Determined Group of Buckeyes Ready to Confront Unfinished Business

By Kyle Rowland on August 4, 2014 at 1:05p
Devin Smith walks off the field dejected following Ohio State's loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
32 Comments

Fourth and two.

That’s what separated Ohio State from an opportunity to play for a national championship. Twenty-four consecutive wins quickly became irrelevant. Eight months later, fourth and two is a number that’s evolved into a rallying cry. 

“It’s one of those things you have to move on from,” senior tight end and soon-to-be-captain Jeff Heuerman said. “But it’s another one of those things that you’re not going to move on from. So you just kind of harness it and try to take some positives out of it.”

As the 2014 Buckeyes begin fall camp Monday, the focus remains on unfinished business. There are two goals yet to be attained during the Urban Meyer era: a Big Ten championship and a national title.

“When we went 12-0 in the regular season last year, that felt great,” senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. ‘But those are all steps to get to what you really want. So we took steps to the door and got kicked off the porch. We need to finish that now. We need to go through that door.

“I think that's the whole goal now this year. We know it takes each and every game. But when it finally matters to get to what we worked for, it's time to win.”

Meyer’s been through that door twice in a career where wins have flown by like tumbleweed in the southwestern United States. At first glance, it’s easy to define Meyer’s two-year tenure at Ohio State as yet another smashing success. Upon closer examination, though, wins over Michigan are all that’s there.    

Ohio State hasn’t won a conference championship or bowl game since the 2010 season. This year is the final chance for seniors to leave a lasting legacy in Columbus, marking a renewal of met expectations. Losing consecutive games did not appear in the blueprint.

When asked if he’d ever experienced such lowlights – two straight losses – Meyer was dumbfounded. He couldn’t speak because he didn’t know the answer. It’s a yes, most recently in 2010 when Florida lost three in a row. The Buckeyes shouldn’t face a similar streak of futility again this season; not with an offense, defense and special teams intent on setting records.  

It’s all about finishing the chase that began in August 2013.

“This group of seniors doesn’t have that Big Ten championship and we don't have a bowl win,” Heuerman said. “Those are two things we need to accomplish this year, and we're going to do everything we can to do that.”

The expectations don’t change with the flip of a calendar, and they aren’t altered because offensive linemen were lost or a former running back gained 1,500 yards. It’s business as usual at Ohio State. Coaches, players and fans are all thinking Big Ten championship, with an eye on an even bigger prize.  

But the “F” word – failure – will not be uttered if all objectives aren’t reached. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has made it a point to show his dissatisfaction with the Wolverines’ lack of a Big Ten championship during his tenure, referring to each season as a failure. Meyer won’t wade into that territory. 

“Failure? I think that's a strong word,” he said. “There’s injuries, there’s issues. You’ll never see it anywhere in our facilities that the national championship is our goal. Our goal is to win the Big Ten championship. The national championship is something we’re chasing, but there are so many variables. I don’t want our players feeling like they're a failure. Some people did some magical things in that 24-game run. So I don’t use that word.”

Instead of failure when talking about his football team, Meyer opts for the word hungry. He anticipates a group of hyenas will make up the Buckeye roster. There will be no need for motivation. And if the team develops on schedule, there will be no shortage of talent.

Offensive line, skill positions and the secondary all have question marks as camp commences. Priority No. 1 is always the O-line, and Meyer believes growth at the position would bode well for Ohio State’s ambitions.

“If our offensive line develops, we’ll be very good,” he said. “I’m confident, but I have a little apprehension because spring ball was not good.”

The confidence level with the running backs, receivers and secondary is higher. All are unproven, but talented. The defensive backs and safeties will have a new look, which is a welcome sight for Meyer and anxious fans who ran out of patience in 2013.

“We completely blew it up,” Meyer said. “Anything associated with that is completely changed, and it had to change.”

However, images of a fourth-and-two gone wrong will not fade.

“You’re obviously not going to wake up and forget about it,” Heuerman said. “That’s not realistic.”

