyes will make going forward is making sure they don't get beat as frequently on the boundary.
Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell was asked the same question as was first posed to Meyer: Is it more tackling or schemes?
"Believe me, I laid awake wondering Saturday night," Fickell said. "You could say, 'This guy had him' or this or that, but I know it's not a lack of effort. We have to continue to stress the things that we're supposed to do. It comes down to leverage. We've got to make the ball go east-and-west and we've got to leverage the football."
Meyer was asked how the Buckeyes can address something such as tackling during the season. Usually those kind of fundamentals are worked on during the spring.
"Instead of one day a week (of going live) we'll probably go two now," Meyer said. "It's all about fundamentals."
The Buckeyes (3-0) dropped from 12th to 16th in the AP poll this week. Not many players were considered "champions" -- as Meyer classifies them -- in the Cal game.
Johnathan Hankins was one of the notable exceptions. He was OSU's defensive player of the week.
"He's playing at a very-high level," Meyer said.
Meyer mentioned that safety Christian Bryant would have perhaps been not only a champion but the defensive player of the week if he didn't miss a key tackle.
But it doesn't stop there for Smith. He was also the offensive player of the week and the special teams player of the week. To say he's come of age would be a vast understatement.
Although Meyer tipped his proverbial cap to players such as Smith and Hankins, he was more focused on the negatives. Hey, that's one thing he has in common with fans.
"We won a game even though we went against everything we preach," he said. "Field position, we haven't blocked a punt yet this season, we're not dynamic on offense."
* Meyer really likes junior left tackle Jack Mewhort.
"He's probably our best lineman," Meyer said.
* Meyer on the "perfect" or "ideal" day for Ohio State's offense:
"Rush for 250, pass for 250 and complete over 70 percent of our throws."
* Carlos Hyde will miss the UAB game this week with a knee injury. Meyer is not sure when he will return this season, although feels good about his progress.
* Meyer says OSU will need Braxton Miller to carry the ball a lot each game. Miller's 12 carries against Cal were a season low.
"Is 12 the perfect number? I don't know, a lot depends on what the defense gives you," Meyer said.
* Meyer is happy with Miller's progress this season.
"He's a much-different player than he was a year ago," Meyer said. "And that's coming from Stan Drayton who was on the staff last year. (Miller) made a couple of grown-man throws (against Cal)."
Meyer repeatedly noted that Miller's biggest improvement has come as a practice player.
* Miller's 72-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Smith was actually supposed to go to Philly Brown.
"That is a sign of a quarterback maturing," Meyer said.
* Offensive coordinator Tom Herman on what he is pleased about regarding the offense:
"I'm happy with our effort -- especially from our guys up front and the guys on the perimeter," Herman said. "Happy with growth of wide receiver group. Not at the level we need to be at, but we're growing and getting better.
"I said to someone after the game on Saturday that when we're good, we're pretty dang good. We just need to be good more often. We need to figure out as a staff how to put our kids in good positions so we can be consistent."
* Herman on Miller's progress:
"He is seeing the field better," Herman said. "He communicates with me on the sideline maybe better than I expected. (Against Cal) he said once, 'Coach, they had too many guys.' So, at least he saw that. That's a start. He saw there were too many guys and we had to get out of that play."