Urban Meyer believes in leadership. His Ohio State team of 2016 went 11-2 and made it to the College Football Playoff, but the leadership intangible wasn't where the coach wanted it to be. With the 2017 season approaching, Meyer says that has changed. He arrived at Big 10 football media days in Chicago, with veterans Billy Price, Chris Worley and Tyquan Lewis along side, representing Ohio State.
"I have three fifth year seniors here and I've never had that at media day," Meyer said in an exclusive interview with 610 WTVN and 105.7, the Zone. "Usually it's some underclassmen because everybody leaves after three or four years so the top end leadership on our team is as good as we've ever had and I'm into that now...I think that's going to have a direct impact on our team."
Ohio State's most decorated leader, quarterback J.T. Barrett was not among the Buckeyes in Chicago but he too is a fifth year senior who will be relied upon both on and off the field. He enters his final season at Ohio State with a new offensive coordinator in Kevin Wilson and a new quarterback coach in Ryan Day. The style of offense will still be Meyer's spread attack, but Wilson will have a significant impact on what Buckeye fans see in the fall.
"I think the (change) in efficiency and our tempo will be very noticeable," Meyer said. "(Wilson) is very much a believer in going fast and so is Ryan Day who is co-coordinator. The efficiency throwing the ball (should be improved) and doing the things that our quarterback does best. That's what we have to do and I don't believe we did that all the time last year."
Ohio State's opener this season will have an interesting side bar. Wilson--coach at Indiana for six years--returns to Bloomington running the Buckeye offense on Thursday August 31st. It will mark the first time in 41 years the Buckeyes will open the season with a conference game.
"That changes quite a bit," Meyer said of the opener with the Hoosiers. "Usually (the opener) is a non-conference opponent at home. You might experiment, you might try to do some things but we'd better be on point. Indiana's a war every time we play them, it's on the road, it's going to be Labor Day (weekend) with a big crowd and big everything---it's March Madness man, you cannot stub your toe, you have to go in ready to play."