On Hope and the Buckeyes

By Jeff Beck on January 6, 2014 at 1:00p
63 Comments
Hope Springs Eternal

The loss Friday hurt. There’s no denying it. The only possible way to make winning 24 straight games feel not-so-hot is by losing the last two on the biggest of stages. But, contrary to Friday night’s popular belief, the sun did rise Saturday morning. Now, with a few days to reflect there’s reason for hope. I know it’s hard to see as many of you are still wrapped in grief cocoons (understandably) but I’m here to tell you the future is bright.

Here’s why.

Braxton Miller

Reports indicate No. 5 will be returning for his senior season. This is absolutely the best thing for both parties involved. Miller needs another year to hone his passing game, which wavered down the stretch as the weather and competition got harsher. The Buckeyes need the experience of a veteran signal caller to balance out the loss of their offensive line and bowling ball of a back, Carlos Hyde.

Bosa'dYoung guns like Joey Bosa are positioned to elevate OSU

Miller is a playmaker. You don’t win two Chicago Tribune Silver Footballs on accident. With that said, he still has something to prove in the passing game. Much of the talk headed into the season revolved around Miller’s improvement as a gun-slinger, and during some games his progress was evident (Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue come to mind).

However, in the last three games of the season we saw a Braxton too quick to lock onto one receiver then take off if that individual wasn’t open. The result was a completion percentage under 50% in two of the last three games.

The good news is Ohio State has one of the most relentless QB coaches in the country in Tom Herman. Make no mistake, as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Miami, Herman was thinking of ways to get better in 2014. Miller and Herman have an excellent relationship and if Braxton makes strides similar to those between his sophomore and junior season, he’ll be in New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Just stay healthy No. 5. Buckeye Nation is elated to have you back.

Young Guns

Much hand-wringing occurred after it was reported both Bradley Roby and Noah Spence wouldn’t take the field for the Orange Bowl. The two were arguably the best players on an already shaky unit. Stepping in to take their place would be sophomores Armani Reeves, Jamal Marcus and true freshman Vonn Bell.

The trio played admirably against a Clemson offense that possessed NFL ready weapons in Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. The much maligned Reeves looked markedly better in coverage while Marcus tallied six tackles and a pass-breakup. Bell was burned early on a Sammy Watkins TD grab, but later came up with one of the highlights of the game, snatching a Boyd pass out of the sky with one hand to keep the Tigers out of the endzone and swing momentum.

These players along with guys like Joey Bosa, Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott, Pat Elfein and the confident Michael Thomas are all young and hungry to make a name for themselves. Another offseason with Mickey Marotti is going to do wonders for most of these kids who are just a year or two removed from high school, and there’s no doubting the younguns can ball.

This is the new reality at Ohio State. Gone are the years where players have to wait until their junior or senior season to see significant playing time. Urban Meyer and staff are recruiting at an unbelievable clip, and they are just now getting their players into the system. The caliber of kid they are recruiting can come in and make a difference right away, and they are bringing in two or three blue chips at each position. On paper the cabinets looked more stocked than they’ve ever been.  Which brings us to…

Recruiting

Ohio State lost the Orange Bowl Friday night then woke up Saturday morning to commitments from two of the best prospects in the country. The news moved Ohio State into 24/7’s No. 2 spot in their composite rankings behind only Alabama. Undoubtedly the class is positioned to remain in the top 5, making this the third year in a row Meyer has reeled in a class ranked 5 or higher (2013 was No. 2).

Jim Tressel was excellent at bringing in three star recruits and grooming them into studs (see Dane Sanzenbacher, James Laurinaitis and Troy Smith). But, when he got the occasional 5-star like Maurice Clarett or Terrelle Pryor, they elevated the program; winning BCS bowl games and national championships. In his 10 years at the helm, Tressel reeled in 13 five star recruits. That’s nothing to scoff at. But, in just three years as the head man Meyer has already brought in nearly half that, amassing 5-five stars from 2012 to the present.

No one can say how many of these elite H.S. players will pan out. For every Chris Wells, there’s a Robert Rose. However, there’s no denying stockpiling that kind of talent is ALWAYS a good thing and Meyer intends to do exactly that. What should scare the B1G is where Urban is pulling these players from. Gone are the days of building a fence around Ohio and grabbing the state’s best players. Over the past three offseasons the Buckeye recruiting machine honed in on the best players in the country, regardless of location, to outfit them in the Scarlet and Gray.

