Tag Archives: Urban Meyer

Ohio State football 2014: Preseason thoughts

The dawn of another Ohio State football season is upon us, and 2014 figures to be an unpredictable year with so much change on both sides of the ball.

Most indications are the DNA is going to be different with the offense and the defense, one change being personnel-driven and the other caused by extreme struggles of a year ago. Both ways, Ohio State is going to have to count on a new cast of characters to carry out what is in all likelihood a plan that is at least somewhat different than it was last year, for better or for worse.

Preseason practice at Ohio State. The Schottenstein Center is in the background.
Preseason practice at Ohio State. The Schottenstein Center is in the background.

Offensively, Ohio State has the best player in the Big Ten back to trigger an attack that is probably going to look more like Urban Meyer and Tom Herman intended it to when they arrived than it has for the past two seasons. They want to have playmakers all over the field, not strictly smashing people up the middle.

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Urban Meyer on Ohio State-Michigan State (and Michigan)

Monday in Chicago at the first of the Big Ten football media days, the head coach of Buckeyes was asked his thoughts on the Nov. 8 clash with Michigan State in East Lansing, a game getting more preseason hype at this point than the traditional regular-season ending clash with Michigan at Ohio Stadium.

“If we take care of business, it will be real big. But we’ve got some things in the way before we get there, so if we do our job it could be a real big game,” Meyer said. Big Ten logo

The natural followup was about the state of the “rivalry” between the Buckeyes and Spartans, the two teams that clashed in the Big Ten football title game last year and are considered the top two teams in the new Big Ten East Division this year.

“When I was at Ohio State back in the mid-80s they beat us at Ohio Stadium, so there’s a great rivalry already there. You’ve got to be clear, though, there’s one rival and that will never change. However, Wisconsin became a very big game and then obviously this one’s a huge game, and it’s a credit to both schools that they’re good programs, but there’s one rival.”

Ohio State football recruiting continues to spread nationwide, but Ohio not being left behind

Ohio State picked up a pair of verbal commitments Wednesday morning, first four-star linebacker Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati St. Xavier then four-star defensive end Jashon Cornell of St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham. 

While Hilliard’s hop on board highlights one issue of interest in regards to recent recruiting (Ohio State in Cincinnati), Cornell’s commitment has its own significance.  The 6-3.5, 270-pounder is in line to be the first player from Minnesota to pick Ohio State since Willie Mobley in 2008 and only the third since 1988 (but probably much longer). When eventual All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis signed with Ohio State in 2005, he was believed to be the first scholarship Buckeye football player from the Land of 1,000 Lakes since the great Sid Gillman in the early 1930s. Relationships Lead Cornell to Buckeyes - recruiting - Scout

But we’re getting at a larger trend here.

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Meyer mines Cincinnati for top linebacker prospect for Ohio State

Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati St. Xavier is the 11th verbal commitment for Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class and the second linebacker, joining Nick Connor of Dublin Scioto.

Buckeyes Land Hilliard - ohiostate - Scout

He is the seventh recruit from southwestern Ohio in Urban Meyer’s three-plus years as head coach of the Buckeyes and the third from Cincinnati, joining Adolphus Washington (Taft) and Sam Hubbard (Moeller). That makes a pair of Greater Catholic League pickups for Meyer in as many years with Hubbard having been the top-rated player in the state last year.  Continue reading

Are 5-star recruits worth the hype?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is a source of conversation from time to time on message boards such as “Ask the Insiders” at BuckeyeSports.com, and it seems as though every year around National Signing Day you can find a new hot take about how recruiting rankings are overrated because not every five-star prospect becomes an All-American and plenty of four- and three-star players turn into big stars.

Comparing Careers: OSU Five-Star Recruits - ohiostate - Scout

So I figured it was time to take a look at the issue, at least from an Ohio State point of view.

Here’s what I found: Comparing Careers: OSU Five-Star Recruits – ohiostate – Scout.

Yes, the five-stars tend to outperform their lower-rated counterparts, but the degree of superiority actually turned out to be higher than I might have expected. And that was without making the same compromises in terms of personnel losses or even recruiting home-state heroes as opposed to national stars.

Ohio State spring football reactions: Offense

Evaluating the offense the same way as the defense is hardly fair considering all of the injuries that beset the Ohio State scoring unit, but there were some lessons to take away from the spring nonetheless.

