Special Consideration

By Kyle Rowland on October 30, 2012 at 10:00a
36 Comments

In May, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said talent alone can lead teams to eight- or nine-win seasons. Discipline gets you a few more, but something special and magic has to take place for 11 or 12 wins. 

OSU is pointing in the right direction.

Nine game into his first season at Ohio State, Meyer has the Buckeyes entering that special territory at 9-0. Whichever way they’ve needed to do it, the Buckeyes have won. The season started with a rout of Miami (Ohio), but it wasn’t a trendsetter. The main theme of the year has been the closeness of many games.

The defense has bent plenty, though it’s starting to become more upright, and quarterback Braxton Miller has evolved into Ohio State’s do-it-all force on offense and an escape artist. Even backup quarterback Kenny Guiton has gotten into the act.

“This is a special team,” Meyer said. “They’re fighting for each other. It’s a refuse-to-lose type atmosphere. Some of us have seen teams that play really well and they’re blowing teams out all the time. We’re not that type of team and I can give you 150 reasons why.  However, we’re a bunch of guys that work really hard, blue-collar approach, that show up every Tuesday and want to get better. You don’t want anything else as a coach.”

Uncertainty surrounded Ohio State as it entered a season that includes the lack of a postseason. Not only that, but the Buckeyes would be implementing a new offense. A soft schedule meant eight or nine wins was probable, but with three games to go, Ohio State is now favored to end the season undefeated. 

In March, Meyer referred to the offense as a “clown show.” The offensive line was not transitioning to the spread well, the quarterback was still playing like a freshman and no wide receivers were becoming a legitimate deep threat.

My, how times change.

Seven months later, Ohio State’s offensive line has turned into one of the best in the Big Ten and the Buckeyes’ top line in several years; Miller has eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark, run for 12 touchdowns and thrown for an additional dozen; a year after 14 receptions led the team, that number has been achieved by three different receivers who have 11 touchdowns between them. 

The veterans on the team have been big contributors in Ohio State’s return to national prominence after a one-year hiatus. They saw in the early part of their careers how winning teams operate and experienced that success. Knowing what it takes to build a winning product, the Buckeyes set out to do just that.

The Silver Bullets have been swarming lately.

“We put in so much work during the offseason and became so close,” fullback-turned-linebacker Zach Boren said of he and his teammates. “Things were so hard and miserable at times that you just came together as a team. Late in games when we’re down, someone makes a play. We have that fighting mentality that great teams have. I don’t know what it is. It’s remarkable.”

It has led some to compare the 2012 Buckeyes to the same Scarlet and Gray-clad bunch that won the national championship a decade ago. The biggest similarity is the knack for finding a way to win.

It started against California, when Miller connected with his favorite late-game target, Devin Smith, as the Buckeyes eked out a victory. The same duo hooked up in East Lansing for the game-winning touchdown. But the Purdue win served as a miracle that no one saw coming.

“It’s much easier for players and coaches to believe in something when they can actually see those results,” defensive line coach Mike Vrabel said. “We did it this way, we played this way, we prepared this way, and guess what? It worked. So it's real easy to say let's continue to do it. When you don't have the success, it's harder to say let's keep doing it.”

Ohio State can’t play for a national championship and technically isn’t even in line to win the conference title. It can capture the Leaders Division championship, however. With three games left in the regular season, it appears that the Buckeyes will win at least a share of the championship.

For some, though, the postseason ban is inconsequential.

“We feel that if we go 12-0, we’re the best team in the country because no one beat us,” defensive back Adam Griffin said.

Anyone that’s seen Alabama and Ohio State play this season would think otherwise, but without them playing each other, there’s little in the way of Ohio State’s claims.

Braxton Miler makes it easy to come to work.

Saturday night in State College was the Buckeyes’ biggest test of the season: a road game in a hostile environment against a team that was victorious in five consecutive games. Penn State’s momentum and confidence level led many to pick the upset. But once the scoring began, Ohio State had no problem dismissing the Nittany Lions.

