In 2008, Urban Meyer's Florida team went 13-1, averaged over 43 points a game while giving up about 13, featured a reigning Heisman winner at quarterback, won the SEC and won the BCS national championship with a 24-14 victory over Oklahoma. It was as good a season as any coach could ever ask for.
What Urban Meyer is accomplishing this year won't end with his team winning the crystal football, but it's an even better coaching job.
Think about the advantages Meyer had that year. His offensive coordinator was Dan Mullen, who's now running a Top 20 team at Mississippi State. His defensive coordinator was Charlie Strong, who's now running a Top 20 team at Louisville.
Moreover, it was Meyer's fourth season with both of those guys—and only his redshirt seniors had been under a different coaching regime. There were only 10 of those redshirt seniors on Florida's team that year, too...and three were long snappers. Only two (offensive tackles Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins) were starters. Everyone else—except for JUCO players and other transfers, of course, and there weren't many of those—had been brought along in Meyer's regime for their entire collegiate careers. They were "his guys."
Oh, and lest we forget, Tim Tebow was his quarterback. Meyer could just call "Tebow smash" 20 times a game and have a good 30 percent of his play calls taken care of right there.
That's a lot of advantages. Meyer has the equivalent of none of them at Ohio State right now. And he's still got the Buckeyes undefeated and cruising.
Right now, Ohio State has a first-year coaching staff, one that Meyer has zero history working with. It's a little better for the players, as there are some leftovers from the Tressel era like co-defensive coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, but Fickell isn't as good a coach as Charlie Strong was back in 2008.
We saw what happened when Fickell was running the program for a season just last year, and Ohio State went 6-7. Granted, Fickell was in a tough spot, but "yeah but" doesn't show up in the record books at the end of the day. Six wins and seven losses do. Meyer's here now, and this Buckeye team isn't losing seven games in a season again for a long time.
Meanwhile, the offense is in its very first year of learning Meyer's offense—an offense that none of the starters were recruited to run or trained to run until Meyer showed up. Further, offensive coordinator Tom Herman is doing a fantastic job so far, but he's not what Dan Mullen was in 2008. No SEC team is calling him to be the head coach at the end of the season. Not yet.
Of course, Urban Meyer does have his own super-freak of a quarterback at Ohio State.
Yeah, that happens.
Meyer can call Braxton Miller's number about 15-to-20 times a game and just say, "Do Braxton Miller things," and what Meyer gets out of him puts Miller on a very short Heisman list. But Miller's not Tim Tebow. You have to monitor and manage Miller's workload. If you had to choose a comparison from Meyer's career, Miller's more like Alex Smith than Tebow, but really, Miller's not like any QB Meyer's ever had.
What really sets this coaching job apart is Meyer's embrace of the personnel he's got. Right now, this Ohio State offense is unlike any Meyer has run. Typically, Meyer goes spread and uses a variety of dynamic playmakers in the backfield to create big plays. In 2008, he had Percy Harvin, Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and David Nelson all in that type of role.
This year? The only guy in the backfield who even remotely had that kind of talent is Jordan Hall, and he's been healthy for all of 40 carries and three catches this year. Every other running back is pound, pound, pound.
So...Urban Meyer pounds.
After the Buckeyes dropped 371 rushing yards on Nebraska in their 63-38 win, per Eleven Warriors, here's what Urban Meyer said about the offense he's running:
“You can see what we are. We’re kind of a pound ya offense right now,” Meyer said. “I don’t mind that. I’ve not had a lot of those. But that’s a pound ya offense.”
That's what a great coach does. He fits the offense to the personnel, not the other way around (we're looking right at you, Michigan State). And right now, the Buckeyes are doing exactly what it should be doing—mashing the living daylights out of whoever's in front of them.
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