COLUMBUS, Ohio — The first day of spring football practice is in the books, and many judgments have already been handed down in regards to what was seen. Perhaps a better assessment would come from Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer, who spoke with the media Tuesday evening about what he saw.
Urban Meyer's Assessment of the Buckeyes After One Practice is Mixed, but Optimistic
By Tony Gerdeman
Following a season where the Buckeyes began 12-0 before losing their final two games, the goal this season is to keep that from happening again. That process began on Tuesday, though Meyer isn't looking to totally deconstruct what has already been built.
"We came back and took a lead in the fourth quarter and gave up in the last two (games), gave up a late score, but that happens," he said of last year's disappointing finish.
Photo by Dan Harker
"If I felt like there was a lack of fight then you blow the whole thing up. It was certainly not a lack of fight, so we've got to improve, got to finish. I like where we're at as a team. Coach Fick likes where we're at and what we do."
Meyer has seen the fight that he wants from his players, and what he wants to see this spring is for them to just go out there and play and have some fun. He doesn't want the players being held back by his coaches, as they try to fine tune a player six months before he even plays a game.
Mistakes are okay at the moment, provided they happen at full speed. This has always been one of Meyer's mantras, and it is no different this time around.
"I just want guys to play," he said.
"Don't restrict players. Let them go and have fun and play the game. We don't play tomorrow. Here's a good example, Jalin Marshall today is a completely different football player than he was a year ago. Why? I put that on the coach. Let the kid go play."
Marshall was definitely one of the stand outs of Tuesday's practice, making catches all over the field and looking dynamic while doing it. He appears to have taken quite well to the new approach.
Another player who has stepped up?
"I think Doran Grant is a different player than he was a year ago," Meyer said. "He's a much more aggressive player right now."
Grant had several pass break ups during Tuesday's practice and appears to be set to be the Buckeyes' number one cornerback.
With Braxton Miller out for the spring, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett took most of the snaps as the two vie to be Miller's backup. While both had positive moments, they apparently didn't have enough for Meyer's likings.
"I don't know whose going to be the backup," he said. "I wasn't particularly impressed with both guys today."
While watching each player individually, Meyer will also be watching his team as a whole. He'll be looking for a specific identity from his team, particularly a little bit of anger.
"I felt last year, I don't want to say the word entitled, but I felt like there was...I like an angry and blue-collar team," he said. "Were we that? I don't know."
Meyer has a lot on his plate right now, not the least of which is monitoring his own self following a short medical procedure this past weekend to remove a small fluid collection related to a congenital arachnoid cyst.
The procedure was done this weekend to alleviate intermittent headaches Meyer had been experiencing the past few weeks. He said he feels good, but has been told not to yell much or blow his whistle too long.
"I feel great," he said, before correcting himself.
"I feel good, not great, I feel good. I've had it for several years. It's a cyst, an arachnoid cyst that that surfaced a couple of times, once in '98, once in '04, then a couple of other times. It was just something you had to manage. I had a procedure done at the medical center to release the pressure and I'm ready to go."
With Meyer ready to go, up next for the head coach and his Buckeyes is a second practice on Thursday afternoon before breaking for 12 days for Spring Break.
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