COLUMBUS — When Urban Meyer was hired as head coach of the Ohio State football team following last season, many Buckeye fans expected the championship-winning mentor to come in, wave a magic wand, and turn a 6-7 squad into the New England Patriots ... in just one year.
Shoot, in just one game for some people.
Although the Buckeyes are currently 4-0, have outscored their opponents by a 20.5 points per game margin, racked up 427 yards and 37.8 points per contest — 109 yards and 13.3 points per game more than a season ago — it doesn't prevent fans from thinking the team hasn't succeeded much under Meyer.
"You've got to think about where this team was, now," Meyer said. "This is not a finely tuned machine right now, and it hasn't been for a while. Obviously, there's some growing pains."
Nobody is more critical on the Buckeyes' performance thus far than Meyer. Even after displaying the major improvements to the team's production under the new coach, Meyer still points out the negatives and what the Buckeyes need to do to get where he, and the fans, want the boys in scarlet and gray to be.
"We need plays and we need drives. I saw a stat somewhere where we have had 10 drives over 70 yards or something," Meyer said. "You should have 10 in a frickin' game."
But unlike some fans, Meyer isn't the type to live in the negative. He does see improvements and flashes of what this team can be.
Example: his sophomore quarterback, Braxton Miller, who has gone from a deer-in-the-headlights player in 2011, to a major Heisman Trophy contender this season.
"I'm feeling much better about our quarterback," Meyer said of Miller. "If you notice his fundamentals are much improved from where it was from day one to day whatever it is. You can see in the highlights, you always talk about the stripe of his helmet, I'm going to throw the ball over here. You just can't stare there all the time. He's doing a very good job.
"I mean it's fun to watch, go watch a highlight of a couple of passes he threw. His stripe of his helmet is this way and he sets his feet, that's the trust between him and the wideout and it's just his growth as a quarterback."
Meyer certainly believes that the Buckeyes are a major work in progress — maybe even a bit behind schedule — but feels strongly that they are going to be a great team before too long, and live up to the lofty expectations OSU fans have for them.
"I thought we'd be further ahead," Meyer said. "I was well aware of our shortcomings. I thought we'd be more aggressive in certain areas.
"I know we're Ohio State. And there's all kinds of expectations here. And I'm still not giving up. I think by the end of the year this might be hell of a football team. I mean, might be sooner than that."
Meyer stated that the Buckeyes are one of the youngest teams in the nation, and when they get their feet under them, people are going to take notice.
"There's some people that gotta make some choices and do a better job in a lot of areas and get some young players experience," Meyer said. "We're playing more freshmen than any school in America. And sometimes it looks awful at times, but it's our job to coach them through that and get them to be sophomores real fast.
"So that's where we're at. I still think we have potential to be a hell of a football team. By the end of the year I think people will be thinking, saying great things about Ohio State, I really do."