Assembling an SEC Team in Columbus

By Kyle Rowland on January 8, 2013 at 10:00a
87 Comments

If you watched the BCS National Championship Game on Monday, or any of the past seven title games, you may have noticed that SEC defenses tend to control the game. With the conference's national championship winning streak nearing a decade, catching up with them has never been tougher.

Shazier has it.

Thankfully, Urban Meyer knows the ways of the SEC. For six years, he led the Florida Gators and during those half-dozen years, Meyer brought two national championships to Gainesville. Now at Ohio State, he knows how to close to the gap on the SEC and put Ohio State in a position to compete with and beat teams like Alabama.

It all starts in recruiting and that may be what Meyer does best. In his first class, working on a shortened schedule due to Meyer becoming head coach in November, defense was a priority.

Last year’s class included defensive backs De’Van Bogard, Najee Murray, Tyvis Powell and Armani Reeves, linebackers Jamal Marcus, Josh Perry, Luke Roberts and Cam Williams and defensive linemen Tommy Schutt, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. Almost every single one of them contributed on special teams or defense at some point during Ohio State’s 12-0 campaign.

So far, 12 of the Buckeyes’ 21 verbal commitments for the 2013 class are defenders. Meyer is well on his way to building a defense predicated on speed, size and athleticism. A unit that does all those things not only makes it easier to win, but also to do so with consistency. 

Last weekend, Ohio State secured the services of two linebackers that chose Columbus over SEC teams, and both bring the characteristics Meyer seeks. Mitchell and Johnson are each your prototypical strong, hard-nosed Big Ten linebackers. But they bring elite speed as well.

The past seven national title teams – all from the SEC – have featured punishing defenses. No team, though, has provided a better blueprint during that run than Alabama. The template, or the process as Saban refers to it, is known, but few can duplicate it.

Meyer is trying.

Despite Monday’s 42-14 humiliation, Notre Dame played like an SEC defense in the fall. It was the overriding factor in an undefeated regular season and has them positioned among the upper echelon of college football again after a two-decade absence.

“It’s clear that the formation of any great program is going to be on its defense,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in Miami. “Whether it’s high school, college or NFL, if you play great defense you’ve got a chance. For us to move Notre Dame back into national prominence, we had to begin with our defense, so our focus in recruiting and developing our talent and getting the right staff was on the defensive side of the ball.”

The same message eventually rang true for the Buckeyes in 2012. It was the defense that eventually led to an unbeaten record and put them in the discussion with Alabama, Notre Dame and Oregon. During the season’s first six games, the Silver Bullets looked nothing like they have historically – one of the nation’s best defenses year in and year out. You saw the Indiana game. You don't need me to rehash it.

“I saw a team that had holes and filled the holes,” Meyer said. “I really believe we can play with any team in the country. That’s all I can tell you.”

Portrait of quarterback destroyer.

In the month of November, the height of the college football season, the Ohio State defense was at its best. With the likes of John Simon – the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year – Johnathan Hankins, Ryan Shazier, Zach Boren and Bradley Roby, Ohio State ranked second in the nation in total defense during the final month of the regular season. Ohio State allowed fewer than 270 yards per game and just 143 through the air.

When Cal and Indiana were doing their thing, torching the Buckeyes, the defense was allowing big chunks of yardage with regularity. That dropped considerably once they buckled down and really started addressing their concerns. In November, the Buckeyes allowed the second-fewest number of plays over 10 yards. Perhaps the biggest indicator that they had arrived was limiting Michigan to only 60 second-half yards.

“There’s a common denominator right there for the top five teams in America,” said Meyer, following the Buckeyes’ triumph over Michigan. “The denominator was not part of our system, and that’s a great defense. I’ve been blessed to coach a couple championship teams, and the common denominator is not rushing yardage, passing yardage, blocked punts, whatever – it’s great defense.”

Kelly, like Meyer, knew crafting his team to, in some way, resemble an SEC behemoth was key to turning the corner after five years of mediocrity under former head coach Charlie Weis.

The game played our far differently than most predicted, but don’t let a blowout completely dismiss the Irish. While it showed it still has ground to make up, it proved defense is the avenue to arriving at the championship game.

Oregon has only been there once under Chip Kelly despite his high-powered offense, West Virginia faltered at the biggest moment under Rich Rodriguez, 2012 preseason No. 1 USC completely collapsed and Texas Tech’s ‘Air Raid’ Mike Leach teams only sniffed the BCS once. A shoddy defense is what all of those teams have in common.

“You look at the SEC and the teams that were playing for national championships, obviously Alabama has been leading that charge, and they have been built on defense,” Kelly said.

Entering the game, talk centered on each team’s defense. Notre Dame, led by linebacker Manti Te’o, was thought to be one of the best in the nation after allowing barely 10 points per game in the regular season. Prior to Monday’s humbling, the Irish were giving up 92.4 rushing yards per game and had allowed just two rushing touchdowns in 12 contests the entire season. It all came crashing down in Miami, though, much like it has in the past for Ohio State against Florida and LSU.

It doesn’t mean those teams didn’t belong; it just signals that they have areas still in need of fine-tuning.

“Great defenses pride themselves on stopping the run and keeping the ball out of the end zone,” Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore said last week.

But once again, a solution to that was solved by Alabama. That’s why Schutt, Spence, Washington, Mitchell, Johnson, Joey Bosa and Co. are so vital to Ohio State. When the triumvirate of Schutt, Spence and Washington were lauded after the Michigan game, Meyer hinted at a possible coronation to come. 

“Sometimes you recruit guys that are overrated,” he said. “The names you just mentioned are not overrated. They’re going to be great players here. They’re going to be great players here, and I appreciate the effort.”

