Meyer Year Two Begins Today

By Kyle Rowland on March 5, 2013 at 10:00a
41 Comments
Braxton Miller is set to explode in Year Two under Urban Meyer

A lot can happen in 105 days. That’s when Ohio State last played a football game, defeating Michigan to polish off a perfect 12-0 season. Instead of sulking about a postseason ban, players have been working out and coaches spent the winter recruiting.

It adds up to a hungry football team that got even better with one of the nation’s top recruiting classes. When Ohio State takes the practice field for the first time this afternoon in preparation for the 2013 football season, it does so with a target on its back – and expectations.

It’s been three seasons since the Buckeyes entered the spring thinking national championship. But with 51 lettermen returning, including nine offensive starters, there’s a reason the anticipation for the Aug. 31 season opener versus Buffalo has reached a fever pitch – even if it is the Bulls and not the Bills.

Just last week, star quarterback Braxton Miller graced the cover of Sports Illustrated – in February. Anything less than a national championship, not just playing in the game, will be considered a failure by many.

When Urban Meyer is your head coach, high hopes seem to be an every year occurrence. Turnarounds are his hobby and Year 2 is his specialty.  Meyer is a whopping 34-4 during second seasons spent at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. That includes a national championship, an undefeated season, two BCS wins and two conference titles.

“Year 2 is kind of a definitive year,” Meyer said. “There used to be a time where you could go build a program and that really doesn’t exist anymore. You’ve got to win.

“It’s exciting knowing what we accomplished last year, but we’re not even close to the potential that we think we can be.”

Those victories will pile up thanks in large put to a potent offense. Ohio State averaged a Big Ten-best 37.2 points per game a season ago and ranked second in the conference in total offense and yards per game. 

Of course, Meyer’s satisfaction level was low. So what did he do? Had his group of assistants scour the nation for players that will make an immediate impact on the field. Playmakers, both on offense and defense, were secured. Of the 24 commitments, 18 are four or five stars. A handful occupy the offensive skill positions and could be the missing piece that pushes the Buckeyes to their full potential.

“We maybe didn’t have the home run hitter explosiveness, open space players on offensive,” Meyer said. “But you know what, some guys really grew up and did a good job for us.”

At the forefront are Miller and his school record-setting performance.  He totaled well north of 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2012. Still, Miller is far from a finished product, which prompted a winter visit to San Diego, where he learned under the guidance of quarterback guru George Whitefield Jr. Miller said mechanics were the main area where he wants to advance.

“There’s a lot to improve on,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “We got a lot of work to do still. It’s exciting knowing what we accomplished last year, but we’re not even close to the potential that we think we can be.”

Protecting Miller is a veteran offensive line that has suddenly become a strength of the team after a decade of underwhelming performances. Four starters return to a unit that cleared space for the nation’s No. 10 rushing attack. The man who gained the bulk of those yards also returns. Had Carlos Hyde not missed multiple games in September, he easily would have joined Miller as a 1,000-yard rusher.

Playmaking receivers include Devin Smith, Corey Brown and Jordan Hall.

The concern lies on the defensive side, where the “heart and soul” of the team – John Simon – is gone.

Ohio State DE Adolphus WashingtonAdolphus Washington is one of many sophs expected to step up for Ohio State.

“It’s a huge void,” Meyer said. “Make no doubt about it. That was a huge part of the successful season.

“The good thing is we get to evaluate that. We’re into the evaluation phase of that to see who can fill those roles.”

Not to be diminished is an almost completely new front seven. In all, there will be seven new defensive starters, including all four linemen.

Aside from Ryan Shazier, the linebacker position could be a revolving door until two replacements at middle and strongside. There’s a plethora of freshmen and sophomores waiting for their opportunity at one of the glamour positions.

“Our D-line is not stable and our linebacker position is not stable,” Meyer said. “So you throw the back end in that, we're dealing with an unstable defense. That's big.”

It’s not just linebacker where youth lurks. The defensive line will be inhabited with loads of talent but also inexperience. Ohio State has 47 scholarship players, or 57 percent of its total, that are underclassmen. With the lack of bowl practices, greenness becomes an even more pronounced obstacle.

