By Bruce Hooley | ESPNCleveland.com
Photo/AP via ESPN
The emotions Urban Meyer displayed as the clock expired on Ohio State's 34-17 win over Navy seemed a bit out of place for a guy who, despite his pink notebook paper promise to his family to relax this time around, remains wrapped tighter than than an overhead garage door spring.
Meyer had ample reason to celebrate the victory in the season-opener at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, for it gave him everything a coach needs to reach a team that may be too enamored with its individual five-star ratings and adoring fan base than is merited quite yet.
Witness the almost-immediate dismissal of Braxton Miller's season-ending shoulder injury as anything more than a minor blip on the Buckeyes' path to a Big Ten championship and berth in the first four-team playoff for college football's national title.
After the initial shock, the dominant narrative among Buckeye Nation turned toward redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett becoming another Jameis Winston/Johnny Manziel success story that takes the sport by storm than that Miller would be missed at all.
Similarly, there seemed no overriding concern that tailback Carlos Hyde's 1,500 rushing yards or the impact of four departed starters on the offensive line would be felt at all.
Now, Meyer has four quarters of game tape -- filled with just enough teachable moments -- to get his players' attention before Virginia Tech arrives for an 8 p.m. Saturday game at Ohio Stadium.
Meyer likened Barrett to Chris Leak, the quarterback Meyer won his first of two national titles with at Florida -- at OSU's expense -- in 2006, during a pre-game, on-field interview. Barrett appears a better runner than Leak, but offers no where close to the electricity Miller routinely provided either when his number came up or when he scrambled.
Meyer knows his new quarterback well, for Barrett played just like the distributor the OSU coach labeled him in the weeks leading up to Game One.
Barrett will win plenty of games if his 12-of-15, 226-yard, two-touchdown performance becomes the norm. Of course, Meyer will stress the one interception Barrett threw in the first half that cost the Buckeyes points as proof that there is more for his freshman to accomplish.
"That's a good first game," Meyer said, rating Barrett's debut. "A game like next week, he's going to face some really good personnel. We're going to have to throw a little bit more."
Linebacker Darren Lee's 61-yard fumble return for a touchdown on the first series of the second half turned away a promising Navy drive and erased the Midshipmen's 7-6 halftime lead.
Undaunted, Navy drove 84 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in just four plays, with Ryan Williams-Jenkins' 67-yard run jump-starting that possession.
OSU appeared in trouble when it punted on the next series and Navy moved to the Buckeyes' 32-yard line. But the Ohio State defense then forced losses of 2 and 11 yards on the next two snaps, forced a punt and then Barrett found Devin Smith for an 80-yard touchdown and permanent control.
"He was so open, I just didn't want to overthrow it," Barrett said.
Navy reduced the resultant 20-13 deficit with a 32-yard field goal inside the 14-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but Ohio State clinched the victory with a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, with Barrett's 19-yard pass to Evan Spencer the only pass play.
Barrett led OSU with 50 yards on nine carries. The Buckeyes wound up with a 420-390 edge in total offense, even though Navy rushed for 370 yards. The Midshipmen completed only two of four pass attempts.
"I wasn't crazy nervous," Barrett said. "I was just anxious and ready to go."
OSU trailed, 7-6, at halftime and seemed unwilling to trust Barrett after his interception aborted a scoring drive.
"When you have so many new players, there are going to be a certain amount of mistakes," Meyer said. "We wanted to open it up more in the first half, but we didn't because we were having some issues on the offensive line."
Ohio State solved those in the second half, and its defense made the requisite stops to turn a potentially-sticky outcome into a comfortable victory.
Curtis Samuel (7-45), Ezekiel Elliott (12-44-1) and Dontre Wilson (6-43) delivered glimpses of the play-making promise their recruiting ratings suggest.
Meyer turned toward his sideline and fist-pumped in celebration as the final seconds ticked away, relieved to have the victory and his team's No. 5 ranking intact. OSU's late burst covered the 14 1/2-point spread, so the outcome can't be used against the Buckeyes down the road in comparative analysis by the Playoff Selection Committee.
One paper, once the details of the afternoon fade, it will look like Ohio State handled Navy the way it should. And yet, when he analyzes it this week behind closed doors, Meyer can show his team everything it did wrong in an effort to make future Saturdays much more relaxing from kickoff to final gun.
|Bruce Hooley can be heard 5-7 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”|
Email Bruce firstname.lastname@example.org
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By Bruce Hooley | ESPNCleveland.com
Photo/Getty via ESPN
PREVIEW: Ohio State vs. Navy
Kickoff: 12 noon at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
Radio/TV: ESPN 850 WKNR, 850 AM/CBS Sports Network
Coaches: Ken Niumatalolo is 49-30 entering his seventh season at the U.S. Naval Academy; Urban Meyer is 24-2 entering his third season at Ohio State and 128-25 in a 12-year career.
Last meeting: Navy stretched Ohio State to the limit in the 2009 season-opener in Ohio Stadium. The Midshipmen scored late and had a two-point conversion to forge a tie, but linebacker Brian Rolle's interception and return for two points gave OSU a 31-27 victory.
Navy: The Midshipmen rely on a triple-option offense led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who last season set an NCAA record by rushing for 31 touchdowns. Reynolds threw for only eight scores a year ago, but accounted for more than 2,400 yards rushing and passing combined. He has started since the sixth game of his freshman season, when he came off the bench to lead a touchdown drive and tying two-point conversion, then led Navy to a win over Air Force in overtime...Navy finished second nationally in rushing last season with 325.4 yards per-game...The Midshipmen's defense finished next-to-last in quarterback sacks and last in negative-yardage tackles last season, but went 9-4 and won the Armed Forces Bowl.
