Hidden yards are never really hidden for football coaches, which is why they’re always working so hard looking for ways to find them.
Those hidden yards come via the kicking game. Special teams may be overlooked by some, but it is always crucial to the game, especially at Ohio State under Urban Meyer.
Meyer loves special teams and has shown throughout his career that he is very particular about the kicking game.
But his long-time love for special teams didn’t come by choice.
“It’s a long story, but back when I was at Notre Dame, Bob Davey came in and said ‘I’m going to make you special teams coordinator,’ I said, ‘No I don’t want to do that,’ but it was either do that or get fired,” Meyer said chuckling.
The journey he took when he accepted the position led him to understand how valuable special teams are to a program. He visited a number of different programs and coaches and saw the time and energy that so many of his peers put into the kicking game. He has since implemented everything he has learned into how he coaches special teams at Ohio State.
“I love it and I just think it’s a difference maker,” he said. “All the big wins we’ve ever had — ever — special teams has been a major impact.”
And while at some places special teams is thought of like a chore, part of Meyer’s philosophy is playing the best players on special teams. This has been evident for many of Ohio State’s former stars who started out on special teams. Meyer uses this to show the players the importance of playing on special teams.
“We just had this meeting with our team yesterday and I listed all the players from Zeke Elliott to Mike Thomas,” he said.
One other factor that sets the Ohio State special teams apart from the other units, and even other teams, is how involved Meyer is with the kicking game.
“Oh, he’s huge,” said kicker Sean Nuernberger. “I think a lot of people that come from the outside and watch the way we do special teams are really surprised how much time Coach Meyer spends on special teams compared to other head coaches. He’s in there every single special teams meeting. Coach Coombs and Coach Meyer run the meeting and they’re really involved in every single phase.”
“When there is a problem, Coach Meyer is the first one in there fixing the problem,” Nuernberger said. “It’s not like there’s special teams guys doing this thing, it’s him.”