Competition Never Ends at Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on September 5, 2013 at 9:15a
In a word, Ohio State's practices are fierce.

Ohio State enters Saturday’s game with San Diego State as the second-ranked team in the nation. The Buckeyes are coming off an undefeated season and sit squarely at the table, along with Alabama, as national title contenders.

Yet, head coach Urban Meyer insists Ohio State is playing catch-up. 

“Some people think we’re the hunted,” he said. “I don’t feel that way at all. We’re the hunter. Everybody wants an angry football team. Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team. If you’re a hunter, that usually equates to being hungry.”

Meyer and his staff have managed to keep the Buckeyes aimed toward besting and respecting opponents. A 40-20 win over Buffalo served as both evidence of how good Ohio State is and evidence of how far it still has to go.

The first quarter was a period of bliss for fans. Touchdowns on three straight possessions, trickeration on two-point plays and a glimpse of an improved Braxton Miller and freshman speedster Dontre Wilson. A 23-0 lead put the game out of reach before the first 15 minutes were over.

The final three quarters led to the question marks. Buffalo outscored the Buckeyes 20-17 while cramps overtook the Ohio State bench. Several players said the quick lead contributed to the sloppy play. Instead of keeping the foot on the gas, they eased into the rest of the game.

Don’t expect that to become a routine. On Saturday, Ohio State welcomes back two starters on defense and a regular contributor on offense. It’s meant an extra competitive week in practice. Just how Meyer wants it.

“If there’s competition, there’s no complacency,” he said. “Every coach, if you say, ‘What do you want in your program?’ He would say, ‘To be three-deep at each position.’ Every day, those kids go out and really practice or else they won’t play. If you don’t have that, that’s when complacency can set in.”

It’s only the first week of September – and the AP Poll doesn’t factor into the Buckeyes’ postseason plans – but an expert motivator like Meyer is sure to let the team know there’s some disrespect among the media. It could lead to 60 minutes of relentless effort, which doesn’t bode well for San Diego State.

“If there’s competition, there’s no complacency.”

Ohio State spent last Saturday tinkering with the playbook and toying with various formations to see how they stack up against a live defense. This week has been the time to reevaluate those plays and modify them. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said Wilson would receive a condensed set of plays in the opening weeks that specifically utilize his attributes. Consider those wide receiver plays.

“He’s more of a receiver right now,” Meyer said on Wednesday.

It’s not a giant shock to the system. The Buckeyes are deep at running back, and that doesn’t include suspended starter Carlos Hyde. The backfield became a concern during fall camp when Hyde and Rod Smith were both suspended. But Jordan Hall’s career-high performance, plus the use of numerous other backs, quickly put those fears to rest.

In line with the never satisfied, always compete motto of his head coach, Hall’s first words when speaking to reporters this week included talk of improving.

“I’ve got a lot to get better at,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do personally and as a team.”

Meyer said Hall will start again this week with the second-team running back remaining undecided. The return of Smith, the inevitable return of Hyde and depth at the position could spell a role change for Hall. He could move into the hybrid position and shift into the backfield every so often, or Ohio State could keep him in the backfield full-time.

The options have kept Hall going 100 percent in practice. There are only so many footballs to go around, and this year marks the final chapter in Hall’s career. He knows constant production will result in touching the ball.

“I’m always a firm believer if a running back gets the hot foot and gets in the rhythm during the course of the game, then it does that back an injustice for me to take him out at that time when he’s got a rhythm going,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said.

Said Hall: “There’s only one ball. When you get the opportunity, you have to make it happen with that opportunity. It is difficult. There are running backs who didn’t get on the field. We know when we come onto the field, you’ve got to make plays and make things happen.”

For the Buckeyes, the competition never stops. Every practice, every carry and every play presents an opportunity to stand out and highlight yourself.

“These guys get what they deserve,” Drayton said.


