Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer met with the media today at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, where he talked about expectations, distractions, and the development of his team during the offseason, as well as through the first few weeks of practice.
With the expectations of bringing a national championship to Columbus, Meyer spoke about how he handles those expectations and how he approaches each game.
"I've always been a one-game-at-a-time coach. I've been on staffs where all of a sudden, you're looking at something other than the next game and you wake up the next morning with a loss," said Meyer.
This season, the Buckeyes open the season as the second ranked team in the country, something Meyer knows all too well at Ohio State. In 1987, when Meyer was a graduate assistant under former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, the Buckeyes also had high expectations and started out the season ranked number two.
"I was here in '87 and at the start of the season, we were preseason number 2 in America, " said Meyer. "Our staff got let go and it wasn't really a positive year. It's not because of bad coaches, it's not because of bad players, it's because of distractions."
In what would be Bruce's final season, the Buckeyes compiled a 6-4-1 record. In the years since Bruce's firing, many rumors have circulated about distractions to that team, which had lofty expectations after coming off a 28-12 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas A&M.
Knowing the importance of keeping your eye on the prize, Meyer says that he has a plan in place to avoid distractions away from his program.
Although he cannot watch every player at every moment of the day or night, Meyer feels that he needs keep the player's minds on the X's and O's as much as possible.
"Our clientele is 18 to 21 year-olds. If you recall, they kind of get distracted. We've just got to make sure they stay focused."
And over the next week, the Buckeyes will be as focused as ever. With nine practices in the next six days, Meyer made sure to stress the importance of the coming week.
"The 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes will be determined by this week coming up," said Meyer.
The football team will travel to the Ackerman Road practice fields for the bulk of their two-a-day practices, which Meyer feels will give the team a true sense of training camp.
Although he would like to be able to travel far away from the comfort and distractions of the Ohio State campus, Meyer feels that the true strength of his team will show this week.
Meyer raved about the development of junior quarterback Braxton Miller, especially about his mechanics and timing. Meyer noted that the timing Braxton has displayed, especially in a scrimmage on Saturday, doesn't come without putting in work with the wide receivers in the offseason.
Taylor Decker has solidified himself as the top right tackle on the roster. Meyer said that if there was a game tomorrow, Decker would be the starter.
Meyer also announced that freshman linebacker Mike Mitchell is listed on the two-deep at MLB. Mitchell was the second freshman to lose his black stripe, which signifies the player is a true Buckeye and is capable of being counted on and contributing to the team.
Unlike last season, Meyer expects special teams to flourish. Meyer says a "plethora" of players, including running backs Jordan Hall and Dontre Wilson, as well as cornerback Bradley Roby and freshman receiver James Clark will make the return game something special after a disappointing season last year. Meyer also thinks freshman punter and former Aussie Rules player Cameron Johnston can be one of the best punters he's ever coached.
That was not all Meyer had to say about Dontre Wilson, either. Having raved about his speed since he got to Columbus, when Meyer was asked if Wilson brings something to the offense that wasn't there last year, he responded, "Oh my gosh, yeah."
The four-star running back out of DeSoto, Texas feels that he brings something to Ohio State, even more that what Meyer has in mind for the speedster.
Wilson feels that him choosing Ohio State over the likes of Texas and Texas A&M will "open up the floodgates for recruits coming to Columbus.
"I pretty much set the standard. Most players weren't looking at Ohio State, but now that I'm here, everyone is."
Wilson's confidence didn't stop there, saying that the first time he gets the ball in his hands, he's taking it to the house.
- Wilson, who was originally committed to Oregon until Chip Kelly left for the NFL, was asked if he's bringing SEC speed to Ohio State. His response: "I didn't think the SEC had that much speed." Shots. Fired.
- Wilson also lauded praise upon Braxton Miller for taking him under his wing since he's come to Columbus. "He's my best friend and a great leader. He's going to take us to the national championship this year.
- Running back Ezekiel Elliott says that Kenny Guiton is a guy he and the rest of the freshman look up to in the locker room. "He knows everything," said the freshman out of Missouri.
- Jordan Hall, who will likely start the first three games at tailback due to Carlos Hyde's suspension, said that after his injury last season, he was unsure whether he wanted to play football anymore. Now, Hall is excited to start his 5th season and said he's never taking a snap for granted again.
- Defensive lineman Chris Carter says that it has been a struggle to get rid of extra weight, but credits strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti for his weight loss. Currently weighing 345 pounds after ballooning to almost 400 pounds during his freshman year, Carter says the biggest change is his diet. "I can't eat three or four Chipotle burritos anymore."
- With the distractions facing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, Braxton Miller was asked on how to avoid pitfalls like the Texas A&M quarterback has fallen into. "I try to stay out of all of that. I'm just a regular person when I leave here."
- Miller says he'll still sign autographs and pose for pictures, but knows that not everyone has good intentions. "I'm not going to turn down pictures or autographs, especially for kids. I do it for the fans."