They might even be enough to end the SEC’s stranglehold on college football.

87 Comments

Comments

JLBNYC's picture

Kyle
I couldnt agree more. And I'm very excited by the collection of defensive talent we are assembling. I do worry somewhat about the leadership we have on the defensive side of the ball- - Fickel seems like he is still learning and wasnt ready to call defensive plays last year. I hope he is up to the task this year. 

gwalther's picture

I don't know how you guys couldn't like what you saw from the defensive coaching staff following the Indiana game.. Btw- it's spelled Fickell.

Class of 2008

OldColumbusTown's picture

I definitely liked it, but the big difference was the types of offenses OSU faced, and shut down, after that game.
All were more pro-style, and had less of the spread-you-out and make you tackle in space variety.  I'll be interested to see how OSU responds against the Cal offense next year.

buckatron32's picture

I think a lot of people overlook how the defensive staff needed time to adjust to each other and the scheme that the defense was using. Only Fickell and Vrabel returned from the previous staff I believe, and everyone had to make adjustments to the scheme that they were using as different schemes were combined and it took time to figure out how to best adjust to different looks. Year two with this staff, which I think remained completely intact, should be a lot of fun. 

JLBNYC's picture

I definitely agree about the transition on the defensive staff. In that regard, I dont think Urban had coached with anyone on the entire staff other than Stan Drayton and Zach Smith (but i may be wrong). In any event, huge transition for all of them (offense and defense). I do expect better things next year, but as OldColumbustown said above, at least part of the improvement corresponds to the types of offenses OSU faced after Indiana.  And Borges helped out quite a bit with his strategy and play calling in the Game.  To be clear, I like Fickell and he is a true Buckeye, but I dont think the DC position should be on-the-job training.  There were some things that went on this year that, IMHO, cant be blamed on the coaching transition (e.g., lack of pressure, 49 points to Indiana). 

gobucks5413's picture

I hate the SEC as much as anyone, but there is no disproving the dominance of the league (specifically Alabama). I wonder how much the competition plays a factor when it comes to these championship games. I don't truly believe Alabama is THAT much better than ND. But Bama is FAR AND AWAY the best team that ND has played this year, while that certainly isn't true for Bama (LSU, A&M, Georgia). After that lay-off, it has to be something else to get smacked in the mouth by Lacy, especially when you haven't seen it...
Gotta find a way to prepare for Big Ten play, and to prepare for 13-0 first, but there have to be steps taken on the road that prepare you for that bigger stage, because currently, unfortunately, the BIG isn't it.

beserkr29's picture

Watching Alabama run roughshod all over Notre Dame last night showed just how important a truly deep and dominant defensive line is.  Te'o was swallowed up almost the entire night, and at no point did it seem like Alabama had to really do anything other than not beat itself on offense.  The offensive line was fantastic, their running backs were patient and fast, and the play-action that resulted from the dominant run game was superb.  I admit to being a bit concerned at how much defensive line talent was being stockpiled while some of the skill positions were being neglected, but in retrospect those fears were unfounded.  Ohio State needs to beef up its front seven dramatically to compete with Alabama for titles.  Urban has done a great job recruiting, now we just have to hope the young guns can mature fast enough to take advantage of a great quarterback in the perfect offense for his skillset.  Should be fun to watch.

Ahh Saturday's picture

All due respect to Kyle and the SEC, but what OSU needs is an OSU defense.  The defense that abused Ken Dorsey in the desert was one of the filthiest I've seen play.  As recently as the 2009 Rose Bowl and 2010 Sugar Bowl, OSU showed that we can shut down any offense in the country.  Right now Alabama is the model, not Tennessee, not Kentucky, not the UF team that got shredded by Louisville, not the LSU team that got shredded by Clemson, and not the SEC.

CowCat's picture

So true.   It's Saban (a midwestern-rooted coach BTW) and Alabama, not the SEC.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

Dougger's picture

ding!

I like football

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

While those OSU defenses were good... The SEC has 9 out of 15 BCS national titles I believe.  Those defenses that UF and LSU had shut us down pretty well and our defense wasn't great.  In those 2 title games we gave up 39.5 points a game and only scored 19 points a game.  We need to build an SEC style defense.  Stout front 7 and fast lockdown corners.  Urban did it at UF, he will do it again at OSU.  I have to side with Kyle on this one. 

kareemabduljacobb's picture

^That also came at a time before the B1G had bye weeks and the conference championship.  The year we got killed by Fla, we had, what... a 50+ day layoff between our last game and bowl game?  I think bowls will be more competitive now for the B1G as we won't be finishing the season 2 weeks before every other conference. 

Jhesse17's picture

That excuse is total crap. 39.5 PPG is not the result of a layoff.

acBuckeye's picture

Mmmmm, we put up around 25 more yards of total offense than LSU and scored 24 points. Hardly what i'd call being shut down. We lost that game due to an inability to convert on 3rd down, turnovers and really dumb penalties. I will always contend that that game was much closer than any moronic talking head would ever have you believe. Our defense was awful in that game, and if they could've slowed LSU's offense, we had LSU beat with our running game. Beanie had a huge night.

kareemabduljacobb's picture

Agreed, I still remember that LSU game... early on in the game which I think would have been a game changer, leading to us winning was when we were up early (I can't remember the score) TB put a perfect pass in the hands of Robiskie in the endzone on 3rd down, he drops it... then our FG attempt gets blocked, taken back to the opp. redzone basically where LSU goes on to score a TD... had Robiskie caught that TD or even the FG went in, the outcome of that game would have been different.

acBuckeye's picture

Kareem, i remember that sequence. I thought Robiskie caught it at first and was disgusted when i realized he dropped it. That was a huge momentum swing.

d5k's picture

We need a defense like those LSU, UF and Alabama defenses, sure.  But just because those 3 programs apexed around the same time and happen to be in the same conference, why do we have to give implicit credit to all the other 11 schools in that conference? 
And in terms of X's and O's I think we got lined up much better vs. Oregon in terms of defending the spread-to-run than we did against Florida 3 years prior. 