Urban Meyer

Last but certainly not least, Buckeye fans can take solace in the fact that they’ve got one of the best college football coaches in the country. Meyer has won everywhere he’s been and he’s doing it again in Columbus. While Meyer lacks a signature win as the Buckeyes’ head man, one can sense it’s only a matter of time. Urban hates losing. Hates it more than anything.

That fire is going to be the catalyst for change in 2014. Do things need to be re-tooled during the offseason? Yes, and I think Meyer would be the first to tell you. Buckeye Nation should trust Meyer to pull the right levers to correct the issues. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to do the right thing. Trust in Meyer and that trust will set you free.


It’s going to be a defining offseason for the Buckeyes. Losing the last two will remain sour for a time, but one can’t help but be excited for the future of the program. The star QB is coming back, young talent is here, more is on the way and they’ll be led by Urban F. Meyer.

Hope. What an amazing thing.

63 Comments

Comments

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

While not perfect, I agree that Reeves redeemed himself a little in that bowl game ... saw flashes of a bright future

SilverState's picture

Excited for all the new names to be made...

RedStorm45's picture

No offense (and I'm prepared for the onslaught of DV's), I think Urban and the staff got outcoached the last two games.  At the very least, it was a wash against Clemson, although it doesn't take a genius to figure out "Bubble screen right.  Bubble screen left.  Repeat."  And that was with a month to prepare for that game.  4th quarter play-calling in both games will be questioned in the off-season I'm sure.  Don't get me wrong, there's no one else I'd rather have as HC but can we stop putting a crown on the guy as a big game coach?  He's lost his two biggest games at OSU through 26 games.  I can't blame them squarely on him as the coordinators are heavily involved and we had some young guys making first-time starts in the OB and Sparty's D was the best in the country.  Like I said, I think he's the right man for the job but some fans need to stop thinking "oh...big game? Of course Urban will win."  Just my 2 cents.  As it was pointed out, he needs to prove he can win big games at Ohio State, not just dominate unranked opponents.  I'm hopeful we'll return to winning big games in 2014 and beyond with Urbs.

fear_the_nut70's picture

He has played in two NC games and won them both.  Those are pretty big games.  He is 4-1 in BCS bowls, also not too shabby.  No one wins them all.  Not Saban, not Meyer, no one.
A little perspective please.

BuckNutzGasMan's picture

Can Jamal Marcus play LB?

BuckNutzGasMan's picture

I guess my real question is can Noah Bosa and Marcus play at the same time?

GH_Lindsey's picture

Considering that they play different positions and played most of the Orange Bowl snaps together, yes, they can.
 
You should be asking if Spence and Marcus can play at the same time

ToledoBuckeye's picture

Spence and Noah are the same person.

"Anything easy ain't worth a damn." - Woody Hayes
 

RedStorm45's picture

He is asking can Spence (Noah), Bosa, and Marcus all play together.  Spence as the Viper, Bosa at SDE, and Marcus as one of the outside backers.  Or move Bosa to DT and have two pass rushers on the edge.  COULD happen but not too likely unless Marcus is a beast at OLB.

fear_the_nut70's picture

The more guys you can rotate in on the D line the better, as it takes a lot of energy to rush the passer time and time again.  Depth on the D line is a huge advantage.

NitroBuck's picture

Yup, and that depth is what hurt about Spence being out.  Marcus and Bosa played well, but I did not see much from the 2nd guys in the rotation.  I saw Washington in there, I presume behind Bosa, but did not see him making plays like he did last year.  Once Bosa got banged up, we didn't have much in the way of a pass rush.

Ferio, tego

Buckeye Scottie's picture

How about, Can Jamal Marcus play? 
And the answer to that is YES!  I don't care where he plays, he was more than SOLID on Friday night.

Hovenaut's picture

Is it August 30th yet?
 