For one thing, the depth the Buckeyes were thought to have at running back is real. Ezekiel Elliott showed he brings a very enticing package of size and skill to the position. A smooth runner, he seems like the perfect back for this offense. I like the way Warren Ball keeps his feet moving and slides through holes, and Bri’onte Dunn leaves no doubt the physical ability is there if he can bring consistency to the table. Ditto Rod Smith, who could be the best of all of them but can’t seem to keep himself on track.

Then of course there is Curtis Samuel. Even with the unprecedented success of Carlos Hyde last season as a power back, Urban Meyer does get enamored with little guys who can go, doesn’t he? Samuel runs strong for his size, but speed and agility are the name of the game for him. It will be interesting to see if they carve out a role for him this fall.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman mentioned at one point the staff has come to like having a power back, which was new for Meyer’s offense since it was developed at his previous coaching stops, so you can bet they want to maintain that facet, but it’s alway nice to have options. Continue reading

Overheard at Ohio State football March 25

Cleaning out the reporter’s notebook after Urban Meyer and Tom Herman met with the media in Columbus yesterday. 

URBAN MEYER 

Ohio State’s head coach was asked how the new Chris Ash-Luke Fickell collaboration on the defensive coaching staff is going and he said well.

Losing Vonn Bell for the spring was a setback, but they have three safeties they feel good about who are practicing.

Urban Meyer meets with local media in Columbus.
Urban Meyer meets with local media in Columbus.

Asked about Dontre Wilson, he said the sophomore is the starting H wide receiver, taking over for Philly Brown.

Meyer thinks Braxton Miller is absorbing what they want him to as he is sidelined during practices, but he isn’t sure until he can test him out.

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Ohio State Football: When 24-0 becomes 24-1

So nearly a week has passed since Ohio State lost 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. The end of football season always comes about suddenly – like ejecting from a plane, it brings a floating feeling before landing somewhere that never feels quite as familiar as it should upon returning to ground level. Even though it was predestined to happen this week if not sooner, it still brings a shock to the system. 

I like to give life a few days to get back to normal, but then again sometimes I wonder if football season is the norm and the rest is just passing time.
What we learned last week: How hollow 24-0 can be, at least when it becomes 24-1.

Forgive me if this seems overly negative, but it is a hard conclusion to avoid when stepping back to assess the situation. 20131213-093830.jpg

The Buckeyes won all their games for two regular seasons, but they have no national championships or even Big Ten championships to show for it.

Yes, they can claim two of the three Leaders Division titles of all time (I think there’s even a trophy for that), but has anyone ever considered those anything more than consolation prizes?

The past two seasons weren’t all for naught, of course.

When Urban Meyer officially took over in January 2012, Ohio State had lost four consecutive games, after all, and the Buckeyes’ reputation was in a state of disrepair.

Many felt it wouldn’t take a miracle to fix the program, but there was certainly work to do.

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On Jason Whitlock, Brady Hoke and Michigan football

This column from Jason Whitlock about the present and future of the Michigan football program is really interesting.

The Ohio State band performs Script Ohio at Michigan Stadium
The Ohio State band performs Script Ohio at Michigan Stadium

Maybe I shouldn’t have led with “Jason Whitlock” because I’m sure he is a divisive figure to some, but he often has an interesting perspective on a variety of sports topics whether you or I agree with him much. This piece on the Wolverines is unique because while Whitlock repeats something he’s never tried to hide – he loves Hoke and they have a personal relationship – he then proceeds to rip apart the state of the current Michigan team.

I agree with his observations about what is wrong with these Wolverines, though you probably won’t be surprised to learn I am far more skeptical about his ability to turn the program around than Whitlock. The author’s main justification is, “He’s Hoke,” which I guess could turn out to be all it takes but isn’t really based on what I’d call facts. Continue reading

Buckeyes Want To Add Read, Speed in 2013

Ohio State’s first season in Urban Meyer’s spread offense was a big success by most measures, but the head coach and his offensive coordinator want much more in year two. We examine how they can improve and take a look at a past example of an OSU offense going from good to great in its second season with a new attack – Scout.com: Buckeyes Want To Add Read, Speed in 2013