Jhesse17's picture

I liked your comment but apparently my iPhone didn't.

HighBallAce's picture

If your going to give credit to this year being Urban's first recruiting class then technically wasn't 02's class in most part Cooper's class? I'm not saying that thats what you in particular are saying but rather making a blanket statement.
I don't think the SEC's dominance is so much the fact that they are as good as we make them out to be but rather the fact that we simply aren't used to playing them! Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking anything away from them. They are VERY good but look at what Texas A&M did in the SEC in their first year. I don't think they would have done as well had they stayed in the Big 12! I could be wrong but I believe part of that has to do with the fact that other Big 12 teams were used to playing them. That may only be a small part of their success but I do believe it had something to do with it!
I don't honestly believe that Ohio State would simply be a mediocre team if it played in the SEC on a regular basis. Good teams find a way to win and I believe Ohio State would hold their own in the SEC if they played in that conferance!

bassplayer7770's picture

The score last night reminded me a lot of the one we painfully experienced after the 2006 season.  That started the SEC dominance, but the difference between us and ND is that was 6 years ago, and the coach who beat us is now leading us.  He understands what it takes to beat the greatest teams in college football.  He mentioned last night that speed was an obvious difference between the two teams, but you could probably argue size was a factor as well.  He hired Coach Mick to help build this team to be in peak condition.  That includes physical fitness and mental toughness.  Coach Meyer also understands that you must go after elite talent and have the best coaching staff.  This will be his first full recruiting class, and you can bet we're moving on to bigger things.
On a side note, Coach Meyer being on for the game last night during a recruiting dead period certainly didn't hurt anything.  Recruits notice those things.

rdubs's picture

Just FYI the dead period ended on Jan 3 I believe.  But regardless you are right that putting his face out there (especially in association with the championship game) can only help.

bassplayer7770's picture

I had heard it was a dead period until Thursday at midnight.  According to the schedule linked below:

Institutional staff members may have contact with a
prospective student-athlete who has been admitted for midyear
enrollment, provided the prospect has signed a National Letter
of Intent or other offer of admission and/or financial aid to
attend the institution and is required to be on campus to attend
institutional orientation sessions for all students:

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/recruiting+calendars/2012-13/2012-13+ncaa+division+i+football+recruiting+calendar

gwalther's picture

I believe the narrative has changed somewhat. I believe the story is more Alabama, rather than the SEC as a whole. This year LSU and Florida were unimpressive (lost their bowl games, offenses were awful when I watched), and there was garbage at the bottom of the SEC (Arkansas. Auburn, Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss). Georgia and South Carolina didnt seem too far ahead of their B1G competition, and MSU got pounded by Northwestern.
The only other team that impressed, in spite of early season losses (in close games) to LSU and UF, was Texas A&M, and it's clear they have a special player at quarterback.
So the story is more Alabama for me instead of the entire conference. Though the SEC is still the strongest, other conferences seem to be catching up, and the gap doesn't seem to be as large as many have been led to believe.

Class of 2008

btalbert25's picture

I don't think the gap between conferences was ever that great anyway.  There were years B1G teams beat SEC teams in the lower bowls even though the teams were supposed to be superior.  The top is still where they are dominant.  I do think a 4 team playoff will help to change this too.  Teams would be included in the games that are left out now.
I did notice, though, last night there wasn't the huge SEC chant that normally takes place.  I heard roll tide roll a lot.  Perhaps they are getting tired of 13 other teams celebrating their hard work.

gwalther's picture

"I don't think the gap between conferences was ever that great anyway."
 
Completely agree.
 
I didn't watch after halftime, but it's interesting you noticed that. I would certainly be a little tired of it if I was a Bama fan.

Class of 2008

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I was thinking maybe we didn't hear the SEC chants because Notre Dame isn't in a conference.  Maybe the idea behind the SEC chants is to remind their opponents that their conference is inferior to the SEC?  If that's the case, Notre Dame isn't in a conference, so no point in rubbing SEC in their faces.  I really hope it's your explanation, though.  It's about time that the other SEC schools, especially the ones that have contributed exactly 0 championships to their conference's current run, stop being allowed to take credit for what the big boys in their conference are doing.

Class of 2010.

Catch 5's picture

I also noticed that the SEC chant didn't come out (at least audibly on the TV), and I really don't know why - perhaps that trend is dying down.  The onus of that chant was Auburn '04, who went undefeated and got left out of the championship because the perception of the SEC was that it was weaker than the B12 and Pac.  This was an insult to all the teams in the conference, not just Auburn, so you began hearing the SEC chant whenever an SEC team did well out of conference.  The chant was not an attempt at claiming laud for the actions of the other teams in the conference, but a statement of proof to the country as to the conference's relevance.  With the string of championships reaching ridiculous proportions, the SEC chant is no longer necessary, though I doubt it will go away completely.
Even though Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, etc have not won a national title in recent years, they still contribute greatly to the strength of the conference, and have a right to take pride in that.  Alabama doesn't go to the title game this year if not for the strength of the SEC (and possibly because Oregon missed the Pac title game), so it's not quite fair to say that they don't contribute some to the success of the league just because they haven't won a national title.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

btalbert25's picture

I really don;'t worry about competition that much.  When playing so many weak teams the biggest worry is focus in the regular season.  Over the years FSU and Nebraska were able to dominate despite playing horrible schedules.  Urban is the kind of coach to keep his team focused on the task at hand though.  I really believe that.  As long as a coach can keep his team to playing at their level and not the level of the opponent, we'll be just fine.

acBuckeye's picture

I agree BT. I bring up the 90s Florida State teams all the time when people get so caught up with worrying about how good the rest of the B1G is. Who cares? Weak conference competition didn't hurt the Seminoles then, and shouldn't hurt us now, as long as we stay focused and continue to haul in prime talent. Back in the 70s, 80s and early 90s, Oklahoma and Nebraska played cupcakes all year until they played each other. Those two programs won a lot of games and won a lot of national championships after beating very good teams in bowl games. There's no reason why Ohio State can't do the same.

