Ohio State's First Three Weeks of 2017 Have Given Urban Meyer an Unprecedented Challenge

By James Grega on September 13, 2017 at 8:07 pm
Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer has seen a lot in his 16 years as a head coach, but nothing that compares to Ohio State's schedule to begin the 2017 season. 

The Buckeyes have had to prepare for back-to-back primetime contests, one against a conference opponent on the road and another against a top-5 team at home. Now, Ohio State is preparing to defend Army's triple option offense.

The week-to-week challenge to open the 2017 campaign is something Meyer said Wednesday he has never encountered before. 

"We saw it coming. We have been working on the option a little, but it is so hard because those two offenses you faced right off the jump were - usually you can out-man your opponent a little bit - but this is such a unique one," Meyer said. "This is going to be a dogfight. I have never been in (a situation) like that."

For Meyer to say that says a lot considering where he has been in the past. In his first season at Utah, the Utes opened the season with games against Utah State, Texas A&M and a Cal team led by Aaron Rodgers. A year later, Utah opened the season with wins against Texas A&M at home, and then rolled in road wins over Arizona and Utah State. 

At Florida and Ohio State, however, the script has been different. While Army is not a Power 5 team or a national title contender, the Black Knights run an offense that is prone to giving defenses fits. 

Against Navy in 2014, Ohio State allowed 370 yards rushing in a 34-17 win that featured four new starting offensive linemen and a freshman quarterback for the Buckeyes. The following week, OSU dropped a 35-21 contest at home before running the table to win a national title.

Even with that kind of run, Meyer maintained that Ohio State's current three-game stretch is unlike one he has faced before. 

When it comes to defending the option, though, Meyer will have some help. Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano faced either Army or Navy in each of his 11 seasons as the head coach at Rutgers from 2001-2011. 

Schiano said Monday that he has faced similar challenges in preparing for a triple-option football team following other tough opponents, an experience he feels will help the Buckeyes in their preparation. 

"I am accustomed to having to do that," Schiano said when discussing preparing for a service academy offense. "It's different and they are a very good football team too. The triple option isn't it. They are a team that rebuilt themselves into a bowl game a year ago and they run this stuff really well. They are very proficient at it."

Both Meyer and Schiano have maintained all week that Ohio State is placing laser focus on its preparation for Army, and will correct their issues, particularly on pass defense, once the current three-game stretch has come to an end. 

"We will deal more with regular football corrections a week from now when we get done with the Army game," Schiano said Monday. "Then, we will get back to playing regular football. This is a totally different thing."

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