In the Ohio State football team meeting room, a sign details the Buckeyes’ “plan to win.”
The plan lists playing great defense first, followed by winning the turnover battle, scoring in the red zone and winning the kicking game.
That plan was designed to put the Buckeyes in a position to win Big Ten and national titles, and that doesn’t have to change after senior quarterback Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending injury Monday.
Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman confirmed that those plans haven’t changed, adding that the team knows exactly what it has to do.
“We’ve just got to compete for championships,” Heuerman said Wednesday.
Senior cornerback Doran Grant reiterated the words of Heuerman, saying the expectations at a place like OSU never change.
“We’re the Ohio State Buckeyes, and we’ve got to get there,” Grant said.
OSU coach Urban Meyer said Miller’s injury — which he said is a torn labrum in the signal caller’s throwing shoulder — caused a “devastating” moment on the practice field. However, the team has come back strong since then, he added.
Meyer went so far as to say Wednesday morning — when the Buckeyes’ participated in their 20th practice this fall — was arguably the best practice any of his teams have had since his staff arrived in Columbus.
“Really impressed,” the third-year OSU coach said. “The energy, the speed; I think they see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it was a very, very good day.”
Meyer said moving forward without Miller is a “huge test” for his team, but the players have been up to the challenge so far.
While Miller did account for 44 percent of OSU’s offense last season, Meyer said the most important thing right now is getting his team ready — no matter who is on the field. He said a quarterback is an “important cog” in the team, but there is more than that to winning football games.
“One thing our team is pretty good at, and I’ve gotten better at, is worrying about the moment,” Meyer said. “And the moment is getting a team ready.”
While redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett has been penciled in to Miller’s previously set-in-stone spot, players on the defensive side of the ball know they have to step up just as much as the offense.
“Play great defense” is No. 1 on OSU’s plan to win, after all.
“On the field, playing, we just have to get the job done,” Grant said. “We have our job to do.”
Senior linebacker Curtis Grant, who is entering his second season as a starter on the Buckeye defense, said the injury to Miller doesn’t have to mean more pressure for the defense.
He said that adding pressure on oneself can lead to a decreased quality of play on the field. At the end of the day, Curtis Grant said the Buckeye defense just has to keep doing what they always do.
“We still go out there and have fun and play the game,” he said. “Because that’s what we’re here for.”
Doran Grant said the OSU defense knows it has to step up, but that doesn’t necessarily stem from Miller’s injury.
In 2013, the Buckeye defense gave up 5,284 yards of total offense, including 3,752 yards through the air. Those numbers, especially coming on the heels of two consecutive losses to the end the season, are considered subpar by some for the famed Silver Bullets defense.
“I mean, we have to take it to another level just coming back from last season,” Doran Grant said of the team’s defensive outlook this fall. “That’s just something we have to do.”
Doran Grant said the team will head into the new season with a chip on its shoulder, but has to ignore any criticism coming from the outside to find the desired success.
Playing great defense is certainly still in the plans for OSU, as are winning the turnover battle, scoring in the red zone and winning the kicking game.
Things will certainly be different for OSU in a full season without Miller, but the Buckeyes don’t think that has to change their ceiling in 2014.
OSU’s schedule is set to begin Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
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