OSUBias's picture

I'd argue that it did hurt FSU. Yes, they rolled up a ton of victories over a horrible conference. But they only won the NC twice during that 14 year span. They came very close several other times, but the reason they didn't win more was because they kept getting knocked off by one of the 2-3 good teams they faced every year. Miami comes to mind with the wide right games (at least twice, maybe three times), they also lost to a #2 ranked ND team in the reg season and lost the NC game to Tenn and Oklahoma. So if the argument is that the conference schedule helps better prepare for top OOC talent, I'd argue that FSU is exhibit A of why a strong conference does matter. They were always there but couldn't regularly get over the hump against top talent. 'Bama is always there and routinely gets over the hump, because the top in conference talent is just as good as anything else they are going to face. Because since this SEC run started, this is the fact: make it out of the conference and you're the NC. Until someone knocks them off, that's the world we live in.

Slider...you stink

btalbert25's picture

At the same time, those were some damn good teams they were coming u p just short on, and it had to do with bad kickers against Miami more than anything else.  It's a good debate to have.  Oklahoma and Texas a few years back kept trading turns getting destroyed by an SEC team even though they played in a really tough division.  It could be different for each team I guess, but that's why I think it's so important for the coach to keep his teams focused and playing with an edge to them.  Urban is amazing at pulling this off.

acBuckeye's picture

Those FSU teams never got blown out or embarrassed by a non-conference opponent though, and their series with Miami during that epic stretch was just about dead even. Most of those games were a play or two away from going the other way. In other words, they were ready for the big games. I just don't see how playing in a weak conference affected them negatively. You aren't going to win every single big game.
I'd say the reason why 'Bama routinely succeeds is b/c they have a coach who always motivates them no matter what, and always has them prepared. I admire Tressel now more than ever, and love everything about him, but my biggest knock on him was how many times his teams came out flat, or just downright folded on the big stage (with several exceptions, of course.) Even this year under Urbz..... we came out flat in SEVERAL games. You almost NEVER see 'Bama look flat in a game they know is important, or any other game for that matter.

OSUBias's picture

Agree, and I'm not diminishing the quality of their losses. My thought is more centered around experience and "being there before." Seems to me that going through a tough conference slate with close, hard fought games helps a team learn how to do anything to win, and how to get over the hump in those types of games. When you are just dominating a weak conference and then you come out against a good team and get hit in the mouth, it's more of a crapshoot in terms of the team's reaction. FSU might not have folded at the first sign of adversity like some other schools (ND), but they also didn't get over the hump in those games as often as they could have.
It's an endless argument, because it's impossible for either of us to be right or wrong. Just seems like routinely playing the best would better prepare a team to play an elite team, to me. That's why I think the conference strength matters.

Slider...you stink

acBuckeye's picture

An underlying lesson that one could add to this article: get a dominant offensive line. A team is only as good as their offensive lines, defensive lines, and QBs. Shore up those three areas, and you will have tremendous success on a regular basis. People who get caught up in the flash and dash of skill position players need to be reminded of this on occassion.

OldColumbusTown's picture

ACBuckeye hit on exactly what I wanted to point out.
I completely agree with the premise of the article that having that athletic, physical, and fast defense is essential to beating a team like Alabama.  But why, exactly, is that the case?  It is because of how physical and powerful an offense Alabama has.  It was no different with the Florida and LSU teams that have played for and won titles.
The common denominator, along with a dominant defense, is a physical offense.  It allows you to enforce your will on the opponent on both sides of the ball.  ND had the defensive line, but other than T'eo they are average at LB.  In the secondary, they were completely exposed for their lack of size and speed.  That is all because of the time Bama's offensive line gave to McCarron, and the holes they opened up for Lacy and Yeldon (not to mention the punishing runs each displayed).
My only concern with Ohio State is the so far lack of success, big picture, in bringing the big-time O-line recruits to Columbus.  Last year was a good haul, but it was a little light this year.  They need the agile maulers.
I do think Urban and his staff are on to something with this aggressive and physical spread offense, especially with some of these bigger backs in Hyde, Smith, and Dunn.  Saban had begun to sort of figure out the power-spread offense during Meyer's last year or two at Florida, but the major difference now is the type of runner Ohio State has, as compared to Florida's Demps/Rainey scat-back types.

acBuckeye's picture

Very good points Old. The Irish had the D-line like you said, but i don't think they played well last night, and Teo couldn't stay out of traffic. Plus, he was just down right terrible last night. ND's secondary got badly exposed b/c, again like you said, McCarron had all day to throw. The Irish offensive line was somewhat exposed as well, although most already knew that was a weak point of that team. If they had a better O-line, many of their close games wouldn't have been as close, and they may have had a better chance to stay in the game last night, although i will say they did a decent job of picking up blitzes in pass protection. I just think Golson got skittish back there and got happy feet when he didn't need to sometimes.
I'm also a little concerned at the lack of talent and depth on our O-line, outside of the starters, and Dodson and Decker. The fact that we had the same starting 5 O-line for every game was impressive though. I don't think we can count on that every year, however.

