Sitting in a crowded media room after coaching his team to what he described as "the coming of age game" for his young roster, Urban Meyer didn't want to crown the youth that performed so well in Ohio State's 45-24 victory at Oklahoma just yet. That is not how he is wired.
“I can't wait to see the video tape. As coaches, you think about that darn kickoff return and you see some other things that show your youth,” Meyer said. “We also didn't hustle ourselves to the line of scrimmage and blew timeouts and just some silly things that we need to get cleaned up.”
The Buckeyes did have to burn some of their timeouts because of miscommunication from the sideline to the backfield in play calling or things of that nature. That sort of sloppiness is expected from such an inexperienced group making its first appearance on the road in a high-level game with a raucous atmosphere. Ohio State also committed 11 penalties, allowed J.T. Barrett to get sacked once and gave up a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Joe Mixon in the first quarter.
Three days later, Meyer affirmed what he thought he would see from the game tape. There is no doubt the Buckeyes played well — beating a top-15 team on its home soil by three touchdowns isn't easy — but they can be even better.
“I’m very pleased with their growth, their development, and their play hard. Those are all things that are kind of demanded around here. But there's still far too many mistakes.”– Urban Meyer
“First we went out on the road recruiting then we watched as a staff today. I was hoping that everyone would see it the same way I saw it and they did,” Meyer said Tuesday on the Big Ten teleconference. “That's that we have so much room for improvement.”
Not only do his assistants see the mistakes they are paid to identify on tape but apparently so do Meyer's players.
“I actually had lunch with a few of them and everyone's attitude is the same. That's exactly what you want,” Meyer said. “Because it's so early in the year and there's so many young players, this is the first time they're playing. There's so much room for growth.”
Two key players and captains — Barrett and center Pat Elflein — echoed those remarks in the bowels of Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in the wee hours Sunday morning. Not even an hour removed from winning the game and experiencing the jubilation that came along with it, they drove Meyer's point home.
“I was pumped about the win but I said to the coaches, my teammates, it's crazy how much better we can get and how much better we can play,” Elflein said. “So we have a good mindset going into the bye week and really focus on getting better.”
Added Barrett: “I think we're in a good place coming into the bye week, and we just want to keep on preparing and getting better. We're not where we want to be, obviously.”
Fully in the midst of that off week and 10 days out from its next game, Ohio State reconvened for its first practice on Tuesday since it defeated Oklahoma. A handful of players is scheduled to meet with reporters following Wednesday's practice, the only time that is set to happen this week. Standard protocol for a week without a game on at the end of it.
Meyer said part of him wishes Ohio State's off week came later in the season because he hates when his players get out of routine. He could not, however, deny having the luxury to take a breath and give extra time for some guys to get healthy before diving headfirst into Big Ten action Oct. 1 when Rutgers visits Columbus.
“I wish it was a little bit later in the year but once again I don't spend that much time talking about it,” Meyer said. “Let's get healthy, we have some guys banged up and let's get a little better.”
Ohio State played well on a big stage against a team that went to the College Football Playoff a year ago. Such a performance puts the Buckeyes in a terrific position both in the rankings and within the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The mistakes and other mishaps that kept Ohio State's offense from scoring even more against Oklahoma are present on the film, and the unit could be more balanced even though Barrett threw four touchdown passes to Noah Brown.
The defense also allowed its first touchdown of the season on Saturday night. Additionally, Kerry Coombs' kickoff team gave up that early kickoff return for a touchdown to Mixon.
The Buckeyes won by 21 — but have areas to get better and need to as Big Ten season ramps up. Which is just what Meyer wanted.
“I’m very pleased with their growth, their development, and their play hard,” Meyer said. “Those are all things that are kind of demanded around here. But there's still far too many mistakes.
“The mechanics of the offense sometimes and defense you can always improve your tackling. There are many areas and I'm not by myself on this. I'm sure the players will feel the same about it.”