But one welcome sight will be the return of fifth-year senior safety Jamie Wood. He's had an injury-riddled career at Ohio State after being a high school All-American. When news of a second shoulder surgery surfaced in January, it appeared Wood's Ohio State career had come to an end. 

That wasn't how he wanted the final chapter to be written, though. So when Ohio State trots onto the practice field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Wood also will be donning the Scarlet and Gray. He was a special teams demon last season and will likely angle for that role again in 2013. But his experience and leadership in the locker room will be an invaluable source for the young Bucks.

Five of the Buckeyes’ 24 recruits for 2013 will take part in spring drills – cornerbacks Eli Apple and Cam Burrows, defensive linemen Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle, and quarterback J.T. Barrett.

And that’s where that lingering question about leadership comes into play. With so many players on the team that haven’t been in the trenches with a championship on the line, Meyer has already given pause to outside pressures.

“Our mantra is going to be truth and it’s going to be fundamental improvement,” he said. “Truth means exactly that. You have a good season and there’s a lot of conversation about a lot of things that really shouldn’t be discussed because it’s not true.

“There’s a lot to be done.”

41 Comments

Comments

703Buckeye's picture

Thank you, semester system for bringing spring ball sooner than normal! I don't think I could have waited another week or two for actual football, even if it is just practice.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

sharks's picture

I absolutely cannot wait to see them turn Adolphus loose on the B1G.

The postgame show is brought to you by... Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it...

SPreston2001's picture

Is that really Adolphus in that pic?? Dont remember him being so round....

Dougger's picture

his thigh pads don't even fit!

I like football

kevinfrenchfry's picture

he def had a gut all of last year

SPreston2001's picture

I just remember him being alot slimmer coming out of HS. Considering our new conditioning program I thought he would remain the same just add more muscle mass.

dubjayfootball90's picture

I am real excited that Lewis and Sprinkle enrolled early, that is HUGE to get in those spring reps and off season conditioning to add more stability to the line. Wish an LB would have done the same, but of the guys we have now, at least two should prove more than capable. I am really pulling for Grant, man. I really hope he runs with this opportunity and just ruins lives. Kid is a world-beater in waiting.
Holy hell I am pumped for this season to begin.... Wish I could watch the spring practice. I assume they are practicing indoors? either way, I miss the smell of the turf/grass after an offseason hiatus.... 

tdible2132's picture

I apologize in advance if this is a stupid question, but are we going to be doing that Training Days show again? I felt that show was a big shot in the arm for the program last year especially in recruiting, and I think it could do wonders if we do it again this year.  My guess is that they haven't even decided what schools will do the show this year, but I was just wondering if anyone had heard anything on it. Thanks!

tennbuckeye19's picture

I haven't heard anything, but I'm pretty sure that was a one time deal, like HBO's Hard Knocks profiles a different team each year. I think the big story of Urban Meyer's first camp @ OSU and OSU coming off one of the worst in program history and the NCAA sanctions and whatnot was the intriguing draw for ESPN. I would think they'll choose a different team this year. Although profiling a team coming off a bowl ban and an undefeated season gunning for a national title would be an interesting watch.

dubjayfootball90's picture

if they do another series on tOSU, I don't even know what I would do. 

Colorado Buckeye's picture

i soooo need this....

Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever!

tdible2132's picture

Yeah that's a good point.  I would be pumped if they did it with us again, but won't get my hopes up.  It'll probably end up all SEC teams or something and Ole Miss will be the headliner.  I'd rather watch paint dry..

dancorona5's picture

I wouldnt be surprised to see them go to Ole Miss...ESPN already has the SEC connection and they just had a huge recruiting class haul. Might try to ride that high.

FLBuckeye's picture

I got a pretty incredible feeling just reading the title of this article. Oh man do I love me some Buckeye football. 

BuckeyeChief's picture

Yep; I am also trying to kill time waiting on advancement results...