BuckeyeinExile's picture

I definately agree about it being an Alabama thing at this point, and not an SEC thing. While I still grudgingly have to say the SEC is still the best conference, they have fallen off a bit while the other leagues have begun to catch up. Next year I think is the year their streak ends, whether it is finished by us, Oregon, Stanford, Clemson or whoever. Hopefully it is us but regardless I hope next year is the year because it is getting ridiculous.
Last night was a neat matchup from a college football historical sense, and I actually wanted Notre Dame to win as lesser of two evils, but after wathcing their band and leprachauns and everything I remembered why I hate them. This game was over after that penalty on the punt. Notre Dame just seemed to fold up after that. Coach Kelly said it best at halftime when he said their best chance to win would be for Bama not to come back out for the second half.

buckz4evr's picture

Kelly should be fired for that statement

toad1204's picture

Would you prefer "We're beating ourselves and just not executing?"

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

buckz4evr's picture

The thing that impresses me the most about Alabama is how they consistantly come out ready to play in the biggest games.  They may have one or two blips along the way, but when it matters most, they impose their will from the first snap until the last.  Sure a lot of that is talent, but it goes beyond that.  They don't seem to come out with any gitters.  Along with an elite defense, did you see any dropped passes from their receivers?  How about stupid, costly penalties.  Turnovers?   Urban is doing a great job here, but it is going to be hard to change the culture of football in these parts, which is to be B1G Champions and beating Michigan.  Urban can stand toe to toe with Saban, but the mentality of the players has to change which he is diligently working on.  Until he gets all his own players in here it is going to be a struggle to get where we want to go.  How many times have we heard the players and coaches in the past talk about beating Michigan and winning the Big Ten.  That's why I was so impressed when Coombs downplayed beating ttup by saying we have to be better than Alabama, not ttup. 

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

^^^ Great comment. That to me was what did in ND faster than Alabama's talent. ND came in like a deer caught in the headlights. Alabama was cool, calm and collected and didnt make any mistakes. When you're nervous, you screw up. Most of the game is psychological. Back in the 2003 national title game vs. Miami when Will Smith sacked Dorsey on that first play I knew OSU was going to either win or match Miami punch for punch. Miami had more talent than Alabama did last night. THAT is what Coach Meyer and his staff have to teach more than anything else.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

bucknasty13's picture

You're right about this.  ND was scared in the first quarter and things got too far out of hand by the time they recovered.  The second half was a different game.  Forget the first half and the game was 14-14.

acBuckeye's picture

I agree with you about the Miami game, but we also jumped out 10-0 against LSU then lost our composure long after the pregame jitters should've been gone. As much as I loathe him, Saban is a master motivator and is the best in the business at having his teams prepared, and they almost NEVER beat themselves with mistakes. It's actually quite amazing when you think about it.
When Meyer talks about an "angry team," I still envision guys playing with reckless abandon and making too many mistakes, much like the first part of this season and even still later in the year. I hope i'm wrong though. Saban's teams just don't do that. They are always under control.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

being an "angry" team doesn't mean undisciplined. OSU can play with a chip on its shoulder and still play calm and collected.  As you saw many times during the season when an OSU player did something rash like a bone-headed late hit, that player got yanked out of the game instantly. One example of that was the late hit by Michael Thomas in the Wisconsin game. He was off the field in 0 seconds flat. I dont think Meyer would allow his team to lose control like that. Mistakes do happen and Alabama isn't perfect either. If you saw the LSU or Texa A&M game they were more than flawed in both those games. The trick is to be perfect when all the chips are down.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Larryp713's picture

Very good points. The speed of the defensive front 7 is often credited for the SEC team's success, and yet their composure and confidence is what really sets them apart on that stage. That is due somewhat to coaching, but also to the depth of the conference. I am not suggesting every SEC team is even good, but you really can't sleep on any of them. Even Vandy and Miss St have enough atheletes to beat a flat Florida or Georgia. That consistency comes from playing at least 3 or 4 games of the week before the conference championship game. The thing I am most impressed with is that there doesn't seem to be the letdown after the SEC championship game. Maybe the five weeks in between helps.

Respectfully,

Larryp713

fear_the_nut70's picture

I don't know if I agree with this.  Part of the problem for JT was that, while he locked up the best Ohio talent, he rarely did well on the national scene.  Kids that grow up in Ohio probably obsess over winning the B1G and beating TSUN, but kids on the national stage probably have a bigger picture approach.  That is in part why pulling kids out of Florida and Georgia (areas where we know there is a lot of speed and talent overall) is a different approach that will pay dividends.  I also think that Urban having two rings doesn't hurt in this regard.  I will never criticize JT for what he did in his era with that winning perecentage and the way he took care of TSUN, but I saw his limitation after 02-03.  I simply don't think Meyer has such limitations, but rather, installs a killer instinct in his players we just didn't see under JT.  Only time will tell if he gets us over the hump, but if he doesn't, it won't be because players on his team are aiming for Rose Bowl wins, I'll tell you that much.

acBuckeye's picture

JT got a lot of talent from Florida, just sayin. But yes, Meyer is hitting spots that JT would never even dream of touching.

Citrus's picture

I agree that the Buckeyes shouldn't be satisfied with being better than TTUN. However, I disagree that Meyer needs "all of his own players" to do this. I interpreted that statement to mean that Buckeyes needs to be manned 100% with Meyer recruits to have the mentality needed to beat 'Bama. 

Players in the past have mentioned winning the B1G and beating TTUN as being the goal. However, those goals don't represent their integral self-possessed mentality as much as they represent Tress-era goals (which in all fairness worked pretty well). This team has new Urban-era goals. The mentality comes mostly from the top.