“To go on the road, to face adversity, face injuries, to have an offense on your team that's not doing very well, and your defense just scores and hangs in there, you’re dealing with special teams woes because new guys are playing new positions every darn week,” Meyer said. “I see some of the intangible locker room conversations, and I see a team that is a special team.”

Meyer’s past success spoke for itself. But to be in this position with three games to play may be his best coaching job yet. It’s already turning into one of the most fun seasons Meyer has had in 11 years as a head coach.

Losing affects few coaches in a more negative manner than Meyer, as evidenced by his health concerns at Florida. The pressures that come with the job overwhelmed Meyer and led him to stepping back and reevaluating how he went about things.

At Ohio State, Meyer has kept that appropriate balance between football and family – keeping it in centerfield as he says. With nothing but wins on his resume, it’s been almost all smiles from the head coach.

“I try to live in the moment,” Meyer said. “I love coming to work. I love walking in the team meeting room. I guess that’s rewarding. You really enjoy what you’re doing. I see development. 

“There is nothing better. Other than winning a game, I’m putting that right there, and I’m seeing it happen every day here, which is why we all love to do it.”

There are no stragglers on the team anymore – the players have bought in. The offensive system works and the defense has continued to improve. Move a senior captain from offense to defense – no problem. Boren has now developed into one of the Buckeyes top defensive threats. In three games at linebacker, he already has 20 tackles. The memories of yesteryear and all the troubles that came with it now seem so far away.

“I think it’s a testament to the commitment of a group of guys that refuse to lose a game,” wide receivers coach Zach Smith said. “There’s a lot of stuff we can improve at every position in every phase. But what you love to see is that teamwork and that cohesion of players that go out and win the game because they have the passion for each other and this university and ultimately the team.”

36 Comments

Comments

carence's picture

And I said, Urban's coaching could get us at least 8 wins.

LouGroza's picture

It would be interesting to get Shelley Meyers opinion of the B1G fans as opposed to SEC fans. After Urban took this job she said in an interview that the southern fans were very over the top. By that I think she meant they killed trees to even the score and crazy fanatical crap like that. I am sure she and the family endured quite a lot in Florida. Anyway, would like to hear her comparison. Oh, and Urban wants to win as bad as anyone. He will definitely reach across the checkerboard and rip out your throat to win. Love it.

Hoody Wayes's picture

Mrs. Meyer is an Ohio girl. I bet she's just glad to be home. 

bassplayer7770's picture

Does anybody have an animated gif of Mrs. Meyer after the MSU game?  I saw it on TV, and that was priceless.

BuckeyeEd's picture

When this Team Finishes 12-0, and I believe they will, I will buy the 2012, 12-0 Ball Cap (And there will be one) and I will cherish it for many years to come. No Big Championship, No Bowl (BCS or otherwise) and no Crystal Ball....Does not matter.....They will be perfect and it will be the first Hat I grab for all my special Buckeye occasions and it will be more sacred than all the championship hats in the years ahead (and there will be Championships)....does not matter....my favorite will be that old 2012 hat....Perfect Team.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

I'm all over that hat too my friend.   For Ohio!

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

MediBuck's picture

I've been telling all my friends that I can't wait to buy 12-0 memorabilia from this season. I think an astute point is brought up that this OSU team has flaws, but as long as we go undefeated, I'll always have a romantic vision that we could have won the NC. No BCS to ruin that plot, no nervous bowl week of preparation questions, the sweet sweet taste of a Michigan win still on the lips...

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

RBuck's picture

I can't wait to see Delaney cry when we're 12-0.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

One Bad Buckeye's picture

+1 - I'll toast to that!

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

QBYBuckeye's picture

Wouldn't it be nice to see Linebacker Zach with the ball in his hands headed for the goal line?

