Meyer Trying to Temper Game-Week Anticipation
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer was a young child the first time he saw the Scarlet and Gray on the football field.
Photo by Dan Harker
Woody Hayes was about to embark on the best 6-7 year run of his legendary coaching career at Ohio State, and almost immediately, young Urban was hooked on Buckeye football.
Meyer would eventually make his way Columbus as a graduate assistant under Earle Bruce, but that was a quarter-century ago and it hardly prepares him for the emotions of leading the Scarlet and Gray down the tunnel and on to the field at Ohio Stadium this Saturday.
“Obviously to say I’m very excited about Saturday would be a very shallow statement because I think everybody knows that,” Meyer said Monday during his first game-week media luncheon as Ohio State’s head football coach.
“I’m very honored to be here, I’m honored to be the coach of the Ohio State football team and to come back home and coach in the great state of Ohio.”
Now 48 years old, the Ashtabula native had been inside the Horseshoe nly once in a great number of years before his trip to Columbus last fall. The first was as a coach at Bowling Green, but last year Meyer was working as an analyst for ESPN when he stepped foot inside the great cathedral of Buckeye football. There was nothing unbiased about the chills running down his body when The Best Damn Band in The Land took the field to the tune of Hang on Sloopy.
“I’ll be coming out of my shoes a little bit,” he said in anticipation of the season-opener.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“I was 4 or maybe 3-1/2 years old when I first saw the Scarlet and Gray play, so it’s going to be an emotional time. Very much so.”
Meyer plans to carry a folder full of notes with him in case his mind starts to wander during all of the pageantry and tradition surrounding him on his first real game-day at Ohio State in nearly three decades.
Until then, there is still plenty of work to be done by Meyer’s staff and his players, who are anxious to rebound after one of the worst seasons in school history a year ago.
‘We'll go full pads today, full pads tomorrow, and if they act like humans and practice really hard, we'll go just shoulder pads on Wednesday,” Meyer said with his usual candor and straightforwardness.
“And then Thursday, once again, if they act like they're a professional outfit, we might take their shoulder pads off on Thursday.”
If not, the Buckeyes will be in full pads the entire week of practice.
“I anticipate that that won't happen,” Meyer added, “because they're really good practice guys right now.”
While this might feel like a bye week late in the week if Meyer lets the players take their pads off for Wednesday and Thursday’s practices – assuming they ‘act like humans’ – it will be anything but fun in the early part of the week.
“Normally speaking we go hard Tuesday, we call it ‘Bloody Tuesday,’” Meyer said.
“It's awful. Inside drills, run emphasis. Just bad stuff. It's all the hard blitzes, all the hard looks.
“By Wednesday we try to give them more confidence, and Thursday we try to clean it up a little bit. You don't want a ball on the ground and we say no balls on the ground, no playbacks. That means we're striving for game-ready on Thursday.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes will welcome senior linebacker Storm Klein back to the mix during today’s practice. Meyer and his staff have not addressed the issue with the team as a whole, but fellow linebacker Ryan Shazier says they are ready to welcome him back with open arms.
Klein missed all of fall camp after being dismissed from the team for a domestic violence dispute. He eventually pled down to a lesser charge and was recently reinstated, just in time for Bloody Tuesday.
“Tuesday is awful,” Meyer reiterated.
“Wednesday not as awful, and Thursday getting ready to play. And Friday you go out and walk through.”
And Saturday they play the first game in the Urban Meyer era of Ohio State football.
He’ll have his notes ready, as long as the band doesn’t start early.
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