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

DaytonBuckeye4life's picture

Yeah spring ball is here might be going to cincy for spring game 
 

Citrus's picture

Plenty of green players on the D. I think we'll see something similar to last year. Offense will overwhelm teams early while the D develops. As the season progress the D will start taking over. Though this year's offense should be far more explosive and consistent. By the time Wisconsin rolls in the town, the D should evolve enough to seal a win.

Heartofohio's picture

Already got my tickets!
 

BIGHEC39's picture

What! How, When, Where?   im from Cali and i been trying to get tickets for that game but there not selling them yet.......   Where can I get them at.....  I gotta check StubHub Again.......  I'm Jealous.....

BigHec39

dlb72osu's picture

Along with Grant it would be a great boost to the defense to see Josh Perry step up his game. I think he is another young linebacker with an incredible talent waiting to emerge. Now if these two can develop their college football smarts to match their physical growth...alongside of RS, formidable!

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
- Invictus

Citrus's picture

I think the lbs are going to surprise people. Grant might accidently decapitate a few players.

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

Excellent point about Jamie Wood. I think his perseverance, determination and overall heart will be something guys can rally around. I've talked to Jamie a few times and he is really nice guy, I bet he is well liked in the locker room and will be a voice for young players to respect and follow.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

81Alum's picture

Yyeeessss, football is back, even if its only Spring practice!

J_Poe's picture

Excited for this season with more play makers on the field. Really want to see what Jalin Marshall makes of his self 

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I hope to see a well rounded offense this year.  3000 passing and 2000+ rushing.  I'd like to see Hyde and Braxton both over a thousand yards.  On defense I'd like to see some of these young studs step in and play quality football.  Who doesn't want to see this tho?

buckeye76BHop's picture

Great stuff Kyle...really liked this part:

Those victories will pile up thanks in large put to a potent offense. Ohio State averaged a Big Ten-best 37.2 points per game a season ago and ranked second in the conference in total offense and yards per game. 

This part was a bit bothersome but we've got personnel unlike last year to help out.  They are inexperienced for sure....but raw talent is not a bad thing to have.  I'd say this and this will help...

“Our D-line is not stable and our linebacker position is not stable,” Meyer said. “So you throw the back end in that, we're dealing with an unstable defense. That's big.”

Dline will be ok...

And so will the Linebackers....not to mention Ty Lewis, M&M and TJ will be joining the mix;-)

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

BIGHEC39's picture

Ok I See big Grant there, I see perkins, I see Shazier & Cam Williams but I'm not to sure who the rest are.    Please help?
 
These are some big kids......  I see grant becoming a Maniac & I see Shazier running all over the place making plays, I just dont know who else is going to step up and take that other spot..... I'm pulling for Jamal Marcus, Cam Williams & David Perkins in no special order.....
 
Go Bucks......

BigHec39

ARMYBUCK's picture

There are a lot of underclassmen that Im pulling for but I really cant wait for Jamal Marcus to see the field.  To this day I havent gotten his recruitment videos out of my head.  High ceiling, anyone?

bcarp87's picture

Only 5 freshman in Spring Ball? Isn't this a lot lower than usual?

MediBuck's picture

I'm disgustingly excited about this upcoming season.
The first year of Pax Meyer was a surprise for me, seeing so much burst and ingenuity out of the Scarlet and Grey. This second season will allow us to see what his true vision for the program is, complete with his type of gamebreaking playmakers on both sides of the ball. I simply cannot wait to see what kids like Elliot, Mitchell, Bell, and Wilson will do in a system tailor-made for their athleticism.

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

SPreston2001's picture

Naw more like year three is when he will have everything in place. We still have alot of Tressel boys on the team. Not saying he hasnt added his type of players but we still got a year or two before this is truly a Urban Meyer type of team.