32 Comments

Comments

whiskeyjuice's picture

"You'll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. As a matter of fact, I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face." -- Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+7 HS
TheShookster's picture

I really want to get my hopes up that we will atone for everything that happened at the end of last season...there's just too many games on the schedule that worry me even though they shouldn't. I hope that "hungry" is never replace by "entitled."

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Fourth and two is now part of Buckeye lore, the bad side of the ledger. Regardless of how a tilt with Crabcake Winston would have turned out, it would have been better to play for a title. 

New season. New slate. Same goal.

Go get it done Buckeyes!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

cw823's picture

That matchup with FSU would have been humiliating.  I'm not sure why most Buckeye fans yet another national title humiliation last year.  We got a much better matchup with a beatable Clemson team.

move on.

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Ya know what they say, "opinions are like assholes; everyone has one."

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+1 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

Everybody (outside of Ohio) said the Miami would blow OSU out the stadium in the 02 National Title game, we all know how that ended.

"You'll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. As a matter of fact, I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face." -- Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+4 HS
GoBucksOSU's picture

That is usually what I say but the OSU secondary was just too bad to pull out a win against FSU. Then again I also thought FSU would shred Auburn in a blow out win.

+3 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

That's the thing about speculation, it's easy to say FSU would Blow out OSU but there are too many variables that could change the game. If games were based on stats and predictions then why play? FSU could very easily have destroyed OSU last year but on the other hand, Bosa could have sacked their QB and gave him a shoulder injury. Assuming the back up to James isn't on the same level, I'm sure that would have made things easier for OSU's defense. 

Just because we lost to MSU and Clemson doesn't mean we would have lost to anybody else. You see it all the time where a team may lose to another sub-par team but then the following week they may win against a much stronger opponent. 

"You'll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. As a matter of fact, I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face." -- Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+2 HS
cw823's picture

Florida State 51, Clemson 14.

Mortc15's picture

Whether they would have or not, isn't the point. I'd rather play for it all and lose every single time than settle for something else. 

Just my opinion though. 

Buck-I4Life

+2 HS
theopulas's picture

because you say it doesn't make it so....MSU might have beat FSU last year if they had played and maybe us too....the traditional last game and then championship game may have been to much....

Theopulas

-1 HS
CGroverL's picture

I thought the same things but didn't say them, I chose a much more indecent way to prove my point. As of right now at 8:47 p.m. ET. I just thought you'd like to know that we are both in negative numbers right now as both of us are at -1 in HS. No Buckeye fans acts as if they would have lost ANY GAME against ANY TEAM before game time. Being down by 30 points with 4 minutes, I can understand, but no Buckeye fan actually thinks a loss is on the way pre-game, and this guy or gal that wrote the comment is no true Buckeye fan if they thought that what happens in games is a prediction of games to come. If that kind of thinking were true, Ohio State would have lost the 2002 BCS Title Game by at least 3 TD's.....and if the refs would have been correct with around 2:30 seconds remaining in the game, that game never would have seen any football past the 4th quarter as the Buckeyes caught a first down pass (from Krenzel to Gamble inside the 2:40 second mark of the 4th period) as the Buckeye offense would then have ran Clarett 3 times which at the best for the Miami squad, would probably had less than a minute to get into FG range to tie if Ohio State goes 3 and out. The OT and anything that happened in or after the first OT should be meaningless...thankfully Referee Magazine put Terry Porter in the top 20 for his calls and "fairness to the game" into effect for his work in the 2002 season's championship game.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

-1 HS
CGroverL's picture

Let me say nicely that you are full of crap. First of all, I have no idea what your second sentence means as I believe a word is missing or maybe more than just one word is missing. If you think that Florida State was unbeatable in 2013, you are very wrong. They won in the championship game by 3 points playing a game that can be won by the underdog here and there. It happens EVERY WEEK. Besides, every member of Buckeye Nation goes into EVERY game thinking that the Buckeyes are going to win, don't they? I can personally say that I have been a Buckeye fan for my entire life and NEVER have I gone into a football team against ANY TEAM EXPECTING A LOSS. ARE YOU A BUCKEYE FAN? Really a Buckeye fan.....

