Perception or Reality: Meyer's Teams Error Prone?

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Hovenaut's picture

Seems to me...

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Got M...igan gossip? Bang it here.

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NavyBuckeye91's picture

I could only find penalty stats back thru 2003 (Coach Meyer's first season at Utah). Granted, I didn't look very hard.  https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/penalties-per-game?da...

The table below is just Meyer's team ranking for number of penalties per game. A rough measure.

Year Team Rank
2003 Utah 86
2004 Utah 83
2005 UF 109
2006 UF 118 (only 119 teams in FBS)
2007 UF 114
2008 UF 110
2009 UF 85
2010 UF 111
2012 OSU 99
2013 OSU 61
2014 OSU 50 (best season ever)
2015 OSU 55
2016 OSU 73
2017 OSU 103
2018 OSU 124

Of note, Meyer won NCs in 2006, 2008 and 2014 with his best, and his 2nd and 4th worst, disciplined teams in terms of penalties per game.

"You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, & in the manner in which you live.
So, live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you. "
- Stuart Scott

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unknownmusketeer's picture

For comparison, Ohio State under Jim Tressel had:

Year Meyer Tressel
2003 86 79
2004 83 37
2005 109 18
2006 118 20
2007 114 16
2008 110 37
2009 85 38
2010 111 15
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You can't spell chump without UM's picture

It honestly almost seems unfathomable that a Tressel coached team could stoop to 79th in penalties.
I'd love to know where the 2002 team ranked, but I'm unable to find any penalty rankings from that year.
Fun piece of trivia though. During my futile research, I discovered that Tressel won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award in 2002. Still not good enough to be the B1G Coach of the Year, though.

Tom Brady lost to John Cooper. Never forget.

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NavyBuckeye91's picture

Just going off the raw numbers, OSU averaged only 5.4 penalties per game in 2002.  If 2003 is an "average" year for CFB, the Buckeyes would've ranked in the Top 25 for fewest penalties per game.  PSU led the nation in 2003 with 3.3 and Mizzou was #20 with 5.4.  WSU and Ore State were DFL with 11.5 PPG.

"You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, & in the manner in which you live.
So, live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you. "
- Stuart Scott

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brutus0717's picture

Just imagine if Shugarts wasn't on those latter teams...

"We gotta go win this next game and make the State of Ohio proud!"-UFM

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Hoody Wayes's picture

Thanks Unknownmusketeer for the effort and the comparison: 2006 and 2008 suggest aggressive team-play works.

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Hoody Wayes's picture

Thanks for your effort, NavyBuckeye91! That's coming from an Army Buckeye, BTW!

Stats can beckon one to take a deep dive (pardon the pun, NavyBuckeye9...).

The 2014 stat is Tresselian! Did the loss to VA Tech have a recalibrating effect?

Just as remarkable are the 2017-2018 stats: Why the dramatic uptick? 

HS
NavyBuckeye91's picture

2014 is actually pretty interesting. Their best game was the opener against Navy: only 2 penalties for 20 yards. Then they had 7 against VaTech and 6 against Kent State.  But, their best 3-game stretch came during the last three games of the season against Wisconsin, Bama and Oregon: 14 penalties total - 5/4/5 - against arguably the best competition they saw all year.  Even during the regular season, they only matched that 3-game average in November against MSU, Minn and IU: 14 penalties - 7/4/3.

"You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, & in the manner in which you live.
So, live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you. "
- Stuart Scott

HS
QuadCitiesBuckeye's picture

their best 3-game stretch came during the last three games of the season against Wisconsin, Bama and Oregon: 14 penalties total - 5/4/5 - against arguably the best competition they saw all year

Playing with house money will do that, no pressure/expectations - they were having fun and kicking ass.

Shandy is not beer

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Hoody Wayes's picture

2 against Navy? Meyer must've been stunned.

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Hoody Wayes's picture

Great stats, ahoy! Thanks again, swabby!

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GunnerBuck's picture

I would say yes just simply by memory, I would also say that has to do with the turnover of players and staff on a regular basis. Whether he was focused on going fast and disregarding the stupid penalties or what, idk.

"Come on, you sons of b!tches! Do you want to live forever?" -- Dan Daly, WWI

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You can't spell chump without UM's picture

Yes, but I don't see that necessarily as a negative. A lot of the errors came from the aggressiveness Meyer preached. He was more of a high risk, high reward type of personality; and was far more willing to take chances than Tressel was. Hence why on the comparison chart between the two that Unknownmusketeer posted above, Tressel's teams always were more disciplined fundamentally.

Tom Brady lost to John Cooper. Never forget.

HS
Silver Sniper's picture

The penalties under Meyer at OSU were killer and it made things hard to watch at times. I get the high risk/reward theory but I’ll take whatever outcome comes with low risk and discipline any day. 

HS
Hoody Wayes's picture

Great point! I certainly feel the national championship game against Oregon was indicative of the "high risk, high reward" trait you note, regarding turnovers: Bucks 4 (3 fumbles lost and 1 INT) vs. Ducks (1 INT). Ducks had more penalties, though. Oregon (10-76) and Ohio State (5-30).

