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CANTON -- Urban Meyer called in sick.
Greg Schiano, sent to the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Meyer's place, said all is well with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Two days after Ohio State's spring game, defensive coordinator Schiano said he expects a better year than the two he spent in a big NFL job.
"I was 11-21 as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," he said Monday in Tozzi's on 12th, "so this is as close as I'm going to get to the Hall of Fame."
Meyer brought in Schiano for the 2016 season, which produced an 11-2 record.
Schiano said restrictive tackling rules made the 2017 spring game "a two-hour root canal" for defensive coaches, but he seemed eager to sink his teeth into the 2017 schedule.
"It's going to be a great year," he said. "We have some guys to replace, that's for sure, but I look at it the other way.
"We have the best defensive line in college football. Everyone returns. We literally have four defensive ends that will be first-round draft picks, if, God willing,they stay healthy.
"We have a defensive tackle, Dre'Mont Jones, who I think is going to be just about unblockable."
Schiano sees enough linebacker talent to compensate for the loss of Raekwon McMillan to the NFL draft. As to fretting over heavy losses in the secondary, he says, "Not so fast."
He said Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade were graded as "the top two (incoming freshman) cornerbacks in America." He said Damon Arnette, a nickel back last year, has had "a great spring."
The Buckeyes have been choppy at quarterback since Cardale Jones caught fire late in the national championship season of 2014.
"It starts and ends with J.T. Barrett," Schiano said. "I know people are quick to say, 'Oh, he didn't have the kind of year 'Watch him. I've never seen him throw the way his been throwing this spring.
"We do have the right quarterback."
Schiano said All-American Bill Price, a senior from Austintown Fitch, figures to anchor a strong offensive line at center.
He touched on former McKinley star Eric Glover-Williams' move to offense.
"He's playing that 'H' position where he goes in motion and runs option routes and reverses," Schiano said. "As you guys remember, he's as quick as a hiccup.
"I was coaching him on defense last year. He does some exciting things. He could be in that mix."
Schiano was living on Tampa Bay and decompressing from his Buccaneers experience when Meyer recruited him. They have become confidants.
"Coach has been there for five years," Schiano said. "He said, 'We're getting stale. We need to change some things.'"
Kevin Wilson, 55, is the new offensive coordinator after spending the last six seasons as head coach at Indiana.
Ryan Day, 38, was on Chip Kelly's 49ers staff last far, in charge of Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. Now he is the Ohio State QBs coach.
"J.T. and Coach Day have tremendous chemistry," Schiano said.
Billy Davis, 51, has spent 25 years as an NFL assistant, including 2011 and '12 as linebackers coach in Cleveland. Now he is Schiano's right-hand man on the Ohio State defense.
The 2016 Buckeyes outscored their first four opponents 228-37, then ran hot and cold.
Schiano said a young team "galvanized" with a 45-24 win at Oklahoma in Game 3. He said a 30-23 overtime win at then-No. 8 Wisconsin was "a growing moment," and that a 30-27 overtime win over Michigan taught him about being a Buckeye.
"When Curtis (Samuel) crossed the goal line for the win," he said, "that was truly a moment of exhaustion. Urban literally face planted on the field.
"I was one of eight coaches up in the press box, and in Ohio Stadium, that's a mile high.We're jumping on each other and wrestling and singing. We fall into a blind dividing us from another room. When the blind moved, standing right there watching is the Michigan radio crew.
"Dan Dierdorf is looking right at us like we're animals in a cage. And you know what? We didn't care."
A 31-0 loss to Clemson in the national semifinals was one of Ohio State football's all-time buzz kills.
Schiano said the game violated Meyer's "nine strong" mantra alluding to the assorted units that make up the team.
"After the game, Urban's leadership was so strong," Schiano said. "He kicked out everybody who wasn't essential personnel and made a statement that was very clear. We will be 'nine strong' in 2017.
"What happened out there doesn't happen to Ohio State. And it ain't gonna happen again."