CHICAGO –– Coming off back-to-back losses to close out the 2013 season, the 2014 Ohio State Buckeye football team is excited to get back to work.
OSU senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said the losses to Michigan State and Clemson that finished what was shaping up to be a historic season have become lessons learned.
“You just got to learn from your mistakes,” Heuerman said. “You can take a positive out of any situation. We have the experience now that we didn’t have last year going into the Big Ten Championship Game and that we didn’t have going to a BCS bowl.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer said he hopes his team will use the losses as motivation.
“As I walked off the field, I knew something was wrong,” Meyer said of the loss against Clemson. “We were not very good in certain areas. The amount of effort…it should show dividends for this year.”
Heuerman, along with senior quarterback Braxton Miller, had only experienced postseason football once prior to the 2013 Big Ten Championship game, which was a 24-16 loss to the Florida Gators in the 2012 Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl to end the 2011 season.
OSU went undefeated in 2012 but served a one-year bowl ban handed down by the NCAA following the highly-publicized tattoo scandal that involved former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor and former coach Jim Tressel.
Heuerman said the Buckeyes have and will continue to use the losses to MSU and Clemson as fuel in 2014.
“We have used it in the offseason a lot,” Heuerman said. “(We will) use it this year and obviously try to take the positive out of it.”
Miller echoed his tight end’s comments.
“When something goes bad you have to turn it into a positive,” Miller said. “Everybody has to get together and make something happen for the coming year. I have seen a lot of guys maturing more and they are ready to perform this year.”
It seemed only fitting that Miller and Heuerman had nearly identical comments, as they were a part of the same 2011 freshman class.
“We always hang out, he lives right around the corner from me,” Miller said. “If we want to go eat somewhere, I will come over there or pick him up.”
The on-the-field connection between Miller and Heuerman was important for the Buckeye offense last season as the combo connected three times for scores in 2013, including touchdowns against Michigan and Clemson.
Heuerman said that while he enjoys scoring, he does other things with just as much enthusiasm.
“I was fortunate, we had a lot of offensive playmakers and sometimes you luck out,” Heuerman said of his late success last season. “I don’t pay attention to that as much — I get just as excited about making a big block as making a big catch.”
Heuerman also said he does not get upset when he does not get the ball.
“The quarterback position in this offense is like no other position and he has so much more going on than I do,” Heuerman said of Miller. “They say tight ends have to do a lot? I mean he’s got almost twice as much.”
With Miller’s heavy workload, Meyer said he and his staff have to do a better job of managing their star quarterback.
“We try to protect him, surround him and maybe come up with a good scheme to get the ball out of his hands maybe a little quicker,” Meyer said Monday. “Those are all the things that we address.”
Meyer has about a month to prepare his quarterback and the rest of his team before they begin their 2014 regular season against Navy Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.