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stxbuck's picture

Shugarts being the glaring outlier...............................

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stuckupnorth's picture

I’ve never seen a team run a hurry up style no huddle, get delay of games like OSU. That baffles me still to this day. As well as the timeout delay of games. Also the way corners were taught to play coverage contributed to many PI calls. 

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LCT's picture

The playcalling process was all jacked up. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

I hope Day streamlines that stuff this year.

Lifetime vs. UM: L 8-1, C 7-0, T 4-0

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kmp10's picture

Agreed, Stuck. In addition, Meyer repeatedly stated that he wasn’t a guy who got all worked up over penalties. That philosophy contributed to his teams playing unencumbered, which was great in some ways, and bad in other ways... like being penalized incessantly. 

When I die, sprinkle my ashes over the 70's 

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Snake64's picture

High Risk High Reward. We certainly won a lot more games than we lost because of this style so it all evens out.

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RunEddieRun1983's picture

I think you've got a point, however, Urban Meyer coached teams are also hands down some of the most aggressive players in the game, and while some of those penalties are just stupid mental errors, some of them also come from playing with teeth showing. 

Urban Meyer left an incredible legacy. 12/4/18 Ryan Day begins his.

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Dstacify's picture

Meyer was a very emotional coach and that reflected in his players at times. Towards the end of his run here yes, his team was highly prone to making mental mistakes (especially on ST which Meyer was directly responsible for).

11 Strong.

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buckeye1976's picture

And the man still won 3 NC's, lol.

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Earle's picture

What do you expect when you recruit murderers and whatnot?

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Zonabuck's picture

Interesting question, and interesting as to how you could fully assess.  Penalties are an easy comparison, but you'd still have to take into account the boneheaded penalties - presnap, for example.  Yes, we rail on Shugarts, but Prince probably could've had 8-10 false starts per game if they called them straight.  I have no idea how he was able to Jordan-Rules his way through 2019.

I think the biggest difference between Urban and Tressel was their risk aversion.  Tressel definitely followed the Woody Hayes approach, keeping it tight on O, trusting his special teams and letting defense win or lose the game.  JT loved the three.  On the other hand, Urban did like to attack and stay aggressive for the most part, often getting very animated when Barrett held the ball instead of taking shots.  I think the Urban offense was much looser than Tressel's, but how can you rate that with respect to "errors"?  Urban's offenses took more chances, and accepted more mistakes.  Tressel took fewer chances, but still asked unathletic guards to pull and fill without tripping over the Center's feet in order for a play to be successful, which is another unforced error.

Too close to call.

HS
Chicago Connection's picture

I wonder how much the penalties were a reflection of a philosophy that emphasized one-on-one matchups and encouraged taking risks and playing aggressive? 

chicagobuckeye

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Buckeye_bob's picture

Meyer was a guy who was an information freak, that means he wanted to insert as much information as possible into his players and his offensive scheme, I have worked with and for guys like this and it is hard to work on fundamentals and the little things when you are inserting new wrinkles and variations of plays and formations constantly. Usually practice is a madhouse and hectic. He was never satisfied with the info players had and it causes confusion.  Therefore mistakes!! Meyer said once in an interview, that he would be at dinner drawing up formations and new variations of old plays just to keep ahead of the opposing defenses. That is called obsessed.

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Bubblehead's picture

But what's the rank if you take away the three penalties per game for kickoffs out of bounds?

know nukes

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cledaybuck's picture

As another article noted, we only kicked two balls out of bounds last year.

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bd2999's picture

Last year seemed like a fair number of penalties but overall I do not think he was towards the bottom through his tenure. The numbers others posted seems to bare that out.

In terms of turn overs, it sure seemed to me that OSU normally got more turn overs than they gave up. There were exceptions here and there but overall they were typically good at forcing turn overs more than the other team got in the end. I don't remember too many multiple Int games. There were more fumbles in some games than others.

The most turn overs I remember off hand in one game was the title game against Oregon. The ball just kept slipping out. And if that did not happen than OSU probably wins by at least ten or twenty more points than they did.

HS
buckeyeinthechi's picture

I'll take "penalty prone" teams that still get the W over a team who gets blown out by 30 to .500 teams that shouldn't be in the same breath as us.

There are three different types of people in the world.....those who can count, and those who cannot.

HS
dvo45's picture

In his new podcast Meyer discussed this very issue...

Summary...he did not care about effort penalties...you can't preach 4-6 A to B and then get mad about a kid doing exactly that...

Sometimes it results in a penalty...had to let it go to get the type of effort he demanded 

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Chicago Connection's picture

I wonder exactly how Meyer might define an "effort" penalty?

I'd agree with him in cases where, for example, a guy is hustling to make a tackle and a runner changes his trajectory so that the tackler winds up with a debatable targeting or roughing call---stuff like that---but I do think the notion that you can't preach--and thereby presumably can't prevent--an "effort penalty" might be overstated.

Most coaches agree that players can be coached to harness and control their energy and effort, at least to a degree.

I'm guessing Meyer likewise would agree, so I'd love to know how he splits hairs when it comes to this issue then how he coaches players to maximize their effort while minimizing their mistakes.

chicagobuckeye

HS