Skull Session: Urban Meyer Recalls His Highs and Lows, Justin Fields Works on Pocket Presence, and Zach Smith Bombs Ed Warinner

By Kevin Harrish on May 29, 2019 at 4:59 am
The Buckeyes take the field in today's skull session.
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like the Buckeyes are in rare company this year.

This list shrinks to just Ohio State and Arizona State when you toss in the NCAA hockey tournament as a criteria.


Word of the Day: Brickbat.

 BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES. If you think you'll be sick about Ohio State's 2015 loss to Michigan State for the rest of your life, imagine being Urban Meyer.

He's now retired and will go down as one of the most accomplished and best coaches in college football history, but he's still haunted by one game every single day – it hurt that bad.

From Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch:

He said the accomplishment he didn’t fully appreciate at the time was the 30-game regular-season conference winning streak to begin his tenure.

As is the case with many coaches, the victories for Meyer are a blur, but the losses haunt. No defeat hurt more than the home loss to Michigan State in 2015 in a rainstorm.

How often does he think about that game?

“Every day,” he said. “That’s the one. I don’t blame others. I blame myself. I could have done some better things (as a coach) that day. That 2015 Michigan State game, that was a tough one.”

The good news is there was a hell of a lot more winning than losing during Meyer's time at Ohio State, which means there's still a lot to celebrate.

Of course, the unlikely 2014 national title was a highlight.

“I remember seeing the joy on those players’ faces and seeing the illogical happen,” he said.

As for his favorite win?

“I’ve been asked that a lot, and I’d have to say the 62 points against our rival,” he said of the 62-39 upset of Michigan last year.

When you get to choose your favorite between seven wins against Michigan in seven years as a head coach, that probably means you had a solid run. But yeah, that last one was absolutely the sweetest.

 POCKET PRESENCE. Justin Fields is quite a bit more mobile than Dwayne Haskins and tucked the ball fairly often his freshman season at Georgia, but that doesn't mean we should expect happy feet from the new Buckeye signal caller this season.

Fields is more than a capable runner and will do it when he needs to, but he came to Ohio State to throw the ball, and he spent a solid portion of his offseason working on his pocket presence.

From Joey Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch

When he visited Kennesaw, Georgia, his hometown north of Atlanta, for two weeks this month, Fields had more than a half-dozen workouts with private quarterbacks coach Ron Veal in which he focused on quickening the steps in his dropback. A dropback in which Fields quickly backpedals into the pocket is a development that allows him to go through his progressions and read defensive coverages faster.

“If your drop is slow, you only probably have got one read,” Veal said.

Making more reads means identifying more potential receiving targets.

“He wants to rely on his arm and his mind to make these reads and use his feet when necessary,” Veal said. “His feet are a weapon that I’m sure Ohio State will use periodically, but he doesn’t want to make that the main part of his game.”


But Fields’ growth as a passer, particularly his footwork, also holds a practical element. While Fields is behind center at Ohio State, there will be no shortage of talented skill players for him to find.

“The main thing with any offense is getting the ball out of your hands,” Veal said. “They got too many athletes not to have it. So we don’t need a quarterback sitting back and holding the ball. We need him getting the ball out of his hands and into these playmakers’ hands.”

Watching Braxton Miller ruin defenses with his legs never got old, but neither did watching Dwayne Haskins dropping 40-yard bombs into Terry McLaurin's lap. Here's hoping Fields can do a little of both.

 ZACH SMITH SLAMS ED WARINNER. Last week, I thought long and hard about whether I would make mention of Zach Smith's podcast in these here Skull Sessions.

I played it safe and punted last week, but this week's episode is way too interesting to just pretend it doesn't exist. So here's a link. Do with it what you'd like, I'm going to hit you with some of the highlights.

This episode is essentially just Zach Smith taking a gigantic shit on Ed Warinner's lawn and lighting it ablaze, starting at about the 15 minute mark. He says Warinner is the reason Ohio State didn't win a national championship in 2015, calling him "the most incompetent football coach I've ever been around."

Here's the gist of what Zach Smith said about Ed Warinner:

  • The "Co-OC" title a "bullshit title, across the board."
  • Players didn't respect Ed Warinner as a leader and a coach.
  • Ed Warinner couldn't verbalize a play, and that's why there were so many delay of games.
  • Ed Warinner's pregame speeches were so bad, the specialists would secretly record them for laughs.
  • Michael Thomas didn't complain once even though play calling cost him an All-American season, until the Michigan State game.
  • Urban Meyer was ready to fire Ed Warinner in 2015, but the players played so well in the final two games he didn't know how to justify it.
  • Ed Warinner treated support staff terribly, including his student manager.
  • Noah Brown put him in his place on the sideline during practice.
  • The 2015 team deserved a chance to play for a national title, and "they didn't get it because one man was incompetent."
  • Tim Beck was a scapegoat. "He did a great job, for what he was given."
  • "If you call shitty plays, the quarterback is the first to look horrible."
  • "Ed was the reason, through and through," he said. "He cost Ohio State a national championship."
  • Ed Warinner was the worst recruiter on staff.

It's absolutely newsworthy and honestly fascinating to hear one former coach absolutely bomb on another former coach like this. This isn't really something you hear anywhere else, and it's damn near unfiltered because he's got absolutely nothing to lose at this point in his life.

As far as the veracity of his claims, you'll never find a person who can or will confirm everything he said, but I will tell you none of it shocks me and everything feels fairly consistent with what I've been told by others close to that situation.

Regardless of your Zach Smith opinions – I read the comments, y'all have some strong #takes on both sides of the fence – the guy absolutely knows many things about the Buckeye football program nobody in the public has ever heard, and now has no incentive to keep them secret.

Can't say I saw this coming when he first teased this podcast months ago, but I guess I'm now a regular listener.

 HIRE GREG ODEN. Greg Oden officially has his Ohio State diploma and now finds himself in a familiar position for many recent graduates: looking for a job.

Now, to be fair, he is probably the only member of his graduating class seeking employment as an NBA or college basketball coach, and that seems to be Oden's dream.

"I feel like I got a story that can help a lot of these kids and I know a little bit about playing basketball," Oden told TMZ. "Hopefully somebody gives me an opportunity, but I'm working on that now."

Oden said he doesn't believe there's an opportunity for him at Ohio State currently, but that he's open to going just about anywhere and doing just about anything. He'll go wherever someone is willing to give him a shot.

"I wanna get my foot in the door and I just wanna work my way up," Oden said. "I'm willing to learn and adapt, I just need a chance."

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't think there's much risk at all to adding Greg Oden to your coaching staff. I get that he doesn't have a ton of coaching experience under his belt, but he's worked under two great college coaches and was an absolutely dominant post player during his playing days.

I mean, it's not like you're banking on his knees holding up or anything. We're talking about a coaching position.

 OLAVE PUTTING IN WORK. Justin Fields ain't the only one putting in some offseason work with a private trainer. One of his young receivers is out there getting better, too.

It's crazy how quickly wide receiver has turned into a position of strength both now and in the future. And that future's only getting brighter (more specifically, it's going to get a hell of a lot brighter in two days).

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