With Spring Practice and a Trip to the White House in the Books, Where Does Ohio State Go From Here?

By Eric Seger on April 22, 2015 at 8:35 am

Even in victory, champions face quandaries.

There's a pressure to repeat. A pressure to do it all again. A pressure that wasn't there a year before.

The 2015 football season will not the first time Urban Meyer's faced such a strain, winning the BCS National Championship in both 2006 and 2008 at the University of Florida.

This time is different, though. This time, Meyer's in his home state of Ohio, coaching his beloved Buckeyes, and the jury's still out on who is starting quarterback will be this fall.

But time has marched on since Cardale Jones — one of the three worthy candidates Meyer has to choose from at quarterback — led Ohio State past the Oregon Ducks in Dallas Jan. 12.

"Obviously we had about a two-month infomercial on Ohio State," Meyer told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "It certainly has helped us."

Meyer and his team — either a part of it or the whole thing — have been to Cleveland Cavaliers and Cincinnati Reds games. They've held a national title celebration ceremony at Ohio Stadium. Saturday marked the annual spring game. Monday, a trip to the White House.

Wherever there's been a television camera rolling, Ohio State's been on the other side, reaping the benefits on the recruiting trail.

But with all that behind them, where do the Buckeyes go from here?

"Here's the dilemma," Meyer said Saturday after watching Gray top Scarlet, 17-14, Saturday. "You can tell my mind's spinning here a little bit — how do we get better as a team after we get them out of here for a couple weeks ... this is a critical offseason for us. This is really critical."

Meyer lamented how the Buckeyes did not improve as a team during spring drills, a tall tale for any club with half its starters out due to injury or because they're part of the "2,000-rep club."

The simple answer to the question could be "the weight room" or "the practice field." Players conceivably can always get stronger and fine tune their individual skills, which is exactly what Meyer said happened this spring.

As a team, though, their head coach says they have a long way to go.

"It's no one's fault. How do you get better as a team when half your team is not playing?" Meyer said. "So that's going to be interesting to watch for the Buckeyes this summer."

Spring games under Meyer typically aren't alluring affairs because its his goal to get younger players experience on a big stage. Also, we all have to remember something: Ohio State played its last game barely three months ago.

"I think at the end of the day, we're trying to make sure our best players have their best when we get to the season and need them," offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. "It is a challenge, but there is a balance of how to keep them sharp, how to continue to have the team grow and improve."

It's true, every team must get better from year to year in order to have a chance to compete for championships. There's only one team a year, though, which carries the onus as defending national champion.

For 2015, that team is the Ohio State Buckeyes.

"How they handle themselves, how they behave, how they train, and how they come together as a team — because that team has got to get better by the time (strength coach Mickey Marotti) hands me the team like he does every summer," Meyer said.

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