Teams are upset EVERY WEEK, but believe it or not, Ohio State is most probably the team that has been upset the least. When Ohio State plays a football game at home, not one of those Buckeye fans are thinking things like "Nebraska is 6-0 and ranked #2, the Buckeyes are 5-0 and ranked #11, there is a good shot the Buckeyes may come up short against the 'Huskers". Not one Buckeye fan is thinking about anything but burying those bastards...What happened to you? You surely aren't like most Buckeye fans.

Oh...The Buckeyes have been huge underdogs before in huge games. Their 2002 team's offense was led by a freshman RB and Vegas had Miami as 19 point underdogs after the game was announced, that went down to 14 on the day before the game only to drop to 11.5 at game time. Miami went into that game as winners of 34 straight games including the National Title the season before. In my local paper, the lead sportswriter (if I remember correctly, upon looking it up, I couldn't find it...I had the copy, but a house flood ruined it) predicted a final score of Miami 45, Ohio State 13...plus he added a picture of a 6-pack of bottles (remember those?) that had 5 bottles in the holder while the sixth was being slid in signifying that Miami was a shoo-in for their 6th title.

Is that what your story had sounded like if Ohio State met Florida State in the 2013 Championship Game? Would you have had the balls to put a picture showing for sure doom for Ohio State while writing that the best part of their team was their punt team? This guy at the Orlando Sentinel did. I have a feeling that...had Ohio State beaten Michigan State, your story would be explaining away the Seminoles' edge in points given to them by Vegas. You would have probably picked the Buckeyes to win the game too...You wanna know why? EVERY member of Buckeye Nation always thinks Ohio State is going to win EVERY GAME regardless of the opponent or when and where the game is played. "Another national title humiliation?" What in the hell are you talking about? This Buckeye team has lost big less than 5 times since Jim Tressel took over in 2001. Even their biggest loss in 2011 was a 24-6 loss (I believe, I'm not going to research it). They lost by 10 to TSUN and their other 5 losses were by 7 points or less.

Oh...and ALL teams are beatable...that's why we have what they call "upsets". No team is unbeatable...and when you have around 120 teams and in 2011, the only undefeated team was Ohio State, that should sort of prove it to you.

Now I'm happy and hoping you aren't really a Buckeye fan. Now I'll move on, thank you.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

-5 HS
TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

In fairness, even if we converted 4th and 2, we still had 37 yards to go to get into the end zone against the best defense in the country. We really need to stop acting like getting the game winning score if we converted was a fait accompli.

+12 HS
RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

Fact: It would have happened. 100%.  National Championship, here we come.

You can't prove otherwise!

+4 HS
rock flag and eagle's picture

Agree.  Over the course of the season, OSU's offense converted 3rd downs at 47% and 4th downs at 63%.  But, against MSU, OSU only converted 1/10 (10%) 3rd downs,  and was 0/2 on fourth downs.  Even if OSU did pick up the first down, they were being held to season lows that game, and it was unlikely they would have just effortlessly marched down the field to score.  However, keep in mind it was only a 3pt game at the time.  OSU didn't need to march all 37 yards.  They only needed to set up a field goal to keep the game alive.

+1 HS
buckeye_chick's picture

I really, really hope this is a good thing for them. However...I seem to recall similar stories after the debacle in the desert, and it really didn't help (remember Tressel changing the codes on the doors at the Woody Hayes to the final score to remind everyone?). 

+1 HS
buckeyedexter's picture

A lot of emphasis has been placed on that 4th and 2 this off season, but in my mind we weren’t a national championship caliber team last year; the pass defense was just too bad and the receivers couldn’t get open.  If we would have picked up that 4th down and went on to win the game, we would have gotten embarrassed in the championship game.

But I am very optimistic about this years team!

-1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

What's done is done.

They have a chance to right the wrongs, one play at a time.

Buckeyes are in the mix, I'm good with that (for now).

