Urban Meyer is one of the greatest coaches in the country, but not even he can turn Ohio State into instant national championship contenders.
The Buckeyes hit the field on Tuesday for their first practice in the Meyer era, and, at least in early reviews, players and fans are pleased with what they’re seeing.
Meyer's first practice was intense and business-like, much more structured than former head coach Jim Tressel's were, according to the Washington Post.
“You can tell just by the practice: It’s totally different than coach Tressel’s (practices),” said third-year cornerback Bradley Roby. “Just the whole intensity of practice is more urgent, there’s more intensity, it’s more competitive. (The coaches) stress the competitiveness so it brings out more.”
This is exactly the kind of thing Ohio State fans want to hear.
The whole community is looking for a quick turnaround, and they feel that the Meyer is the right person to help magically make the transformation.
After all, he's the guy who made Utah nationally relevant, not to mention the pair of national titles he won at Florida.
Still, it would be wise for fans to lay off the expectations, at least in Meyer's first year.
No matter how talented, it takes a while for a new head coach to integrate his schemes and systems.
Plus, even when the players do learn all the X's and O's, it will still take a while for them to bring that knowledge to the field. Because when a 280-pound defensive end is flying at you, it makes pretty difficult to remember where your first and second reads are, especially when you’ve only run the route for a month.
What is a realistic win total in Meyer’s first season?
But the on-the-field issues are nothing compared to the sanctions that Ohio State will have to deal with in Meyer's first campaign.
Thanks to a number of incidents during the Tressel days, the Buckeyes face a one-year postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships.
The postseason ban hurts, but the scholarship reduction will be the thing that affects the performances on the gridiron.
The lack of scholarships means an absence of depth. If a key player or two suffers an injury, which is seemingly inevitable in football, a capable replacement will likely be missing.
If you need proof, look at USC the last few years and how thin they were when multiple players went down.
Meyer is a great coach, and Ohio State certainly has talented players returning, but a lack of depth and the kinks that come with a new coaching staff will hold the Buckeyes back.
Ohio State will certainly have a solid season, but anyone expecting more than six or seven wins in Meyer's first go-round needs to slow down.