Urban Meyer wasn’t surprised when he learned his team had been selected as the Big Ten’s preseason favorite entering 2017.
The Ohio State head coach also didn’t care.
“We weren’t at the top a year ago,” Meyer said referring to the Buckeyes’ finish to the 2016 season at Monday’s Big Ten media days press conference. “We were near there.
"Obviously, it's of no consequence."
Last offseason, Ohio State found itself in a similar spot as the league preseason favorite – and for the most part, lived up to the billing. Despite not making the Big Ten Championship Game, the Buckeyes earned a share of a fifth consecutive divisional title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Only Ohio State’s season would come to a sour end, thanks to a 31-0 loss to eventual national champion Clemson in the semifinal Fiesta Bowl.
Days away from the start of fall camp, Meyer insisted his team isn’t dwelling on its disappointing conclusion to the 2016 campaign.
“That ship has sailed,” he stated.
He did, however, admit that when it came to an OSU offense that sputtered down the stretch, the Buckeyes’ beat down at the hands of the Tigers served as a wakeup call.
“Obviously, it’s in the back of everyone’s minds,” Meyer said. “Professionally, it changed how we did some business on offense.”
Enter new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who spent the previous six seasons as the head coach at Indiana. Prior to his arrival in Bloomington, Wilson served as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, where he helped develop two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks in Jason White and Sam Bradford.
Traditionally more hands on with his offense, Meyer has deferred to Wilson’s expertise throughout this offseason. That’s the advantage employing an offensive coordinator of Wilson’s pedigree provides, with Meyer calling Wilson the “first established offensive coordinator I've ever hired."
With Wilson – as well as new quarterbacks coach Ryan Day – in the fold, Meyer is hopeful an Ohio State offensive attack that finished 81st in the nation in passing in 2016 will make drastic improvements.
If the Buckeyes can do that, while simultaneously possessing one of the nation’s most talented defenses, perhaps their place in the preseason polls will be the same at the end of the season as it is at the start of it.
At the top.
Other updates Meyer provided from Big Ten media days in Chicago on Monday include:
- Meyer noted that a year ago, Ohio State was the youngest team in college football. This season, the Buckeyes are one of the nation's more experienced teams.
- By Meyer's count, seven players possess the potential to become Ohio State's starting right guard, including Matthew Burrell, Malcolm Pridgeon, Branden Bowen, Demetrius Knox, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis and Thayer Munford.
- Senior tight end Marcus Baugh, who was spotted wearing a walking boot last week, is dealing with inflammation in his toe. Redshirt freshmen Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann are currently competing for playing time at the position.
- JUCO transfer Kendall Sheffield is pushing sophomore Damon Arnette for one of Ohio State's starting cornerback spots. Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller are fighting it out at free safety.
- As for the Buckeyes wide receivers, which Meyer admitted didn't meet the program's standards last year, Meyer called the competition for playing time "wide open."
- Meyer stated he didn't believe there's a gap between the Big Ten and his former conference, the SEC.
- "It's probably pretty fair," Meyer said when asked about comparisons between current Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and former OSU RB Ezekiel Elliott.
- Meyer praised the historic nature of Ohio State's rivalry with Michigan.
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