Urban Meyer Past and Present: Comparing 2012's Team to the 2006 Florida Gators
The last time fans saw Urban Meyer on the same field as Ohio State was during the 2007 BCS National Championship. The game couldn't have started any better for Ohio State with Ted Ginn Jr. returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
Unfortunately for Buckeye fans around the nation, that would be the extent of their excitement. Urban Meyer's Florida Gator squad ended up dominating Ohio State 41-14, leaving OSU fans in a state of misery.
Five years later, Meyer is now the head football coach in Columbus and fans are expecting similar results that he experienced while in Florida.
But what if the Buckeye team that Meyer now has control of played his 2006 Florida Gator championship team? Here is a breakdown by position to see where the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes would stack up.
Florida: Chris Leak
Ohio State: Braxton Miller
While Chris Leak had a better pocket presence and threw the ball more accurately than Miller, it is Braxton’s elusiveness and explosiveness that gives him an edge.
Opposing defenses have to plan against Miller's running and passing abilities. If given time in the pocket, Braxton can make most of the throws necessary to move the chains. If the play happens to break down or the defense gets the edge on the offensive line, he can also use his speed and agility to get first downs.
While Leak was a solid passer back in the pocket, he did not put the fear in opposing defenses by creating plays with his arm and legs.
Advantage: Ohio State
Florida: DeShawn Wynn
Ohio State: Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde
The running back tandem that Ohio State will possess in 2012 will be a mix of both power and speed. This combination is something Florida did not have in the running back position during the 2006 season.
Jordan Hall has the ability to be effective in both the rushing and receiving game while Carlos Hyde adds a powerful presence to the backfield that will be helpful in the red zone and short yardage situations.
DeShawn Wynn did lead the Gators in rushing yards in 2006, but was one-dimensional in Florida’s offense by only catching six passes all season for a total of 58 yards. Wynn also collected only six touchdowns during the season due to Florida’s successful aerial assault and the emergence of QB Tim Tebow’s rushing ability.
Two is greater than one, thus giving the edge to Ohio State.
Advantage: Ohio State
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Florida: Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell, Jemalle Cornelius, Percy Harvin, Cornelius Ingram
Ohio State: Devin Smith, Corey Brown, Jake Stoneburner, Verlon Reed, Chris Fields
Florida’s leading receiver Dallas Baker had more receiving yards in 2006 than Ohio State’s top four wide receivers had combined throughout all of 2011. The Gators also relied heavily on Andre Caldwell and Jemalle Cornelius, who combined for over 1,000 receiving yards.
With the addition of speedster Percy Harvin, this group of receivers was a special one. Ohio State has a young group of receivers that have a ton of potential, but there is a lot of room for improvement after ranking 115th in the NCAA in passing offense last year. Florida easily takes the advantage in this matchup.
Florida: Jim Tartt, Phil Trautwein, Steve Rissler, Drew Miller, Carlton Medder
Ohio State: Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, Brian Bobek, Jack Mewhort, Marcus Hall
Urban Meyer expressed that one of his major priorities in this year’s recruiting class was to add depth to the offensive line. Ohio State’s offensive linemen struggled to keep Braxton Miller off his back throughout the 2011 campaign.
Three starters from last year’s squad were also lost due to graduation. The group of offensive lineman Florida had in 2006 started every game together in 2006—with the exception of one—and only allowed 23 sacks. Ohio State will likely go through some growing pains with an almost entirely new offensive line in 2012.
Give the nod to Florida here.
Florida: Derrick Harvey, Ray McDonald, Joe Cohen, Jarvis Moss
Ohio State: Nathan Williams, John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Steve Miller, Noah Spence
The 2006 defensive front that Florida possessed was big, fast and physical. They were a large part that factored into the Florida defense that held its opponents to 72.5 rushing yards per game during that season.
Defensive end Derrick Harvey had three sacks against the Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS National Championship and the group as a whole helped hold Ohio State to zero rushing yards during the first quarter.
Ohio State also has a talented group of defensive linemen that are sure to cause problems for opposing offenses next season. Urban Meyer has also added four highly-rated recruits that will add depth to the line for the future. The defensive line will be one of the strongest assets of the 2012 Ohio State team, but will not be quite at the same level as the 2006 Florida squad.
Florida: Earl Everett, Brandon Siler, Brian Crum
Ohio State: Ryan Shazier, Etienne Sabino, Storm Klein
Ohio State linebackers struggled in 2011, but with Luke Fickell returning as a linebackers coach along with his other responsibilities, this group in 2012 should have a solid showing.
Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein will return as starters next year. Ryan Shazier will be the third starter but has a lot of experience after filling in for Andrew Sweat, who lost some time due to injury last year. Florida linebacker Earl Everett led the team with 85 tackles in 2006 with his fellow linebacker Brandon Siler close behind with 77 tackles, respectively.
The linebacker corps was a vital part of the Florida defense that only allowed 13.5 points per game during their national championship run.
Florida: Reggie Lewis, Ryan Smith, Reggie Nelson, Tony Joiner
Ohio State: Bradley Roby, Travis Howard, Orhian Johnson, C.J. Barnett
Florida had one of the top secondaries in the NCAA in 2006. They led the Southeastern Conference with 21 interceptions with CB Ryan Smith and FS Reggie Nelson combining for 14 of those interceptions during the season.
The secondary also did not allow a passing touchdown in seven games during 2006.
Ohio State's secondary will see all four starters from its 14th nationally ranked passing defense return from last year and will look to add to the 13 interceptions it grabbed during 2011. Ohio State should have one of the best pass defenses in the NCAA next year, but it will be tough for them to surpass the performance the Florida secondary put on display in 2006.
After breaking down these two teams by position, the 2006 Florida Gators seem to have the edge on the projected 2012 Buckeye team.
However, a huge percentage of the student-athletes on this Ohio State team are products from the Jim Tressel era. Urban Meyer has already made an immediate splash in recruiting—perhaps not to the liking of Wisconsin—and is already starting to create a team to fit his style. After a few more recruiting classes like the one Meyer assembled in 2012, and Buckeye fans could see a similar ending like his 2006 Florida Gator team produced, with Meyer holding up that glass football trophy with scarlet and gray confetti falling from the sky.