Urban Meyer has been coaching in some level of football for 30 years, including 16 as the head of a Division I program. After five years in the SEC (at Florida from 2005-10) and during his current tenure at Ohio State, the head coach of the Buckeyes has seen his fair share of talent, no matter what position it is on the football field. With Ohio State set to take on No. 2 Penn State in one of the most anticipated matchups of the season Saturday afternoon, Meyer didn’t hold back on his praise for the Nittany Lions do-it-all running back.
Here’s what he had to say about Barkley while talking to the media during his weekly press conference Monday morning, per Eleven Warriors’ James Grega.
“He’s the best all-purpose guy we’ve probably faced in probably, maybe my career. He’s obviously a great running back. But they do a good job using him and creating matchup issues,” he said. “I’d be careful to say this, but he’s as good an all-purpose running back as we’ve seen. And that’s 30 years.”
Calling Barkley the best running back in college football this season is one thing, calling him the best all-purpose guy he has seen in his coaching career is a whole lot different, and it shows just how good Barkley really is.
Through seven games this season, he has totaled 117 carries for 757 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 32 catches for 448 yards and three touchdowns. The do-it-all back also has nine kick returns for 273 yards (30.3 yards per return) and one touchdown and can even throw the ball, too: Barkley is a perfect 1-for-1 for 16 yards and a touchdown as well.
For his efforts so far this season, Barkley is currently the overwhelming favorite to win the 2017 Heisman Trophy, with 4-to-7 odds, according to Westgate Las Vegas. If he has a dominate game in Columbus Saturday afternoon, he may just lock up the trophy with over a month to go in the season. Even if Barkley has a mediocre game, he will still most likely be the odds-on favorite by a large margin.
In case you’re wondering, Barkley has already went against the Buckeyes twice in his career. Although he was never the all-purpose back he has been this season, the running back had 26 carries for 194 yards in Ohio State’s 38-10 win over Penn State in 2015. In 2016, Barkley ran for 99 yards on 12 carries to lead the Nittany Lions to an upset win over the Buckeyes in Happy Valley.
For you Cleveland Browns fans who are miserable every Sunday, you may just want to keep an eye on Barkley. Not only this Saturday, but the rest of the season as well. In late September I started my “Saquon Barkley needs to be drafted by the Browns” hype train and it’s only gained steam since. The kid is good, but hopefully on Saturday, the Buckeyes (somehow) find a way to stop him and Penn State.
Ohio State has one of the best defensive lines in the country. That matchup between the D-line and Barkley will be a must-see for all football fans. There’s a good chance that the winner between that matchup will likely lead their team to a big-time win Saturday afternoon.
Along with such high praise for Barkley, Meyer also had plenty of positive things to say about Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, Nittany Lions’ playmakers, and their dominate defense as well. The head coach knows just how good Penn State is and he will have the Buckeyes ready Saturday at 3:30. No,w we just have to wait for arguably the biggest game of the college football season to kick off.