Urban Meyer is a football coach at heart, which is why he returned to the sidelines to lead the Ohio State program last season. One thing about coaches is they are always looking for a negative as a way to inspire their team to get better.
Perhaps the run defense wasn't stout enough during spring practice, or wide receivers were slow coming out of breaks. It's all part of the process. Coaches, especially those with talent-laden rosters and fanbases with high expectations, are constantly searching for areas where their squad can improve.
Meyer is certainly no different. That's why his early optimism comes as a surprise. Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch passed along comments from the polarizing head coach, and even he's surprised about how he feels heading into the season.
Before he went on vacation in July, the Ohio State football coach felt a disquieting optimism about his 2013 team.
“On the Friday before I left, I walked up to our strength coach (Mickey Marotti) as I was walking out and I said, ‘I don’t like this,'" Meyer recalled two weeks ago during Big Ten media days in Chicago. "He goes, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I feel too good. Something is not right here. I’m usually not a feel-good guy.'"
With practice underway and just over three weeks until Ohio State opens the campaign, it probably won't be long before Meyer reverts to coach speak. A couple mistakes during drills or a lack of overall effort is all it will take.
That said, Meyer's optimistic tone is an ominous sign for the Buckeyes' Big Ten rivals. Not only are they ranked No. 2 in the USA Today preseason poll, but a coach who's been around plenty of winning teams is giving off a sense of confidence.
In reality, the longtime coach has every reason to feel good about his team's chances. Ohio State is coming off an undefeated season, which featured three wins over ranked opponents, including rival Michigan to complete the unbeaten run.
Along with the large number of returning contributors from that team, Meyer and his staff added the second-ranked recruiting class, according to 247 Sports. So the roster is clearly built for success, and the voters obviously took note.
It all starts with Braxton Miller. The game-changing quarterback accounted for over 3,310 yards of offense and 28 touchdowns last season. His role should only continue to expand with more experience under his belt as a junior.
Add in a veteran receiving group and a tremendous offensive line to complete a unit that should give traditionally strong Big Ten defenses a lot of problems.
On defense, the Buckeyes have a nice mix of reliable upperclassmen and rising stars who should find a way to make an impact. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are among the next wave of standouts ready to break through.
So, at least on the surface, Meyer has every reason to remain optimistic. Ohio State belongs inside the preseason top five and, assuming the Buckeyes don't endure bad luck on the injury front, should remain in national championship contention.
Of course, they are going to get the best effort every team has to offer starting with Buffalo after receiving so much preseason praise. But they have the talent to back it up.
Meyer likes where his team stands with the new season fast approaching. That's bad news for everybody else in the Big Ten and potentially the nation.