|Miller, left, and Meyer|
COLUMBUS — When asked about the possibility of going undefeated again, and reaching a national championship next season, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer answered the question in his usual uncompromisingly forthright manner.
"No, probably not," he said. "Unless we get a lot better.
"Like a LOT better.”
I don't believe Meyer is implying that his Buckeyes will be battling Indiana to stay out of the Leaders Division basement, but he isn't saying that the Buckeyes are ready to go toe-to-toe with Alabama, either.
“I don’t like to deal in speculation, Meyer said. "But I think we’re a very good team that can compete with any team in the country. I said even after the last game, that’s where I believe we are.
“But to say we could roll in there and beat a team like (Alabama), first of all I don’t want to speculate, and then if I was going to give you an honest answer, I think right now we have too many holes to fill.
Meyer is correct in his assessment. The Buckeyes have lost seven starters from a defensive unit which ranked second in the nation in total defense during the month of November. They lost all four starters on the defensive line, including Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, John Simon.
The "holes" are all on the defensive side of the football, a place that Meyer has been working diligently in recruiting to shore up.
Offensively, the Buckeyes should be able to score with any team in the nation. Quarterback Braxton Miller, who has been working this off-season with renowned quarterback guru George Whitfield, should take his game to the next level in his second year in Meyer's system — something which is quite scary being that he set a school-record for total yardage, you know, while learning the new ropes.
With a solid offensive line returning, as well as tailbacks Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall back in the mix, the Buckeyes' offense should be one of the most potent in the nation.
It'll be the fundamentals, not talent, that will decide the Buckeyes' fate, according to Meyer.
“Fundamentally, we are not where we need to be,” Meyer said. “I was fortunate to be at the (BCS) championship game (between Alabama and Notre Dame), and I think probably the best fundamental team I’ve certainly seen this year won that game. And that’s with leverage, that’s with tackling, blocking, all the things that help you win football games.”
Meyer loves that his team is in the national spotlight. That's what he lives for, truth be told.
But he certainly doesn't want his team reading headlines, and believing they have made it simply because they are coming off an unbeaten season and the pundits believe they are poised for a run to Pasadena.
So, in fear of that possibility, Meyer decides to take a motivational approach, telling his guys that for them to go unbeaten and play for a national title would be like "talking about we have to go fly to the moon."
The Buckeyes are a heck of a lot closer to Pasadena than the 239,000 miles it would take to reach the moon. But Meyer doesn't want his team to know that.
As far as he's concerned right now ... the opener against Buffalo is their "one giant step" toward getting to the title.