Monday Morning Hangover: First Glimpse of Surly Urban Meyer
By Brandon Castel
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Urban Meyer was tired of talking about the flaws in his undefeated football team following Ohio State’s 35-23 victory over Penn State on Saturday night.
Meyer was asked whether this was the first time his Buckeyes had put together a complete game this season, but the typically lighthearted coach took exception to the phrasing of the question, which seemed to suggest his team had not played a full four quarters in the first eight wins of the season.
“I probably disagree,” Meyer said, a bit sharply.
“Let's focus on the positive, OK. You're 9-0. It's kind of good to be 9-0. And 9-0, maybe you guys can help me on how many teams have gone 9-0.”
Urban Meyer presides over the postgame interview in Happy Valley
Photo by Jim Davidson
Currently, there are five other undefeated teams in the AP Top-25 – including four of the five teams ahead of Ohio State – and none of them have more than eight wins so far.
At Ohio State, there have only been 12 teams in school history to start a season 9-0, the last being in 2007, when the Buckeyes won 10 straight games to start the year before losing to Illinois at home in November.
The Buckeyes have to make sure they clear that hurdle before their final stretch of the season, which includes a bye week, a trip to Madison and “The Game” in Columbus to close out Meyer’s first season at Ohio State.
“So we're going to enjoy that win and we're going to work on some things,” Meyer said after the win in State College.
“Obviously, we're exposed on punt right now. So we've got to get better. But, we ran for 250 (yards) and they ran for (34). So, if you want to have a conversation about how well our guys played, I'm interested.”
This was the first time Meyer has taken exception to a reporter asking him about something that wasn’t necessarily positive in nature, although this specific question was actually about the fact his team had put together its best four quarters of the season against Penn State.
While it’s understandable Meyer would like to enjoy a hard-fought victory on the road in a tough environment, he has easily been his team’s No. 1 critic since he took over the program back in January.
If Meyer wants to focus on the positive now that his team is 9-0, that makes perfect sense. The Buckeyes are the class of the Big Ten right now and they are just three wins away from an undefeated perfect regular season in Meyer’s first go-around.
There is plenty to like about these Buckeyes, but that doesn’t suddenly erase some of the weaknesses Meyer has been pointing out since all the way back in the spring.
If you’re wondering about the status of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller after the Penn State game, go back and watch that ridiculous one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. No, seriously, do it. I promise you’ll thank me later.
As for Miller’s health, it appears the sophomore is a little more resilient than many of us would have thought. One week after being carted to the locker room and rushed to the hospital, Miller did not miss a single snap against the Nittany Lions Saturday night.
“I'm good,” he said after the game, when he was asked about his neck.
“My body's good.”
If you’re like me, you probably cringed a few times when Miller could not get out of the way of oncoming collisions. He says he’s fine and he looks fine, but I still can’t get that image of a trainer holding him in his seat on the cart as it was headed for the locker room.
That didn’t stop him from rushing for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns against one of the better front sevens he will face all season. His longest run was “just” 33 yards, but it’s the second week in a row he hasn’t had a run of more than 40 yards.
I guess now I can see why one of the posters on our message board said “I’m done with Braxton Miller” right before he led the team to victory in the second half.
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