The statement was pretty innocent. Having fun things is the best way to live life. So how does Urban Meyer do it with regards to his football program?
“There’s some fun things you get to do and some non-fun things you get to do and in a coach’s world, like you guys have fun things to do, that’s fun for us,” the Ohio State head coach said on Tuesday minutes after closing the book on the first spring practice of 2017.
Meyer spoke about the process of bringing new coaches into the fold — especially on offense, in his case — laying out a plan and working to try and improve what is already there with new ideas. That brings a smile to the three-time national champion's face.
“The coaches get in there and you watch video tape of other programs and say ‘How does that fit our offense?’ I’m very involved in that. I listen and learn,” Meyer said. “From Gregg Brandon to Mike Sanford to Dan Mullen to Steve Addazio to Tom Herman to Ed Warinner, they all have their personalities and they’ve all had major impacts on this offense and I can see it happening right now.”
“The term we use around here is we’re not changing, we’re enhancing what we do. If it was broken then we’d have to change it.”– Urban Meyer
After a humbling shutout in the College Football Playoff at the hands of eventual national champion Clemson, Meyer spoke of a refresh of his program on Tuesday. He moved some assistant coaches offices around. Roster attrition happened. The Buckeyes brought in a dynamite recruiting class, and 10 players from it are already enrolled.
The first step to getting things back and operating at peak levels? Augment an offense that struggled to connect on downfield passes in 2016 by adding a few new pages to the playbook and other tweaks.
“I think when Tom Herman came in it was a fresh set of ideas and then we all as a staff decide how does it mix with the base Ohio State offense?” Meyer said. “I’m not sure if your definition of a bunch is four, eight, 12. I wouldn’t say a bunch [of new pages] but there’s some enhancement going on right now.”
Meyer hired Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day as his new offensive minds after Ed Warinner left for Minnesota and Tim Beck bolted for Texas. Day has work to do with quarterback J.T. Barrett, while Wilson will work with the tight ends and coordinate the offense. The three coaches have to figure out how to balance reps between not only Barrett but the other quarterbacks on the roster. And fixing the deep ball is the top priority.
“It's who we are. We're going to pound the football at you and we're going to go over the top,” Meyer said. “When that works, life's pretty good offensively.”
In order for that to get back to the way it was in 2014 — the year Meyer took a string of games from to show Day and Wilson upon their arrival — more than just Barrett must be on point. The receivers need to play better. The offensive linemen have to protect better. And yes, Barrett needs to be better.
“What happens is quarterbacks get far too much credit when everybody is playing well around them. Then they get a lot of the blame,” Meyer said. “We're playing well like Nebraska, J.T. obviously played great. When the offensive line or the receivers or other guys weren't playing well, maybe he wasn't. He gets a little bit of the criticism. Comes with the job description.”
It certainly does, so that is a fair take. Everyone on the offense needs to improve for Ohio State to not only get back to Indianapolis and the Big Ten Championship Game or the College Football Playoff but have success there.
Meyer wants Barrett to find his rhythm with Wilson calling the shots on offense and using tempo. He wants to see how Wilson's ideas mesh with the premise of Ohio State's playbook. He needs to see how Day works with Barrett, Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell. Meyer noticed a tangible "zip" from players upon returning to the practice field.
Refreshed, ready to go. Game on.
“The term we use around here is we’re not changing, we’re enhancing what we do. If it was broken then we’d have to change it,” Meyer said. “If we wake up one day fifth, sixth in the Big Ten in offense or something then you’re going to see one of these overhauls.
“There’s just things that we have to work on and [Wilson's] the perfect guy, him and Ryan Day and our offense staff to get them fixed.”