Comments Show All Comments

Remington2323's picture

Thanks for the write up Kyle. I believe we are all ready for another Saturday.

jdagrava.1's picture

I'm most certainly ready.  I know that it is best to ignore the people in the media, but it was a hard pill to swallow seeing "experts" drop the Bucks to as low as 6th in the country after the first week of the season.  I hope Meyer unleashes this team on both sides of the ball and leaves no doubt that the Buckeyes are a dominant force and legitimate national title contenders.

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

CC's picture

Lesmersis had us at 9th...

The Butler's picture

If you win, the rankings will take care of themselves. A win is a win, by 6, or by 46, in the win column, it is all the same. 

I've trained Canaries in the sport of falconry.


alust2013's picture

Competition is always good and welcome, but I do feel bad for the guys who get completely buried in the depth chart just because there are so many good options and not enough touches to go around. This is especially true with the running backs, as it seems to me that we have at least three starting-caliber backs in Hall, Hyde, and Smith. The other guys may be that good too, we just haven't seen enough.

...and Michigan still sucks.

cinserious's picture

For everybody buried on the depth chart, all I can say is stay humble, keep your head down and work hard. Always be ready because the team may need to call on you sooner than expected. Hyde was top dog last year (J. Hall was sidelined) but in 2011 he was buried and felt he had no role. All of our RBs are closer to being top-dog than they think.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

pjtobin's picture

I'm super excited to see the improvement ! I was happy with the buttkickin we gave last week. I can't imagine these guys going out as hunters. Look out America. TOSU isn't playing anymore. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Phillips.449's picture

I am excited to see us play up to our potential and not down to the competition like I know we have in past years.

johnny11's picture

I really would like to see Rod Smith get his hands on the ball early in the game and see what he can do with it. I know Smith is a polarizing figure, because of how good or bad he can be at any given moment. To me though I think with a few touches early he can gain confidence and we will see if he can show us the consistency we have been waiting for. Go bucks

Gulfstreambuckeye's picture

It will be nice to see a guy that can break tackles and make people miss.

Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust...but life goes on.

holtzy's picture

I love how Meyer always says what the rest of us are thinking.  Very blunt and to the point and always tells it like it is.

buckeyepastor's picture

Hoping that this week we play hard for 4 quarters.  Given the heat and the depleted numbers we went in with, I can understand even Meyer pulling a bit of a "Tressel" and buttoning things up a bit with a big early lead.   It seems reasonable and likely to me that the coaches put a premium on staying healthy last weekend.   
I am looking forward to seeing Smith get some touches.   Hall is playing well, and can run between the tackles, but Smith and Hyde are better between the tackles than Hall.  Weeks 1-4, our big, physical backs won't be as essential.   But when we welcome Wisconsin to the 'Shoe, we will likely need them.  The fact that Hyde will come into that game fresh and hungry (given what I've heard, I imagine Hyde will be used sparingly against FAMU and then more so at N'Western) excites me.   
I hope that the drop to #3 does get the team motivated.   And I understand the media's decision.   While OSU dominated the game statistically, it was very inconsistent while other teams were not.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Haybucks's picture

The calendar says it's Aztec Season!  Time to go hunting!

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


dean7647's picture

Let's put together 4 quarters like the first one last week.  Leave no doubt we're nothing less than the 2nd best team in the nation.

ChazBuckeye's picture

“Some people think we’re the hunted,” he said. “I don’t feel that way at all. We’re the hunter. Everybody wants an angry football team. Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team. If you’re a hunter, that usually equates to being hungry.”

I found a new signature for my account;-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

ejoceans's picture

If they don't bring it this week then when?? I really hope to see the team everyone is talking about very soon or we will be just another over rated big ten team! LETS GET ARE S**T TOGETHER BUCKS!!! YOU ARE BETTER THAN THAT!

Lets do this Brutus

MusicBuck's picture

I don't know about you all, but I really love watching Braxton throw the long ball. Our receivers seem to really know how to go up and get it too.
I definitely hope to see him chuck up a few more 40+ yarders this week.

Eine kleine nacht musik.