Despite not being filled 100% with Meyer's recruits, Urbz does have "all of his own players" at this point.

rickyu22's picture

True I think its more of an Alabama dominance than SEC dominance. I hate hearing all the fans yelling SEC. Thats like me being glad that *ichigan won a national title! I will never be glad if they win one...BIG Ten or not. I have friends that are Miss. St. fans and Arkansas and both teams got spanked this year and both friends hate Bama. How can you turn around and cheer for Bama to win a national title when they beat you all the time!! Just because its for the SEC? 
My brother in law compared it to some women who usually have more than one favorite team because of pretty colors or a cute QB or some other reason. Not being sexiest...just saying.

RoyWalley's picture

I admire Kelly for his statement at halftime.  He's being honest!!
 
We should over sign, then we will be even like the sec.
 
 
 
 

Seabass1974's picture

Oversigning is the only thing that keeps the SEC ahead of the rest of the country. 40 extra recruits every 4 years is a lot.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

Doc's picture

If you guys think oversigning is the only thing that seperates us from bama you are fooling yourselves.  It doesn't hurt them, but there is more at work than just extra dudes.

"Say my name."

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

The oversigning negates the loss of team strength with the attrition from graduations/early NFL departures/recruits that don't develop for sure. Got a Top 5 recruit who doesn't live up to his expectations? Dump him and replace him with someone else who shouldn't be there. Being able to replace a first-round draft pick with someone just as good or better every year makes oversigning a WEE bit of an advantage that they normally wouldn't get if that practice were mitigated or banned. Most schools ban the practice. Bama and LSU do not.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

fear_the_nut70's picture

For starters, the SEC pays their coaches more.  It's why brett bolted for the ass ache that will be Arkansas.  In particular, they pay their assistants more, which results in losing them a bit less (and when they lose them, they replace them with the best of the best because of what they pay).  Oversigning does make a difference, but it is most definitely more than that.

brglr14's picture

i dont know about all of you but i really dont think tress and his staff would be recruiting the way we need to be at this point to win nat titles.  he won that title with alot of coops players and coop had same philosophy as urbz to a point about speed and being big and fast up front on both sides of the ball. he just didnt get the final result. this staff taking it to a new level and wo=ith that my hope is in a few short years people are talking about what its going to take to keep up with the buckeyes and not the sec.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.
                           

d5k's picture

Really all it will take is for a playoff with 2 SEC teams in it and neither team wins the semifinal.  Then the conversation will get back to neutral where we talk about the best TEAMS/PROGRAMS in the country rather than some patriotic attachment to conferences where Tennessee fans with their program in the toilet can somehow attach pride to being the punching bag for multiple national championship teams.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

While I agree with you... I'd rather see an 8 team playoff.  The football playoff will turn out like the basketball tourney.  That 5th team will cry every year and complain about why they didn't get in. 
The NCAA needs to create 4: 20 team super conferences and let the top 2 teams from each conference play in a playoff.  The 1st round could be played at the higher seeded teams school and the next 2 would be neutral sites.  All of the other teams would continue to play in their regular bowl games. 

fear_the_nut70's picture

I knew this would never stop.  The 8 team playoff will just mirror the stupidity of the NFL (12-7 Giants are champs over 18-1 Patriots cuz they played better in January).  The more teams you include, the more likely it is that a second rate team wins the championship (thereby diminishing the value of the 13 games that came before it) because they were healthiest, won the turnover battle in one game, happen to play out of their minds one game, etc. etc.  Answer me this question, do you really think you need 8 teams most (or any years) to ensure that you have snagged the best college team?  And I am not talking about creating a good tournament or arguing over whether we really can say # 8 should not be in but # 9 should (as this is NOT where the focus should be in trying to crown the best team for the WHOLE season, which is what CFB has always been). 

WC Buckeye's picture

Getting to the best 8 is easier than getting to the best 4. It also aligns better with the current and potential conference ($) money structure, and could ensure that the mid-majors get a seat at the table, which is all they want. To wit:
1. B1G champion
2. SEC champion
3. Pac 12 champion
4. Big 12 champion
5. ACC champion
6. MAC champion
7. Mountain West champion
8. Conference USA/Big East champion*
* one of these two conferences dries up at some point and their teams either get distributed to the other conferences somehow or stop playing.
This lineup represents 14 + 14 + 12 + 10 + 14 + 13 + 10 + (14 + 8) = 109 D1 FBS schools, potentially, and the conference champion definitely deserves to be in the playoff mix. Any school that falls outside of this in D1 isn't worthy of mention, IMHO, and the arguments should only really be about seeding at that point, which will always be a bone of contention no matter what.

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

Catch 5's picture

Think about the collateral effects of this proposal.
1. There is absolutely no incentive to schedule challenging OOC games. In fact, the strength of schedule has been wiped away completely.
2. You give the same chance/reward to a MAC champion as you do the SEC champion.
3. Do you like your rivalry game against Mich every year? How will you feel when Meyer sits your starters after the 1st quarter, losing THE game because your spot in the B10 championship game is secured? I know that sounds crazy, but why risk injury to key players that could cost you a national title in what amounts to a meaningless game?
4. Go back and look. How many years have we had more than 4 teams with a legit claim to the #1 spot at the end of the season? 4 is just right.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

