Ohio State Football: Where Urban Meyer Can Make Biggest Impact on Team

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IFebruary 20, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 02:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Ohio State Buckeyes are getting a huge shot in the arm when it comes to coaching on the offensive side of the ball this year. By adding Urban Meyer and relative unknown OC Tom Herman to the staff, Ohio State will have a vastly superior offensive coaching staff to that from the past year. However, with an offensive staff that included current Boston College OL coach Jim Bollman and Nick Siciliano, that's not exactly saying all that much.

It goes without saying that the offense will be much better by having competent coaching on that side of the ball for the first time since the John Cooper era.

While it may take some time for Ohio State to get the explosive offense that Meyer had at Florida—due to a lack of proven playmakers—there is one area that should see an improvement from day one.

The special teams game is the one that may see the biggest, quickest turnaround in terms of impact and improvement. Meyer was the special teams coach at Florida and in his time there, he had two special teams advantages most teams didn't have: explosive returns and an even more explosive punt blocking game.

In the return game, he had great kick returners in Brandon James and, later, Andre Debose, who used pure speed to break big returns and shorten or flip the field. Ohio State has not really had that since Ted Ginn, Jr. back in 2004-06, with the exception of 2010 where Jaamal Berry and Jordan Hall combined to finish No. 5 in the country in yards per return.

Meyer will not have a Ginn-type returner, at least that we know of, but he will find players that can run and find holes in the return game to shrink the field. Guys like Hall, WR Corey Brown and new DB recruit Armani Reeves are the type of returners that would flourish in the return game from the start.

While kick returns can be a big momentum changer, the only thing that can change games more on special teams are punt blocks. Jim Tressel said over and over again that the punt is the most important play in football.

Ohio State has not typically had much of a punt return game, but have had a couple of punt blocks in the past few years, including one by Ryan Shazier that helped spark the Buckeyes' upset win over Wisconsin. The only problem is that Chris Rainey has blocked more punts in his career than Ohio State probably had in the entire Jim Tressel era.

Meyer's punt block formations at Florida were almost legendary as he put his fastest players on the punt block team and unleashed them all on the opposition. As for the Buckeyes, he has quite a few new recruits on the team with an excellent combination of speed and size that can be a part of the punt block game, like David Perkins and Devan Bogard among others.

It will be interesting to see how long it will be before the Ohio State special teams unit starts to resemble the game-changing ability that the Gators have had in the Meyer era. If it does, things will be very exciting very quickly because of how exciting a punt block or a big kick return is.

That type of thing will help get the Buckeyes back on track very quickly.

 

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