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

fear_the_nut70's picture

This sounds like Texas fans saying "just go get Saban."
Sounds good, but I can't imagine him just leaving MSU to coach for us.  Not to mention most contracts have out clauses if you take a head coaching job, but some do not have out clauses for essentially lateral movements.  Admittedly, I know nothing about Narduzzi's contract, but this thinking strikes me as a little delusional.  Oh, and just to the right, you might want to check out the link that says "Narduzzi a candiate for Louisville HC job."

Earle's picture

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

gwalther's picture

Looks like he got one for asking the question... Guess that's learning the hard way.

Class of 2008

Earle's picture

Yeah, that's a shame, he clearly didn't know better.  I wonder if the site redesign will allow those who can't yet vote to at least be able to see the voting.

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

Earle's picture

Duplicate post

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

1967Buck's picture

Thanks Jeff, a very nice write up. I wonder if you have any Info on the OSU staff? Peace and Go Bucks!!

osu07asu10's picture

This is the new reality at Ohio State. Gone are the years where players have to wait until their junior or senior season to see significant playing time.

I'm not sure that's really accurate. Tressel opened the season with the first true freshman at RB in school history. Also turned to a true freshman at QB (Pryor). Teddy Ginn comes to mind as a freshman that earned significant time. Malcolm Jenkins saw significant time as a freshman. Whitner saw action in 13 games.
 
I look forward to the day when Meyer starts a true freshman at QB, RB, WR, or in the DB.
 

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

bcarp87's picture

Completely agree with you. I have heard that comment or similar a few times and am confused every time. I remember during Tressel's first few years, everyone said the same thing. What true freshman over the last two years has seen significant playing time? Spence is the only one I can think of and defensive line is one of the less challenging mentally (not saying it's easy).

CC's picture

Bosa and to a lesser extent, Wilson

Furious George 27's picture

True but only 5 players came to mind in 10 seasons for Tressel.... Washington, Bosa, Spence, Wilson and Bell are players that had significant time as freshman and do not forget all of the 2nd year players that were starting this season. I think it was more of a suggestion that Tressel would go with experience over the most talented player more times than not. If we realistically look at Meyer's 1st class, I believe 18 or so were already committed before he was coach and he closed out by landing some of the top players to make it top 5 and those players are the one's that are making an impact now i.e. Washington, Spence & Schutt... I believe the depth and experience is being built, they just need an identity.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

osu07asu10's picture

AJ Hawk played in all 14 games as a freshman.
Chris Gamble played in 11 games as a freshman.
Chris Wells had 104 carries as a freshman and ran for 1600 yds as a sophomore.
Antonio Pittman carried it 72 times as a freshman. 
Maurice Wells carried it 62 times as a freshman.
Johnathan Hankins played in 13 games a freshman
John Simon played in 13 games a freshman.
 
Bell did not have significant playing time this season. For the DL, Bosa I give you, Spence and Washington played as much as John Simon did his freshman year.
Dontre Wilson playing time? 31 rush attempts and he was largely missing once Hyde returned.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

osu07asu10's picture

and do not forget all of the 2nd year players that were starting this season.

1 sophomore on offense?
Bosa, and 2 sophomores on defense?
For comparison's sake:
2011: Offense started 1 freshman and 2 sophomore / Defense started 2 sophomore and a freshman
2010: Offense started 2 sophomores / Defense started 2 sophomores
So I am struggling to see your point? Meyer does not play younger guys as a higher rate than Tressel did. 

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

dlb72osu's picture

osu07 Very nice posts. These were the people I had thought about and the time each played. Thanks for being there!

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

dlb72osu's picture

 
Your statement about Tressle "opened" the season with the first true freshman running back in school history is only halfway correct. In 1972 Woody had a freshman running back named Archie Griffin, although Archie was not on the field for the first play of the season. He did however lead the team in rushing his freshman year and the three subsequent years thereafter.

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

osu07asu10's picture

Your statement about Tressleel "opened" the season with the first true freshman running back in school history is only halfway correct.