WC Buckeye's picture

I can't argue logically with any of your points, guys, but this is all about money at the end of the day. I can't make a compelling argument that the MAC will ever be competitive with the SEC, B1G, or even the MWC. Nor can I say that rivalry games will be preserved or that, without punitive measures in place to prevent coaches from "holding back", there won't be instances where the best team isn't on the field. However, the playoff system in the lower divisions seems to work, and it really comes down to making the model work economically for the FBS schools, networks, and bowls. There is so much flipping money at stake and so many parties that want a slice of the pie that it has to go this route; there will always be too much bitching about bias/economic loss/parity etc. for the 4 team model to work over the long run.
Let's also remember that the original intent behind the BCS model, flawed as it was, was to take some of the "human element" out of selecting the national champion. What started out as a pretty good mathematical model combined with less emphasis on human biases got totally bastardized by more computer models and eventually about the same emphasis on the human polls. I think that there is a place for one model that everyone agrees to and - to the extent possible - understands to determine seeding, but if you buy into the concept that conference champions ONLY are the ones in the playoff system, the voting bias is really all but eliminated.
Now, there is the chance that a 2011 scenario can develop whereby the two best teams in the country are in the same conference, but my reply would be "win your conference", otherwise you're out. I don't know how one mitigates or accounts for that, but in a 4-team format with the human element involved in selecting the 4 teams, the likelihood of getting two teams in from a strong conference in a particular year does increase. Whether or not the 8-team conference champion scenario works or not, at least with an 8-team system we would hope that the best 2 teams would still surface.
I just hate that there is so much emphasis placed on the human side of choosing the participants. Intuitively, protectionism, agendas, biases, fallibility, and maybe even graft come into play when the humanoids are involved, and I think the goal ought to be to negate that side of the equation.

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

Catch 5's picture

Amen. 4 teams is fine, but the minute they start talking about increasing it any further, we lose college football as we know it.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

d5k's picture

Alabama has the best program in the country and a few other SEC schools have top 10 programs, namely LSU and Florida.  Texas A&M, Georgia and South Carolina are also borderline top 15.  But it's not like when Michigan won a national title in 1997 and Ohio State won in 2002 everyone was giving Northwestern and Iowa credit.  If everyone stops classifying based on conference when the truth is the SEC has the most premier programs including the top program but there are also plenty of mediocre or bad teams as well.  And Ohio State already has a top 10 program that is competitive with probably everyone but Alabama at the moment in the SEC, and certainly is capable of competing with Alabama at some point in the future including perhaps next year.  If there was some unique other level in the SEC, Texas A&M certainly didn't experience it.  A team that was above average in the Big 12 suddenly became able to compete at the highest level by hiring a new coach and handing the reigns to an unsung recruit but talented redshirt freshman QB? 
Lots stop pretending that football begins and ends in the SEC after a bowl season where Clemson beat LSU, Florida got torched by Louisville and South Carolina needed a last second score to beat Michigan.  They might have 6 of the top 20 or 7 of the top 30 or whatever but that leaves 14 or 23 other schools that play pretty good football too.  Basically if you take away Saban's juggernaut and Urban's dominance at Florida you probably wouldn't be classifying good defenses as "SEC-like".  I personally don't want to have Vanderbilt or Kentucky's defense.

buckz4evr's picture

Why would anyone applaud Kelly's statement.  Whatever happened to the mantra of 'never say die'?  For a head coach to give up is deplorable to me.  Forget honesty.  He's there to lead them, make adjusments, teach them that no matter how bad things look, they must fight on.  He lost all credibility with his players when he himself gave up.  Why not just give the usual "Hats off to 'Bama but we have to come out and play better".  Save the accolades for after the game, not in the midst of the battle.

d5k's picture

If you listened to the whole interview (which is off the cuff), he basically said they were getting their butt kicked and they needed to tackle someone and they need to come back out and play with pride...  I hate this knee-jerk twitter quote reactionary crap.

buckz4evr's picture

I may be over reacting, but when there  are mikes in your face and millions of people are listening to you, there is no such thing as off the cuff.   I can think of many off the cuff remarks that cost people jobs and even presidencies.  I'm glad he said it.  Showed his true loser mentality.
 
 

chitown buckeye's picture

It sounded like he was giving up to me. That quote stands by itself even in the full context of his interview. He made the quote then realized what he said and began to back pedal by talking about not tackling well.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

Doc's picture

Alabama's players play well in big games because they are use to playing in big games.  Not only playing, but winning.  We have played in our share of big games in the BCS, but we have been nervous in all of them execept Da U.  Urban brings a different mind set.  He looked like a caged animal last night.  He wanted to be doing something other than talking.  He knows what it takes to win.  Saban was still throwing the ball and playing lights out defense late in the fourth quarter.  That is a completely different way of thinking than what our kids are use to.
I'm no fan of 'Bama or Saban, but good grief is that a good football team.  They would have destroyed anybody they played last night, including us.  Both lines are stacked with NFL talent.  McCarron had all the time in the world to do whatever the hell he wanted to do, whenever he wanted to do it.  While Gohlson did not.  That kid was running for his life the entire game.
I would love to have Ross breakdown Alabama.  Why is Saban so dominate?  What does he do differently than every other coach?  Maybe if we, the fans, understood them a little better, we could see what needs to be done and understand what Urban is up against.
Don't get me wrong, I think Urban has all the tools he needs to win championships in Cbus.  I also think he is the perfect coach for us.  But, we have to admit that Saban truly does just reload and doesn't miss a beat.  I would just like to know why.

"Say my name."

acBuckeye's picture

I'd say he does this by getting top-flight talent year after year, then harnessing that talent and having them constantly prepared for any situation. He doesn't just say it, he does it.

nickma71's picture

Unless you are in the NFL, where the rules are written against the defense....

gobucks5413's picture

Herbie just blew his chance to get back in my good graces....Cowherd was talking about how Ohio State was barely a top ten team, and how LSU would beat us badly, and how we would be 3rd in the SEC West...Herbie had a chance to defend us a little bit, and of course didn't and just agreed with him. Said he'd put us at 5.
I'm all for doing your job, and not being a homer, even if that means angering fans. But every once in a while you should take a stand for your alma mater. Saying OSU deserves their #3 ranking certainly isn't an outrageous stance. I'm mad

tennbuckeye19's picture

Your first mistake was listening to Cowherd.

