“We are not playing preseason games. We are in the Big Ten conference, Game One. So sometimes I'll count those games as a chance to get guys ready. We don't have that luxury this year. This year, you're in it.”
Ohio State enters the 2017 season in some unfamiliar territory. The Buckeyes tend to open a new season playing against a team that is generally outmanned and outmatched that would likely be an easier win than most of the games remaining on the schedule. This year is different. Ohio State heads to Bloomington to face off against the Indiana Hoosiers for the first game of the season, meaning the margin for error will be much smaller than in previous years.
Of course, the Buckeyes know what sort of challenge that is and are preparing with drills in fall camp. They will have to be sharp from the first day in order to be ready for the Hoosiers. Only nine days later, Urban Meyer’s squad will have to host Oklahoma which will be a primetime game on ABC. The depth chart will start to take shape after this Saturday, when the Buckeyes have their first scrimmage with pads.
“Once again, I'd rather have that conversation than say we don't have anybody. I've never had that issue (on defense), and it remains to be seen. I think Larry Johnson and Greg Schiano know how to handle it and have had conversations I've been involved in, too. It's be creative.”
Just a couple of years ago, Ohio State had a problem with having too many weapons on offense. A team that featured two starting quarterbacks, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, also included dynamic playmakers such as Ezekiel Elliott, Braxton Miller, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, and Curtis Samuel. When you have that many weapons, as coach Meyer alluded to above, it can be difficult to determine who gets the ball in certain situations and if everyone is getting enough touches. It’s hard to involve everyone, but the question has been raised about the defense entering this fall and if the Buckeyes have too much talent to go around.
The simple answer is that there’s no such thing as too much talent and maybe it’s even less important on defense. There’s no worry about getting touches, but there is a fair point about who’s on the field and who isn’t. Still, it’s a no-lose situation when you have a defensive line that includes Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa, and Jayln Holmes. It will be up to Greg Schiano and Larry Johnson to sort out who gets what, but at the end of the day it will be harder to find a combination that isn’t doing well than it will be to find several that do work well.
“But what’s the problem? Why do some organizations have these great, great teams, and why do these great certain companies have great companies even during hard times? The term we come up with around here is they own it. It’s theirs. It’s their property.”
Each season brings on a new slogan for the Ohio State Buckeyes. In 2014 it was “The Chase.” In 2015, “The Grind,” and in 2016, “The Edge.” Each one brought a different type of motivation for the Buckeyes, and for the upcoming season, they’ve seemed to settle on “One Strong.” However, Coach Meyer also talks about how he wants his coaching staff and players to “own it” this season, and he used former Ohio State linebacker Curtis Grant as an example of someone who embodies that attitude. Grant, of course, was a starting linebacker when the Buckeyes won the national championship in 2014 and Meyer had an interesting observation:
“I just noticed when Curtis Grant walks around here, he walks in this building, and he thinks he owns the thing, because he does. And he should walk around like that. And with that comes responsibility. You see someone treating it not nice — it’s your home. So that was a central theme. We’ll continue that through training camp or part of it.”
It’s clear that Meyer is ready for the new season and to “own it,” and he’s looking for his team to do the same as fall camp has ramped up and the season draws closer each day.