New York Buckeye

JasonBuck's picture

I have to say, regardless of how we end this season, this has been one of the more fun tOSU football seasons I can remember (since obviously 2002).  Definitely would lead you to believe next year (and the coming years of Urban F'ing Meyer's tenure) that tOSU has a verrryyy good shot at being in the NC conversation year in and year out.

Doc's picture

I totally agree Jason.  This team is fun to watch.  They seem to be having fun with each other and it spills over into the games.  They also seem to be a good group of guys.  Likeable.  To me that ads to the enjoyment.  It doesn't hurt that Urban seems to enjoy his job as well.

"Say my name."

One Bad Buckeye's picture

I was just thinking this.  It's cool to see him smiling and cheering a lot on the sidelines.  

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

buckeyeEddie27's picture

I love seeing the record grow from 6 to 7 to 8 to 9-0 but at the same time it's a little sad.  This season and this team have been so fun to watch it will be a real bummer when it's all over.   Oh well, so here's to 12-0 and a run at the big one next year!

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

sarasotabcg's picture

How many games have we heard announcers commenting on how tired our opponents look in the 4th qtr? Thank you offseason training program!

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

How can you not be pumped about the Buckeyes after reading that article!!!  This is only the beginning and I have to laugh knowing that coming out of the darkest period in OSU history during my lifetime, we are at the start of one of the greatest periods in OSU history!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

btalbert25's picture

This is why I really think the team will end up going undefeated.  I never would of believed it a couple months ago, but they really do refuse to lose.  Other teams in the past that I believed had a shot to go undefeated weren't as closely knit as this one is.  They really do play for eachother.  They may play poorly some games, but I don't think they'll completely fall apart or have one of those setback games like the 2007 team of even a Purdue Harbor type of game.  I just have a feeling this group is going to get it done. 
This is the 2nd season this team has played a lot of close games.  They've lost those games and this year won them all.  That experience for the sophomores and juniors coming back next year, as well as the freshmen on the squad this year is so important.  The future is really bright. 

LouGroza's picture

How different a feeling when in tight games with this team as opposed to those over the past few years. The feeling of a loss coming in years past was consuming. With this team you know they will find a way to win regardless. Nice team to call ours. Thanks Urban.

btalbert25's picture

No doubt, it's nice to just have confidence they'll pull a game out.  After that Purdue game, I'll never question this team's ability to pull out a W.  The only time I'll doubt it is if the clock says 00:00 and they are down.

Poison nuts's picture

Word!

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

timdogdad's picture

having the team chemstry, comradarie, refusing to lose, playing for each other-those are traits of a championship team.   if we finish 12-0 the good feelings will just wash over this team all winter and into the spring.  and we'll see what it takes to stay at that level.  and i'm confident we'll stay at that level. 

joel121270's picture

It's funny how the comparisons that OSU would fail like DICKROD did with TTUN. While the D has had it's struggles that theory has long went out the door. DICKROD had a WV team that played no D, same in scUM, and I might be mistaken but in AZ as well.
Urbs always had stellar D's in Florida with the same system...
Look out boys we may be in for a wild ride...
 
Bring on 2013!!

tennbuckeye19's picture

I believe the comparsion you're talking about was strictly based on offensive systems. Urban and RR have similar offensive systems, but they have different philosophies on defense. Defense is a priority for Urban, while seemingly it is not for RR. 

Doc's picture

I believe we will be 12-0 at seasons end, I've said it since August.  My concern is not only the team, but the fans getting complacent.  I hope they are getting hungrier as the weeks tick off.  I don't need to see a loss against any of the three remaining teams.
We all know that Illi, Wisky, and AACC will give us their best shot.  I just hope we give them ours.  This team has taken on Urban's intensity and fire.  I don't see a let down coming.