Buckifan4Life's picture

I gave up in Herbie a long time ago. He's just an analyst to me like all the others. I don't expect him to show any loyalty. Of course Lou Holtz demonstrates the other end of the spectrum. He is blinded by his Gold ND glasses every year. I like him though, he usually has nice things to say about.OSU and I'm sure that pisses, that Idiot, Mark May off.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Something struck me about Saben last night - even with the win sealed up long ago, he had just gotten a Gatoraide bath and with a mere 2 seconds left, as his players tried to hug and congratulate him, he was pushing them out of the way trying to continue coaching that last play.  It just made me wonder how empty and hollow he is inside that he cannot even take the time to enjoy the moment in which he had driven himself so hard to obtain...

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

Buckifan4Life's picture

Nice post NCAA Championship game article. Thanks! I gotta ask though,.. how long have you been wanting to work in the word "triumvirate"? LOL! :)

Go Bucks!

Jdadams01's picture

To me, the game last night was very simple. Saban and co identified a handful of weaknesses for ND (secondary, Golson decision making) and pounded those weaknesses mercilessly and immediately. The Alabama players knew they were going to win after the first three minutes and were confident and ruthless. The OL stole the initiative, the DL brought enough people to make sure there was always someone in Golson's face and trusted the CBs to hold their islands. Obviously easier said than done, but they didn't have some crazy gameplan or identify some new unknown hole in ND. They just lined up and played simple concepts with confident players.

Dougger's picture

i can't wait for the opportunity to do that to another team next january

I like football

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

ND probably had no business playing in that game, to be perfectly honest. I also wonder if ND's own arrogance caught up to them.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

d5k's picture

I'm not sure I agree with the simplicity.  I think there's subtlety to the blocking schemes and play action game although it looks familiar from the traditional offenses in the NFL.  It was still a robust scheme last night although they typically run a more conservative approach.  They obviously saw vulnerabilities to certain types of play action with the way Notre Dame played its safeties.

bcarp87's picture

Nice article! I know this isn't really related to your main point, but it irritates me when people say Oregon has a bad defense. They are actually one of the best in the country... top 10 almost every year. Most people think they aren't good because they do not have good points against averages and yardage averages. But if you look at how often they are on the field, they actually do not give up many yards per play or points per play. If the opposing offense has 50% more opportunities to snap the ball than a normal team, of course your total yards and points allowed are going to suffer. The fact that they are in the top 10 in most of the efficiency stats (yards per play, points per play) is actually really impressive when you consider how long they are on the field and the impact that has on their energy. These are all things I think we need to remember as we see OSU develop into a fast paced spread team. I think the days of being a top 2 or 3 points allowed defense every single year are over... but that doesn't mean our defense won't be just as good.

d5k's picture

kenpom.com adjusts basketball statistics for tempo, but there has been less effort to adjust football statistics for tempo.  Oregon is the primary team that gets skewed up in offense and down in defense.  The comparison in basketball is North Carolina, who runs a fast paced offense which makes their offensive counting statistics look better than they really are and hurts their defensive stats other than total rebounds for example.

gobucks96's picture

however, oregon's defense is not setup to stop a true power running team. Bama would own the line of scrimmage just as Auburn did. That style won't work against bama...
I'd like to see how the Oregon offense would do though..
 

d5k's picture

2012 Oregon is not 2010 Oregon.  Kelly has gradually been getting better and better recruits in there on both sides of the ball.  They certainly are better equipped in the secondary than Notre Dame was to stop the simple post and corner routes from running wide open.

gobucks96's picture

The game planning and execution was mind boggling for the game last night. Alabama was on all on it all game. ND came out flat and was done in the 1st quarter. The domers had no ability to adjust and couldn't change the bama gameplan one bit. gohlston wasn't ready and ND's dline wasn't ready...

immort9888's picture

Alabama is good because they run the ball with a well coached and talented offensive line.  AJ McCarron isn't an all world QB.  He just has good WRs, a strong running game, and all the time in the world to throw.  Alabama obviously plays good defense as well.
OSU isn't far behind honestly.  The development of the offensive line was HUGE this year.  Warriner worked small miracles.  When was the last time OSU had such a strong running game?  Not sure, but when you can run the ball consistently, the game is much easier.  If Braxton ever learns to read a defense with any consistency, watch out!
Defensively, I'm not worried about teams beating us with the spread.  Unless we play a Texas A&M who has NFL talent on the offensive and defensive lines, a spread team won't beat OSU anytime soon.  Almost all spread teams, minus A&M and tOSU, have weaker line play and this is the reason they run the spread.  I feel fairly confident playing against power run teams, but eventually OSU will be tested by a Bama/LSU type running game.  Whether the front seven can hold up against an SEC power running game will be the difference between winning a major bowl game or not. 
 

osubuckeye4life's picture

It's about both lines. The Bama D and O line were just bigger, faster, and stronger than ND. 
The other thing is in order to beat Bama you have to have more than one weapon. 
Bama focuses on taking away what you do best. They exploit this for all four quarters. 
Because Manziel is a great QB he had the threat of running.  Not to mention a talented group of WR's to find down field.  Let's not forget two potential first rounders protecting his ass. The D also had some fine pass rushers and a competent secondary.
For tOSU to be a threat to Bama. Miller must improve his passing. He must become a true running and passing threat. Also, there needs to be playmakers all over on the offense. MAKE THE OTHER TEAMS D PICK THEIR POISON! Keep them guessing on who gets the ball this time.
D:
Stop the run, get pressure with four, sound tackling, etc.