+4 HS
apack614's picture

I'm so happy there is no "sugar coating" by the staff about completely getting rid of 2013's defensive scheme

"If we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Myc24's picture

Fourth and two.

You. Give. The. Ball. To. Hyde! 

"Because I couldn't go for three!"  - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+11 HS
apack614's picture

I screamed that same exact thing at a TV at a BDubs in Stafford, VA for about 25 minutes

"If we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions." - Woody Hayes

+4 HS
The Rill Dill's picture

He was only averaging 6 yds. per carry.

+2 HS
OSUBias's picture

We lost by 10 points, I think we were more like "two yards for a first down, ~40 yards from a touchdown, and a competent defense" away from a national championship appearance.

Shitter's full

+12 HS
bafiesta's picture

Exactly.  Unless Carlos Hyde could have suited up at Safety, using him more would not have won the game. 

+2 HS
Zimmy07's picture

The last time Urban coached a season after losing a bowl game he won the National Championship that season.

+9 HS
rock flag and eagle's picture

Yes, but the last time Meyer coached the losing side of a conference championship game, the next year he went 8-5, and 4-4 in conference play.  

Or, to put it another way, I don't think there is a particularly strong correlation between the two phenomena you mention.

+1 HS
Mortc15's picture

Good write up and hopefully those last 2 games do fuel the fire of all the players and coaches. The Chase for 2014 has officially began! 

Buck-I4Life

RKilbane20's picture

I know we don't line up under center but that would have been the time to put one of the nations best offensive lines and Hyde run straight up the middle. 

Class of '14 & '16

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Just gotta use it to fuel the fire for this year. 

Go Bucks!!

CGroverL's picture

After writing against another comment where I stated that members of Buckeye Nation are not the kind of fans to think about losing any game that comes up on the schedule, I'm now at -3HS and kinda pissed off. I'm sorry, but if you claim to be a member of Buckeye Nation, look up and down the preseason schedule and see losses, you ARE NOT among the majority of people in Buckeye Nation. Every season that I see, I see 12-0 on...and for the last 2 seasons, I HAVE BEEN CORRECT. Now, I put down someone for saying that there is a team that the 2013 Buckeyes couldn't beat and I end up with -3HS because you 3 people are obviously people that are not TRUE MEMBERS OF BUCKEYE NATION.

Since 2001/2002 the Buckeyes' win/loss records, when combined with total offense and total defense, BCS bowls played in, and BCS bowl wins, plus the 3 BCS championship games and 1 win, put Ohio State above almost all of the right around 120 FBS teams there have been each season, my guess is that the Buckeyes are definitely inside the top 5 of those 120 plus teams over those last 13 years. Being that is the case and Ohio State's only one weak season of 2011 which even the SEC fans sometimes agree was a total unfair aggression against Ohio State by the NCAA and definitely helped by ESPN, who was the one place, order, group, or company that actually made money out of the "Tat-Gate" scandal, it is almost too easy to see which team the best team since 2001 was and has been.

Ohio State is the best team in my opinion since 2001. If you asked me if Ohio State was the best team during the Cooper years, my answer would not be "yes". Since the 2002 Championship season, I can't see how Ohio State would be an underdog unless they are a team less than 5 spots below the other team in the polls and the Buckeyes are on the road or at a neutral site. The Bucks have won almost everything almost every year. Sure that means being a top 5 team most of the time, but top 5 nearly year in and year out makes you think your team can and will win EVERY GAME.

In the least, that team's fans are going to see a win before every game. I'm sorry, but if you know the Buckeyes are playing football and you are not expecting a win, you are not part of Buckeye Nation. That is just my opinion, but I believe it like I believe in my religion, which I won't talk about because we aren't allowed to talk about religion here. Go Buckeyes...and I will always see an unbeaten opening schedule for my beloved Buckeyes EVERY SEASON...just like the rest of Buckeye Nation.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

-1 HS
Jabba1977's picture

The Offensive line is the key,without them coming together we are in trouble!!

SECHATER77