The Buckeyes seem to bring a distinctive motto or mantra into each season under Urban Meyer. We have seen The Chase and The Grind. There was a Land of Wolves around for a while, and probably one or two others that have been forgotten by time.
There is no such trademark to 2017, but there is certainly a message.
“What’s the common denominator on great teams, great organizations?” Meyer asked. “There’s plenty of professional organizations that just struggle every year, and the fans and the media, they blame the coaches. You don’t coach at that level unless you’re a great coach. It’s not you just wake up and they make you a coach.
“Then it’s even more comical when they blame the players. I hear the term, ‘Well, he’s a bad player.’ They’re not bad players, 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? And the term we come up with around here is they own it. It’s theirs. It’s their property.
“I just noticed when Curtis Grant walks around here, he walks in this building, and he thinks he owns the damn 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.”
An Absolute Must
Fans and media have spent the last couple of years talking about Ohio State needing to find another deep threat like Devin Smith. Smith was one of the all-time OSU greats when it came to home runs, so finding another one of him just isn’t going to happen. But there are possibilities on this Ohio State roster that can at least give it a good go.
While the focus continues to be on that deep — or Z — receiver, there is still the small matter of the Buckeyes finding an X receiver that they can rely on. Michael Thomas played the position very well in 2014 and 2015, but Noah Brown didn’t quite live up to expectations last year. Now the expectations of the position fall on sophomores Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack.
If the Ohio State passing game is going to be where everyone wants it, Victor and Mack can’t afford any kind of sophomore slump. They have to step up and emerge as legitimate playmakers for the Buckeyes this season. There is no alternative.
“They have to,” receivers coach Zach Smith said. “It has to happen. It has to happen. There’s no scenario where it’s not going to happen. They have to be a major part of this offense. I don’t even want to plan or think for if they’re not because it’s that necessary. You’re watching it happen, so it’s really a good thing right now.”
Explaining J.T. Barrett
Throwing Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack the football will be fifth-year senior J.T. Barrett. He will soon own every quarterback record at Ohio State worth owning, but when you ask the Buckeye coaches to describe him, numbers have nothing to do with it.
“Elite warrior,” is how defensive coordinator Greg Schiano described him.
“That says it all to me,” he replied when asked to expound. “Elite meaning very, very special. Rare. And warrior. That’s the guy you want to go into battle with.”
Schiano’s thoughts and feelings are shared by his fellow coaches, as well as Barrett’s teammates. They hear the criticism he has received and don’t understand it.
“J.T. is great,” said receiver Johnnie Dixon. “J.T. is going to be J.T. So many people are trying to be down on him, but that’s such a good dude, good QB, and he’s a hard worked, so I don’t understand that sometimes. I think it’s bizarre. You see J.T. and he has like every record in the book, but at the end of the day that never gets to his head. He’s a worker. Every day he comes out, he works.”