That is why I said opened. Maurice was the only freshman RB penciled in to OPEN the year. I know Archie earned the job his freshman year, but he fumbled his first carry and didn't play the rest of the first game, game 2 was his coming out party.
I know it is somewhat of a technicality but Tressel had MoC as his starter for game 1 and never wavered.
 The point is, Tressel absolutely played freshman and Urban doesn't play them more than other coaches.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

Bamabucknut's picture

Ever try to win a race carrying a 25 lb anvil ? You may win against very slow runners. Not against good or great runners....no matter how good you are as a runner.
That is what we have been doing.The results won't change till we get rid of that anvil(starting with Fickell).
Forget about "the chase" ..untill we shed some dead weight.

dlb72osu's picture

 
Until UFM drops the hammer, if ever, you are simply barking up a dead horse's ass. If you think UFM is going to be swayed by public opinion please remember he doesn't read these posts, nor does he care about these posts. Let it be.

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

wyatt's picture

Vonn Bell looked like the best receiver on the team. Leaping... with one hand... protecting the ball...at a critical time.    Can he play both ways?

mc22's picture

This may be surprising but Louisville had one of the best defenses  - statistically  - this year.
With Charlie Strong leaving - and ties to urban - would Vance Bedford be someone we would look at?
Just thinking out loud - I know we have a D coordinator in place - at least in title.

Whoa Nellie's picture

It would be nice, IMO.  But, I suspect Bedford, who played for UT, will be joining Strong as the DC there.  May become the first (?) college non-head coach to make 7 figures.  Think he made 800K at UL.

“Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”

cuttyrock's picture

If Bedford goes I would offer Duane Akina. He is currently the Texas db coach and he has a lot of NFL players and recruiting Texas would be even easier. 12 drafted db in the last 10 years isn't bad especially when 5 have been in the last three years and two have been at safety. Safety, guards, center, and now rb are hard to be a first round pick so two safeties is very impressive. 

cdub4's picture

I think Chad Morris and Kirby Smart make 7 figures.

Ethos's picture

Bell was burned early on a Sammy Watkins TD grab,

 
No he didn't! ugh... I'm not going to explain it all again, but let's just say he got boned by his fellow teammate.

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

RedStorm45's picture

Jeff clearly didn't see the screen grab (from 11W?) in which the saftey TRIPLE TEAMED the TE, leaving Bell out to dry.

ChazBuckeye's picture

" Urban hates losing. Hates it more than anything.

That fire is going to be the catalyst for change in 2014. Do things need to be re-tooled during the offseason? Yes, and I think Meyer would be the first to tell you. Buckeye Nation should trust Meyer to pull the right levers to correct the issues. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to do the right thing. Trust in Meyer and that trust will set you free."
^^^This√

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.

BoFuquel's picture

Hope is the best your live your life. In my life The Buckeyes football team have met my expectations about 9% of the time. 91% of football seasons end in total disaster. I'm a fan of TOSU. GO BUCKS!

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

ScarletNGrey01's picture

You are a fan although 91% of the time a buckeye football season ends in total disaster.  Got it.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Jeff, fantastic article and a must read for "the sky is falling" variety of fan.  I'm all for constructive criticism, arm chair coaching, hindsight, occasional venting ... I partake in all of that myself, but you are right, despite our concern for the defensive problems as of late there are a ton of positives and unbelievable potential to look forward to.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

okiebuck's picture

Braxton should go to the Manning Passing Academy this summer.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Good idea, he just needs to make sure to show up on time.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

klfeck's picture

So when we want to acclaim Urbz recruiting,  we say he has five 5 stars in two years, but when we want to make excuses for him we say just wait until he gets his players into the system. Which one is it, cause it can't be both? Surely we are not blaming Tressel for this Defense, because he sure as hell never fielded a defense like this.

Kevin
OH!!!!!
Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

fear_the_nut70's picture

Here to me is the upside of 24-2 the last two seasons and where we stand right now:
This is what Urban did with kids that were recruited by someone else.  Let's not forget he inherited a team that was 6-7 and as close to a dumpster fire as Ohio State football gets.
For the most part, the bulk of your core players on a winning team are juniors and seniors, and only a handful of juniors were even recruited by Meyer himself.  There is no question that recruiting is on an uptick, so to me, that is where the hope lies.
I too am concerned about the defense and am curious to see what UFM does to fix this mess.  Like many on here, I trust a man who has won everywhere, has two NC rings, and is a tireless worker.  We may be disappointed at the way the season ended, but there are about 120 FBS schools that would kill for that two year run.

