Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
The upcoming 2012 football season will see a third coach at the helm of the Ohio State Buckeyes since 2010. Transitioning through three head coaches in three different seasons could seem like a daunting task, and for some players it was, but OSU football’s new leader got the attention of players quickly.
In 2010, Jim Tressel was knowingly fielding a team with ineligible players and was later forced to resign on May 30, 2011. Last season, Luke Fickell led the Buckeyes to a 6-7 record and an appearance in the 2012 Gator Bowl. Fickell remains with the Buckeyes as the team’s co-defensive coordinator for what many OSU fans likely hope is the only head coach they’ll see for the foreseeable future – Urban Meyer.
Meyer has been at OSU for about six months and players said his impact was felt from the moment he took over. Junior defensive back C.J. Barnett said he wasn’t sure what to expect from Meyer, especially after coming off of a more “laid-back atmosphere” under Tressel and Fickell.
“He definitely got our attention right off the bat,” Barnett said. “But it’s been great ever since, things have been highly intense and very motivating.”
Meyer decided to make some big moves since being named OSU’s 24th head coach. He did not retain the services of offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Jim Bollman and hired in Tom Herman from Iowa State to be the new offensive coordinator, a position he held with the Cyclones for the last three years. He also let go defensive coordinator Jim Heacock and hired Everett Withers from North Carolina. He appointed Withers as assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator and Fickell will serve as defensive coordinator.
With the departure of Bollman, Meyer brought in Ohio-native Ed Warinner to be his offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator with Herman. Junior offensive lineman Corey Linsley said Warinner’s arrival has brought a more enthusiastic attitude than what Bollman had.
“Both coaches are great technicians but that’s what Bollman was known for,” Linsley said. “Coach Warinner is a little bit better at playing low and being enthusiastic in practice. He’s been great at getting us going and I think that’s helped us a lot.”
Senior tight end Jake Stoneburner said spring drills were a work in progress and at times it was difficult because they had to learn an entirely new offensive scheme.
“Our heads were spinning, it was like being a freshman all over again,” he said.
But he said things have been coming together recently and he’s excited for this season because it’s the type of offense he’s always wanted to a part of.
Stoneburner also said he thinks the offense will be able to get off at least 20 more plays a game due to the no-huddle pace Meyer has incorporated.
“Last year we would just huddle, break it, run a play, then slowly get back (to the huddle). Not that that was a bad thing, because we won a lot of games doing it, but as long as we’re (the offense) in shape, then we’re going to wear a lot of defenses down,” he said.
When Tressel was still at OSU, he was known for his belief that the punt was the most important play of the game. According to senior punter and place kicker Ben Buchanan, Meyer has brought a new punting strategy to the special teams unit. Buchanan said Meyer likes to directionally punt and focus on pinning the ball into the corners, which requires different blocking schemes than what the team was doing before.
“It’s exciting moving from the spring into the summer because in the spring, we didn’t have any idea of what we were getting into,” Buchanan said. “Last year, it was a totally different unit, a totally different scheme. Having those things (new schemes) in place for the spring as work in the summer months is going to make it a lot easier to be successful.”
The Buckeyes have three months remaining until they find out if Meyer and some of the new coaches on the staff have been successful in their tutelage when they open up 2012 at home against Miami (Ohio) Sept. 1.