Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Urban Meyer
(AP/Jay LePrete)
COLUMBUS — With a week of spring practice now in the books for the new Urban Meyer-led Ohio State football team, the Buckeyes' head coach is starting to see what kind of cards he's been dealt in his first season in Columbus.

As individuals, he likes the hand he's been given.

"I think our players are really good people," Meyer said Wednesday, following practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. "The kids are eager to learn and they all have good attitudes.

"They are just really good kids."

Really good kids who are getting a fast paced, pedal to the metal introduction into the world of football under perhaps the best college coach in the country over the past decade.

Offensively, there is a whole new philosophy, a whole new approach — a system that resembles a Bugatti Veyron compared to the last regime's Toyota Prius. And right now, the offense is having issues getting out of first gear. They are definitely behind the defense after a week of spring workouts. 

In fact, in two live practices in full pads, the defense has won each time out.

However, Meyer said at this point, that's how it should be.

"This early on in practice, the defense better win," Meyer said. 

Meyer stated, though, that he isn't disappointed in where the offense is at this point. He just hopes the learning process begins to pick up the pace.

"We're not where we need to be, but I'm not upset," Meyer said of his offense. "I wish we would get there faster ... but no, I'm not disappointed. You have to remember, we have at least three new coaches on offense as well ...

"This is how it was when I was at Florida, Utah and Bowling Green."

MEYER AND MILLER FORGING FUN RELATIONSHIP ... The relationship between a coach and his quarterback is critical to a team's success. And right now, Meyer and Buckeyes starting quarterback Braxton Miller seem to becoming pretty good pals.

During warmups Wednesday, as Miller was doing legs kick stretches, Meyer pushed his signal caller mid-kick, causing him to fall of balance. When Miller regrouped, he went to push Meyer back and the coach slapped his hand away. For the next few seconds, the two playfully slap boxed.

Although the defense won the live scrimmage on Wednesday, it didn't keep Miller from showing his brilliance in Meyer's new system. With the ball resting at the defense's 45-yard line, Miller took a snap from shotgun, rolled right and hit receiver Corey "Philly" Brown deep down field for a touchdown. It was the only score of the day for the offense in the live scrimmage.

Of course, the play garnered a high-five and a pat on the helmet from Meyer.

SIMON AND HANKINS DOMINATING ... Senior defensive end John Simon and junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins have been monsters during the first week of spring camp.

Each seemed to reside in the offensive backfield Wednesday more than the running backs, blowing up plays and recording a plethora of sacks.

On three consecutive plays in the live scrimmage, Hankins recorded a sack of Miller and a fumble recovery of a botched handoff, followed by a Simon sack.

They were a nightmare for the Buckeyes revamped offensive front.

"John Simon and Hankins were disrupting everything out there today," Meyer said.

Simon has already been declared a team captain by the Buckeyes head coach.

PLAYERS WHO CAUGHT MY EYE WEDNESDAY ... There were two players who captured my attention while observing practice. The first is freshman wide receiver Michael Thomas.

The 6-foot-2, 196-pound wideout from Los Angeles made at least three one-handed catches in drills Wednesday and during the live scrimmage he caught everything thrown his way and even showed an instinctual style unbecoming of a freshman. He's fluid, natural and doesn't seem to care about going over the middle for tough catches or turning up field for yards after the catch.

With the receiver position being a weakness last season, look for Thomas to get his opportunity to make a statement as a freshman.

The other player who stood out to me was sophomore cornerback Doran Grant. The Akron-native, who was running with the ones during the scrimmage in place of the dinged up Travis Howard, was locking receivers down consistently. He has great athleticism, incredible ball skills and the size (5-11, 190) to jostle with the bigger receivers.

— You can follow Lee Hudnell on Twitter @LeeHudnell_TBT