Buckeye Football Notebook

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Last updated: 02/21/2014 1:30 AM
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Football
Buckeye Football Notebook
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes are now full steam ahead on the 2015 recruiting class, and it will be the first time in three years that they'll have the full allotment of 85 scholarships available to them.

For an outsider, the difference between the 82 scholarships the Buckeyes have been allowed the last three years and the 85 that they would normally have may not seem like much, but for Urban Meyer it caused a ton of problems.

"We didn't get through it very well," he said recently of the scholarship sanctions.

"We would have had more safeties. We would have not had special teams issues that we've had over the years. So nine scholarships was a tough deal. You start doing that with the multiplicity of injuries you deal with -- we had 13 season-ending injuries, so we're anxious to move forward."

Of course, the issues last season were also magnified because of the sheer number of players that were redshirted, but that's another story.

Second Place Is First Loser

By all accounts, the Buckeyes had a fantastic 2014 recruiting class. In fact, 247Sports ranked the Ohio State class #2 overall in the nation.

While most coaches would be happy with that, some would see it as a competition lost.

"Well, I mean, I hear people say it's not important," Urban Meyer said of recruiting rankings.

"I disagree. I think it's very -- as long as you're keeping score, we're going to try to win. I'm disappointing we weren't the number one recruiting class in the country. Our staff knows we're disappointed about that. Is that the final end all? No. But there is a correlation between how teams do and where your recruiting class is ranked.

"But certainly that's not the final product because you've got to coach and develop them and get them here. So actually we do pay attention to that. It's not saying we take a kid who is a five star over a three star, if we believe in the three star. That's not it at all. But I'll start watching it at the end of the recruiting class."

Just a Big Twitter Misunderstanding
Following the Orange Bowl loss by the Buckeyes, redshirting receiver Michael Thomas took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the way his fellow receivers had played in the game.

He didn't pull many punches, even if he did eventually pull many of the inflammatory tweets. Clearly he was frustrated with what he was watching, and he let his fingers do the talking.

Soon after, however, it was his position coach Zach Smith who did the talking.

"You know, I think it was perceived as more taking shots at positions, but Mike was as frustrated with any lack of production or lack of success as anybody, because he prepared to play," Smith said.

"He was a part of the team as much as anybody else. I think a lot of those were on our group, it was himself included. Mike knows at the end of the day that he could've beaten out anybody and offered more production, but he didn't – those guys beat him out.

"I read them and I addressed them with him of how it could look to other people, but I know the kid really well and it was more frustration with himself and us as a unit, and just our team not winning the last two games. I think he just needed to be educated on how things are perceived versus how they're meant."

Hit Refresh
When Urban Meyer hired his first coaching staff at Ohio State, he asked for a two-year commitment from each assistant before they went looking for other jobs. He got that two-year commitment, but following year two, he lost a pair of assistants to other jobs and was forced to find some new blood.

The funny thing, however, is that sometimes a transfusion is needed, and new blood is quite welcome. That's how Meyer viewed this opportunity to bring in some new voices to his coaching staff.

"I think so," he said, when asked if he needed some new voices on his coaching staff.

"I think so. I have a lot of confidence in the coaches that were here, and obviously we didn't perform up to standard. We won a lot of games, but there were some holes. Holes are very easy to blame on players or blame on coaches. Just overall we needed to freshen up our defense. That's what's going to get ready to take place over the next few months."

Updating the Special Teams Situation
While cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs may be going through a few adjustments on the defensive side of the ball with co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, there don't appear to be many changes coming to the special teams.

There were some very good moments last season, as well as a few that had Coombs and company cringing. This year they'll be breaking in a new starting placekicker, as well as new coverage units.

While Coombs doesn't expect his role to change when it comes to the kicking game, he does expect all aspects of the special teams to improve.

"I don't think that will dramatically change," Coombs said of his special teams responsibilities.

"Obviously we're going to look to improve in those areas. We saw great improvement across the board but there's still a lot of work to be done on special teams. Coach Meyer is incredibly involved on special teams as you all know. Great emphasis for our entire team and coaching staff. I would expect that we're going to continue. We're working right now on the improvements we're going to make in the four running teams for next year.

"Obviously there's player development that has to take place there as well, with a new kicker coming in. And so there are things we're going to improve on. And we're examining all four running teams, how we will change and improve our schemes across the board. So I don't know how much more or less there will be. I think we're all in this whole thing together, I really do."

Atlanta, We Have a Problem
By now, everybody has heard the story of offensive coordinator Tom Herman's 19-hour torment stuck in the now-famous Atlanta traffic jam while on a recruiting trip last January.

No food, no water, no vehicular movement, from one day 'til the next. People abandoned cars, abandoned hope, and were essentially at the mercy of a city that was unequipped to handle a winter storm.

OSU's director of recruiting Mark Pantoni was the one responsible for sending Herman into that hell, so how did he handle the ordeal?

He slept through it.

"That was unbelievable," Pantoni recalled.

"I talked to him that night, probably about 10:30 before I went to bed and he’s like, ‘Hey, I haven’t moved in traffic at all.’ And so the next morning, he calls me, probably 5:30 in the morning and I’m thinking he’s getting ready to get on a flight to go see Demetrius [Knox] and he goes, ‘Hey, I still haven’t moved,” and I’m like ‘What are you talking about? You still haven’t moved?’ and he’s like ‘I’m still sitting here, I still haven’t had anything to eat, drink.’

"He was like, ‘Can I leave my rental car here?’ I’m thinking holy cow, I don’t know. That’s not my call. I’m thinking I’ve got to get a hold of Gene [Smith] or figure out what to do here. Luckily we got a hold of the rental car agency and they said it was fine for him to leave, but the most important part with him was worrying about his safety.

"You could tell he was definitely delirious. He hadn’t slept. He hadn’t ate or drank. So I was more worried about his safety and that he got somewhere to be able to do that stuff. He had a few slips on the ice on the way to the gas station, but he made it fine. He made it to Dallas that day."

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