Ohio State football: Meyer sets daily, big-picture goals
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer gives instruction during the first day of spring drills.
The sign inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center reads, “The Chase.”
This year, unlike last, Ohio State is allowed in the race. The Buckeyes’ bowl ban is history, and they likely are to be a national championship contender.
But they also are chasing other teams who had the benefit of 15 practices as they prepared for bowl games. Meyer has scheduled two practices this week, partly to maximize the time that coaches can have meetings with players before taking off next week for spring break.
“We’re all chasing something,” Meyer said. “We’re 15 practices behind a lot of teams — every team that played in a bowl game. Some guys are chasing starting positions. Some guys are chasing bowl games. Some guys are chasing NFL contracts.”
Those are long-term goals. Meyer is more interested in the present.
“One of our mantras is ‘Grade the Day,’ ” he said. “That means every day is going to be graded.”
Meyer mentioned cornerback Bradley Roby, who turned down a chance at the NFL and had two interceptions yesterday.
“A guy like Roby who comes out and performs is 1 for 1,” Meyer said. “Everybody’s got big dreams, and we as a football team have dreams. (But) we’re going to grade the day. You either did your job, or you did not.”
Meyer is more confident that more players can do the job this year than at the same point last year. Last March, Meyer used words such as “clown show” and “nonfunctional” to describe what he saw on offense. Yesterday, he was much more upbeat.Quarterback Braxton Miller looked sharp. His footwork, shaky last year, is much-improved. Jordan Hall, whose season was ruined by foot and knee injuries, looked at home in his new slot position. He caught a diving 40-yard pass with Christian Bryant in tight coverage for the highlight of the day.
“Boy, was he great today,” Meyer said of Hall. “I’ve got to be careful. I start to like players too much, and it gets me in trouble. But I love that guy.”
The receivers as a whole seemed to be more polished, even with Corey Brown out because of what Meyer said was a minor knee sprain.
“We’re starting to get some guys who can maybe make some plays,” Meyer said.
Questions remain. Except for linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was limited yesterday as he heals from a sports hernia injury, the starting front seven on defense will be new. Curtis Grant will get another chance to take control of the middle linebacker position he couldn’t hold last year.Meyer said that the Buckeyes likely are to use a lot of nickel defenses this year because of the type of opponents they’ will face, and redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell lined up with the first team as the nickel back.
The Buckeyes also are looking for a successor to Reid Fragel at right tackle. Taylor Decker got the first crack with the first team yesterday, though Chase Farris will have a chance to win the job.
Fragel is being used as an example by Meyer for this year’s players.
“Who’s going to be our Fragel?” he said. “We’re going to call that the Fragel Award. He was a very below-average football player, and he turned out to be a very good player for the Ohio State University’s undefeated season. Who’s going to be the Fragel?”