Skull Session: Urban Meyer's New Outlook on Leadership, 2015 Class Fed Up, and a Possible Explanation for Lack of Sacks

By D.J. Byrnes on April 12, 2017 at 4:59 am
Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins prepare for the April 12 2017 Skull Session.

A gang of dastardly dandelions invaded my lawn overnight. They done goofed because bloggers' schedules are similar to those of unemployed folks in that I ain't got nothing better to do this afternoon than to destroy their bloodlines with my bare hands.


Best of luck to the Columbus Blue Jackets as they begin their quest for Lord Stanley's Chalice tonight against the vile Penguins in Pittsburgh for Game 1 of the playoffs. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. ET on USA. 

For full coverage, visit our sister site, 1st Ohio Battery, and make sure to follow it on Twitter.

Word of the Day: Détente.

 URBAN MEYER ON LEADERSHIP. "Leadership" is one of those concepts everybody knows despite differing definitions. One man's leader is another's try-hard asshole worthy of a frag grenade.

But when a man like Urban Meyer speaks, it's wise to listen. You don't win three national titles without picking up a thing or two about leading men.


“Here’s the new definition of leadership that I’ve learned since the second half of my career. It’s, a leader must earn trust, be very clear about the standards that you set, and inspire and motivate those to achieve those standards.”

“So it’s a much more in depth quote than just, ‘set a standard and demand it.’ If you don’t earn that trust as a leader, you’re going to have a tough time coaching people how to leave this room. If you earn the trust of people, you can push people as far as they trust you.”

"You can push them as far as they trust you." Given Meyer's results in Columbus, it's easy to see his success in developing that trust with his players. It's part of the reason Ohio State bounced back so quickly from the Fiesta Fiasco in January.

Hell, even I trust him to lead the local team from the desert.

 2015 CLASS FED UP. Starting on National Signing Day, Meyer has been relentless in his criticism of the 2015 class, going as far to call his roster an "Oreo" because it's tough on the ends and soft in the middle.

Two productive players from that class, Jerome Baker and Dre'Mont Jones, took the message personally despite not being its target.


“I take it personally,” [Jerome] Baker said. “I feel that our class is a very good class and us not getting on the field and playing as well as we should, you take it personally, especially when people talk about our class as not producing.”


“We’re just sick of being the outcasts,” [Dre'Mont] Jones said. “We’re a top-recruited class. We’re all talented.

“It burns so much. It’s a pride issue. We had to internalize that and realize it’s only there to motivate us. Everyone has their own issues and everyone’s chastised a little more, but we’re seen as a whole so we had to learn to grow up.”

This is an example of why these two broke through before their classmates (although both helped by injuries ahead of them on the depth chart).

There are two ways to take constructive criticism: Whine about it or get to work. Hopefully, their classmates follow suit.

 LACK OF SACKS, EXPLAINED. As mentioned in the April 6th, 2017 Skull Session, Urban Meyer hated a Greg Schiano drill before switching to loving it. For a refresher course, here's that drill.

From Bruce Feldman of

Last spring, Meyer, who has won three national titles, spotted Schiano doing this drill, where he had players rush at a quarterback and when the QB’s front hand came off the ball (an indicator that he’s about to begin his throwing motion), the defenders were to raise up their opposite hand toward the passing arm.

Could that drill, emphasizing the matching of quarterbacks' hands over putting them on the ground, be part of the reason Ohio State's sacks fell off last year? It's an interesting question.


2016 21 28 0.75 5
2015 12 38 0.32 9
2014 25 45 0.56 14
2013 16 42 0.38 42
2012 14 30 0.47 25

The ratio of interceptions to sacks in a given year are interesting. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the best interception: sack ratio was also the best defense of the Urban Meyer era. While the 2015 defense had the lowest interception to sack ratio in the last five years, that defense was also fourth overall in the country in adjusted sack rate.

The real key is that a defense needs to either be good at getting sacks or getting turnovers. But Schiano and Meyer had to decide between emphasizing higher probability sacks (the pre-Schiano strategy of just get to the QB) or raising the admittedly-lower probability of interceptions (via Match the Hand), and decided to go with the latter strategy (to great effect!).

Judging by S&P+ rankings, I'd wager the defensive staff was okay with the drop-off considering the elevation of other areas. 

I will be stunned if those sack numbers don't jump this year. What that does to the interception numbers remains to be seen. 

 MICHIGAN FANS HANDLED THIS WELL. Ohio State fans love to bash Jabrill Peppers despite him only amassing one tipped interception against the Buckeyes during a three-year career in Ann Arbor.

While Michigan fans love calling this an "obsession," they do so while defending Peppers like he is their first-born child. Just check out some comments to this Bleacher Report video:

All I want for Christmas in July—other than, you know, an all-booze paid trip to Put-In-Bay—is Peppers falling out of the first round. So it is written, so it is done.

 THAT'S IMPRESSIVE. This is one of those videos I can't tell you anything about. That doesn't make this any less impressive:

How many of y'all were like me and expected ol' girl to take a pigskin off her nose? Makes you appreciate the talent in long-snapping.

 THOSE WMDs. The girl who hunts with hawks... Tiny, family-run newspaper wins Pulitzer for taking on big business... Trash Can Unit: the dark side of Shadow Mountain... The utter uselessness of job interviews... How did Ohio State get the zip code 43210?

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