BassDropper's picture

This is what Urban did with kids that were recruited by someone else.

 
You what Urban did at his last job with kids who were recruited by someone else.....win a NC. 
 
 

DIRECTIONER

fear_the_nut70's picture

Could it be that the kids recruited by someone else at UF were more talented than the kids recruited by someone else here?  Just a thought...

klfeck's picture

Or, it could be that he had better defensive coaching........
 
First time in school history that OSU lost while scoring 35 points in a game.

Kevin
OH!!!!!
Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

buckeye20's picture

Last Friday night we simply did not have enough talent available to put on the field on the defensive side of the ball.  The talent that we did have was inexperienced.  Urban is familiar with defenses that are "Ohio Statish". This years was not. Young DL that performed pretty well all year. Another year or two and we should be where we need to be. 

CC's picture

I totally disagree.  I think we have so much talent it masked how awful our scheme was most of the time.

GoBucksOSU's picture

Would you say the defensive starters overall are anywhere near as talented as the players in the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes? I can tell you I don't think so.

BuckNutzGasMan's picture

We will be fine. Ill take 12-1 (24-2 over two years) every year for the next 100 years and be elated.

cuttyrock's picture

I will take it but I want some national championships and undefeated seasons.

fear_the_nut70's picture

We were undefeated last season.
Nancys to come (well, maybe one, but who know), imho

Joe4's picture

I didn't really follow recruiting during the Tressel years, so I was a little surprised to read that he had 13 five-star guys in ten years.  That is 1.3 per year, which isn't so different from what Urban has so far (the article says he has five in three years, or 1.66 per year).  Urban's been getting top-five classes each year; did the Vest do that too? 

Qujo's picture

"This is the new reality at Ohio State. Gone are the years where players have to wait until their junior or senior season to see significant playing time. AND Jim Tressel was excellent at bringing in three star recruits and grooming them into studs (see Dane Sanzenbacher, James Laurinaitis and Troy Smith). But, when he got the occasional 5-star like Maurice Clarett or Terrelle Pryor, they elevated the program; winning BCS bowl games and national championships. "
THAT my friends is the difference between Tressel and Meyers. Look no further than Tressel disciple to see how they won the B1G this year and thier BCS bowl game (Dantonio). Seniors and Juniors coached up and with significant experience that minimized mistakes and capitalized on sound gap alignment (D). That is how tOSU played D when Tressel was here. The entire philosophy has changed from sound, experienced and disciplined to finesse, talent first - experience second and not enough experience in some cases to be disciplined. Throw the playmakers out there and let them make plays. In some cases they did not. The down side to the Tressel and Dantonio model is when they lose most of thier defense (or offense) they fall back to a middle of the pack B1G team except that Tressel recruited enough talent over other B1G teams that the fall off was less severe. 
 

"Tough times don't last, tough people do" - Gregory Peck

osu07asu10's picture

THAT my friends is the difference between Tressel and Meyers

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

INTLBUCK's picture

Thank you, Jeff, for helping soothe my PBD (Post Buckeye Depression). I was there in Miami, then drove that night 25 hours back to NY. That was a long trip. 
Grab yourself a nice hot cocoa on me and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Here's to hope!

buckeyepastor's picture

i have hope because of Urban, because of our recruits, because of the signs of life with the young pups on both sides of the ball.  
I am happy for Braxton in that returning to OSU will give him another year to develop his game.   I'm skeptical at the moment about the light coming on in terms of OSU's passing game.   Yes, Miller's stats improved from his second to his third season.   Yes, he is a more complete player.  Yes, he is still incredibly talented and yet to hit his "ceiling."  But against good defenses, and particularly in November and in big games the last couple of years, he has appeared frozen with indecision and regressed in his mechanics and decision-making.  
I agree that with a young offensive line, Miller's leadership and athleticism will be very, very valuable for us and make a big difference.   Without Kenny Guiton to step in, there will be a drop off should he be injured.  
Part of me was looking forward to seeing the next starting QB at OSU emerge (whether that be Jones or Barrett) and take his lumps and make some mistakes but begin to grow and take charge.  But will be good to have another year with Braxton.   Hopefully it's a year when the other QBs get their opportunities to lead, as well. 

"Woody would have wanted it that way"