"Say my name."

btalbert25's picture

I don't think this group will get complacent.  They want to finish 12-0 and they've been in enough battles to know it doesn't come easy.  They want that 12-0 record. The fans, meh, the 2 home games left are Illinois, which let's face it, the shoe doesn't need to be rocking for that one, and AACC.  There's no way if this team is 11-0 going into that game with everything surrounding that game, that the atmosphere won't be electric.  Honestly, it may be the most exciting crowd ever at Ohio State.  I truly think that day is just going to be unreal.  I'm really hoping to land a ticket to that game.  With it being senior day, honoring the 2012 team, defacto bowl game, possible undefeated season, and it's freakin The Game.  That crowd is going to be nuts.  Even if it is a noon kickoff.

Buckeye Beast's picture

12-0. I believe it will happen as I always have since the season began. Next year, we'll find a way to go all the way. We'll be better. But as for now, I hate Illinois & F#$# Michigan.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere, & Michigan still sucks

chitown buckeye's picture

It is interesting how the demeanor of the 11w community has changed from the beginning of the season. It felt like many of us were so consumed by the negativity from last years debacle that we lost sight of a proven coach and the seniors on this team. It felt as if we were playing for the National championship each week. We would win but that wouldnt stop us from pointing out every flaw from play calling, miss tackling, to the water boy's shoe's being untied. Which are legitimate concerns and we have a right to voice displeasure. However, it seems as if we have taken on a new demaenor now. One of very positive energy, everyone on here knows the flaws of this team. We see problems all over the place but instead of harping on those points we simply except that the coaches will fix them. It seems as if the majority of the 11w community are sitting back and enjoying the ride. Its fun and somewhat relaxing knowing we can go undefeated, not worry about how the BCS shakes out, or who wins the title. We can worry about all that next year but for now tip the cap to these players and coaches because they have righted what could have been a sinking ship!

"I'm having a heart attack!"

d5k's picture

To say that firing Fickell was premature would be quite an understatement.  We have good coaches, let's give them a chance to fix the problems (and let Meyer decide who will be on his staff).  We have a one-dimensional offense who is awesome at that dimension and a defense with huge depth issues and a new scheme.  Recipe to struggle some weeks when not expected but also to be capable of beating any team that they play, thanks to Braxton and some great coaches.

Larryp713's picture

I believe we have a great shot to go 12-0. Having said that, it would not be at all shocking to finish 10-2 or 9-3. That is why this year is so special. We should beat Illinois because they are just playing like a beaten team, but Wisky and Michigan will be tough. I honestly feel this team has turned a corner and will win out, but even if they don't, I really cannot remember being prouder of a football season. It is right up there with 2002 for me.

Respectfully,

Larryp713

Earle's picture

9-3 would be shocking to me, though I wouldn't have said so at the start of the season.  And I shudder to think of the commentary on this site if we lost to Illinois.

Italics are for emphasis.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Hopefully we won't be pissing and moaning about the refs, Emmert, and the world being against us and causing us to loss like those on a site that shall remain nameless but sounds like blackshoediaries

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

kgratz's picture

if THIS team goes 12-0 what will be the reaction if we lose a game sometime down the road?  I love the high expectations but how will a loss be handled?  lets say 12-0 this year, and then magic strikes twice, 14-0 NC next year, what happens if we actually lose i game?  
personally i think columbus blows up...

How Firm Thy Friendship

One Bad Buckeye's picture

NO WAY! I mean I'll be upset but as long as it's not a stupid loss to a bad team I think everyone will kind of take a deep breath and say: "Well that was fun, back to work" including Meyer.  IF and that's one big "if" Meyer goes 26-0 to start his tenure at tOSU I think the pressure of a streak like that starts to take it's toll and eventually you just want it to go away.  
Edit: I'm pretty sure if Meyer knew we were having this conversation he'd be tempted to smack us back into reality.  :)

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

Poison nuts's picture

Naw - a loss will be handled just fine should there be an NC in year two. People will be thrilled about the NC & plenty forgiving. Two losses on the other hand...

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

osubuckeye4life's picture

I've loved watching this team. 
They have their flaws but are not trying to be a team they are not. 
Also, they refuse to lose and have rallied around each other from their grueliing offseason.
I'll definitely buy some gear if they take care of business in these last three games.