MediBuck's picture

I agree with you that next season is not going to be 100% Urban Meyer football, but at least we'll see some personnel who actually fit the system starting to creep into the lineup. We didn't quite have the track stars and shakers usually found in Meyer's spread, and the added dimension they'll bring to our punch-em-in-the-mouth offense will be a sight to behold :)

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

BoFuquel's picture

Our hope is in A-WASH.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

fear_the_nut70's picture

This appeared in the first few lines of this article:
Anything less than a national championship, not just playing in the game, will be considered a failure by many.
I see this a lot, by fans of many teams, and I have two distinct thoughts, one specific to OSU and one not:
1.  While 2012 was great, most probably agree we over achieved a bit and had a fairly weak schedule to contend with.  While it makes sense that optimism is high, we will be very young on defense (i believe seven new starters).  I think we will have at least 2 new offensive lineman, and I still say the receivers we had last year were below average.  While we brought in some real play makers on O, I really wonder how much true freshman can be expected to contribute.  And while I really hope Braxton improves his passing game, I will need to see significant improvement to think we can win at this high level in a game that has now become a pass first game.   And of course, many are already saying that weak schedule could be a barrier.  I am not saying all the pieces can't come together, they absolutely could, but expecting it seems to be a bit much at this point.
2.  This is a more general criticism of fans, but it almost seems like fans have adopted a "win it all or the season was a bust" mentality.  There are 126 FBS teams, and even if you say realistically only 30 or so are in the hunt every year, it seems very unrealistic to adopt this position.  Is it the goal, yes.  But everything has to go perfectly such as avoiding major injuries, players develop and congeal faster than the norm, other teams suffer key losses, etc.  I know this is Ohio State and goals should be set  as high as possible, but realistically we would have to go undefeated like last season (with of course two more "tough" games played) in what would amount to back to back seasons.  How often has that happened?  I just think some are setting themselves up to be disappointed.
I am predicting 11-1, B1G championship, Rose Bowl win (which would leave us 13-1) overall.  That would be a pretty damn good season, but I wonder how many would be left seriously disappointed.  I hope I am wrong as I too want to vanish demons from 06 and 07, but feel that I am a pretty realistic Buckeye fan.
 

Ahh Saturday's picture

So, what were "realistic" Buckeye fans predicting before last season? 9-3? 8-4? The reality last year was that despite the questions surrounding the team, there was no team on the schedule last year that didn't have at least as many questions to answer. Once again the Buckeyes enter the season with questions. Will Washington and the rest of the DL do what needs to be done? Will we find a MLB? Will the team come together like last year's did? But what team on the schedule has fewer questions? What team has more talent? It seems "realistic" to say we'll lose a game, but who on the s he ups do concede a loss to?

fear_the_nut70's picture

You raise a valid point.  I said 9-3 or if all went right, 10-2.  I was obviously wrong.  I am NOT discounting the possibility of an undefeated season.  I guess what I am saying is this idea where "only winning it all" is acceptable is a bit unrealistic, that's all.
Also, a championship team doesn't depend just on the teams that are on "your schedule" which was part of my point.  It is not out of the realm of possibilities that this team could go undefeated and not get a shot in the title game because of SOS (clearest example would be two other big time programs also left undefeated at the end of the season, or gulp, a one loss SEC team).  This is one more reason fans should not adopt a "all the eggs in the championship basket" mentality. 
Finally, I never concede a loss ever.  Ask me places where i see a reasonable chance of an upset, and that isn't too hard (so yes, I am saying I guess I expect to be favored in all games).  Let me ask you this, what percentage of CFB seasons do you think end up undefeated?  One half of one percent?  Little bit more, little bit less?

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

The improvement the Buckeyes made from the 2011 TTUN game to the 2012 opener vs. Miami to the 2012 TTUN game was amazing to me. The learning and improvement curve for 2013 even comes close to what we've seen in the last 15-16 months and it is entirely reasonable to think OSU by late November 2013 can compete for a national title. If we make it to the NCG and lose we're still going to have a TON of talent back for 2014 and even 2015 if this year's freshmen start to mature quickly. I agree, I wouldn't consider not winning a national championship a disappointment. I WOULD consider a regression to a 2-3 loss season as one, however. Like I said, logic dictates if the improvement curve continues as it has a worse season than 2012 will be less likely, not impossible, but less likely. Only way to go is up at this point.

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

13THandSummit's picture

The coloring in the first photo makes it look like a screen shot from ncaa 13'. Fitting, given the X-Brax nickname.

Hovenaut's picture

"But we're not even close to the potential that we think we can be."

Gold.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes