By Kenny Roda
Coaching does matter! Urban Meyer took a (6-7) team in his first year at Ohio State with a new coaching staff and a new offense and went (12-0). I didn’t think it was possible. I figured they’d stub their toe once or twice and also lose one on the road. I had them at (9-3), but “Honest Urb” led them to only the sixth undefeated/untied season in 124 years of Ohio State football. I can’t wait until he gets his recruits in there over four years with an offensive system that’s already in place. The future is so bright in Columbus, everybody better buy some shades!
Braxton Miller made progress in his first year under Meyer, but hasn’t come close to reaching his potential. If he works on the basic fundamentals of throwing the football and continues to study as much film as he did this year, the sky is the limit for the athletically gifted Miller. He’ll be a pre-season Heisman favorite next year.
Carlos Hyde was the emerging offensive star that Urban Meyer was looking for. With the knee injury to Jordan Hall, Hyde stepped in and took some of the offensive load off the shoulders of Miller. He too will only get better with a solid off-season and should be a 1,000-yard rusher next year for the Buckeyes.
One of the biggest reasons the Buckeyes were such a high scoring offense in 2012 was due to the outstanding development of the offensive line. Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Reid Fragel provided consistency game in and game out for Ohio State. With only Fragel leaving due to graduation, the offensive line should be one of the strengths of the team heading into next season.
Philly Brown and Devin Smith each had their moments at wide receiver for OSU. Both will return next year and should improve on their numbers along with a number of other underclassmen.
The Ohio State defense was not good early on. In fact, they were one of the worst tackling teams in the country through about the first seven games. Then sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier emerged as the playmaker on defense. Converted fullback Zach Boren became the stabilizing force at linebacker and Bradley Roby anchored the secondary all while John Simon provided the leadership necessary to hold a growing unit together. In the end it was Ohio State’s defense that was key in wins at Wisconsin and at home to close out the perfect season against archrival Michigan.
While the Buckeyes will lose at least six starters on defense, they have some key players coming back and others who gained valuable playing experience this season. The defensive line will be the strength even if Johnathan Hankins decides to leave early for the NFL draft. Linebacker will be the weakest part of next year’s defense and the secondary would benefit if Roby elected to stay one more year instead of turning pro.
Despite not being eligible to play in the Big Ten Championship game or for the BCS National Championship, the 2012 team will be remembered not just for its perfect record, but as a group of guys who overcame adversity and banded together as brothers to help lay the ground work for rebuilding one of college football’s most historic programs back into a national title contender in a shorter period of time than most thought possible - like as early as next year! In fact, don’t be surprised when Ohio State is riding a 23 game winning streak going into their final regular season game on November 30, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That would mean a win over the Wolverines would put them in their first ever Big Ten Championship game, and another win there could have them playing for the National Championship in Urban Meyer’s second season in Columbus. In case you were wondering, it was in Meyer’s second season at Florida that he won the first of two National Titles for the Gators. What do they often say about history repeating itself? We can only hope! O – H – I – O!
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