Ohio State: A season-ending injury to two-time Big Ten MVP Braxton Miller thrusts redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett into the starting job at quarterback, making Barrett the first freshman QB since Art Schlichter in 1978 to start an OSU opens. Barrett wears jersey No. 16, the same worn by Craig Krenzel in the Buckeyes' 2002 national championship season. That may be fitting if Barrett lives up to Meyer's description of him as a facilitator of the OSU offense...New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash will be watched closely to see if his scheme eliminates the pass defense woes Ohio State experienced last season...Ezekiel Elliott will start at tailback, where Carlos Hyde's departure for the NFL leaves the Buckeyes looking to replace his 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns...Hyde and Miller together accounted for 51 combined TDs...Ohio State's 24-game, regular-season winning streak is the longest in the nation.
By ESPN Cleveland Staff | ESPNCleveland.com
CLEVELAND -- Hammer has been challenged and he has accepted. ESPN Cleveland's Aaron Goldhammer is the lastest to help raise awareness for ALS by accepting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and he's challenging some of The Really Big Show's biggest fans.
By Greg Brinda | ESPNCleveland.com
It's getting old and hopefully it's going to stop.
It started in the early 90s and nothing has changed in 20 plus years.
I'm talking about Browns quarterback battles and controversies.
The simple reason this is still going on is that the team hasn't found a bonafide number one signal caller since Bernie Kosar. And here we are in 2014 and it starts all over again with Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.
Seriously one of these guys has to be the man.
Honestly I don't really care who ultimately wins the battle. I don't have a favorite.
There are however certain realities. Hoyer doesn't have a lot of game experience but he has some and was successful. He also learned from one of the greatest ever Tom Brady.
Manziel on the other hand is the media darling. He single handedly has brought more attention to the team than anyone in recent memory.
Manziel has also shown in college and limited NFL practice time that he might have what it takes to be a star in the league. Preseason will dictate just how much he has and how far he has to go to make it in the NFL.
For now the debate rolls on and on and on. Sides are being taken. The arguments get old and boring. Assumptions are being made without any real evidence. The fans aren't united and won't be until there's a conclusive winner.
I long for the days when everyone was on board with what they had.
Back in 1988 the Browns after two AFC Championship appearances ran into the injury bug. Bernie Kosar, Gary Danielson, and Mike Pagel all got hurt. Bernie was the man but fans were on board with the other two.
When all of them went down the Browns ventured to Florida and plucked Don Strock off a golf course. He came in and helped the team go 500 and make the post season as a Wild Card. That year Browns fans actually liked four quarterbacks.
Since then fans have barely liked one.
Vinny-Bernie, Couch-Holcomb, Brady-DA, Weeden-anybody and now it's Hoyer-Manziel.
This needs to stop. And hopefully this will be the year the team finds its man.
If not it will be back to same old arguments that we have seen and heard for nearly a quarter of a century.
And the results will be another bad season, something we have become far too accustomed to
By ESPN Cleveland Staff | ESPNCleveland.com
CLEVELAND (August 8, 2014): ESPN Cleveland’s ESPN 850 WKNR announces a new weekday lineup to kick off the 2014 football season. In addition to national ESPN programming, ESPN 850 WKNR will feature local shows throughout the day.
Monday – Friday Lineup on ESPN 850 WKNR:
6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Mike & Mike in the Morning
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo and Jerod Cherry
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Cleveland Browns Daily
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Aaron Goldhammer and Emmett Golden
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Bruce Hooley
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. ESPN Cleveland Tonight with Mark “Munch” Bishop
Evenings on ESPN 850 WKNR will feature play-by-play and specialty programming from the Cleveland Browns, the Ohio State Buckeyes, ESPN Radio and more. In addition, longtime ESPN 850 WKNR broadcaster Greg Brinda will host regular local post-game shows year-round.
During the football season, ESPN Cleveland will broadcast a local three-hour post-game show following all Browns games called The Really Big Post Game Show with Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer.
Fans may listen to ESPN 850 WKNR on-air, online at ESPNCleveland.com or with the free ESPN Radio mobile app.
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By ESPN Clevealnd Staff | ESPNCleveland.com
I really do like NFL training camp. I just can't wait until every fan analyzes every throw that Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel make and then call us with a scouting report and who should start.
I really think this is one of the more talented Browns teams since coming back in 1999.
I also love the fact that an 8-8 season for most Browns fans will be like winning the Super Bowl
Josh Gordon is going to be most likely suspended for a year. And yes, there are a lot fans ready to welcome him back at some point. So what makes anyone think this guy will ever come back and stay clean and out of trouble?
I like Mike Pettine and I believe he will succeed. Yet there are some who think he will last just a couple of seasons. If that happens this franchise really is doomed.
May the best man win the starting quarterback spot. I do think it will be Hoyer. Why some of you are rooting for one over the other boggles the mind. What don’t you get about the best one winning the job and supporting that?
I think Johnny has a lot to learn and is about to get a reality check. Why do some of you think he's already the second coming?
LeBron is back and the Cavs are legitimate again. It was the only way this franchise had any chance to win anything. Now go and win something! No excuses.
I think Kevin Love is a real good player. With him it makes the team even better. Speaking of the second coming, I got news for you. He is not. He had better not get hurt and he had better learn to play some defense.
No one. I mean no one has said a bad thing about new Cavs coach David Blatt. But I know this. He has never coached in this country, let alone the NBA. I want to see him coach when the bullets start to fly.
The Cavs sold out their season tickets. LeBron’s jersey sold out at the NBA store. Johnny's jersey is the number one seller. Clevelanders do have money and do spend it. So Tribe fans, stop whining when you have to pay 20 or 30 bucks for a ticket. You really sound dumb.
Speaking of the Tribe, as frustrating and inconsistent as they are, they are in the hunt for a playoff spot.
I'll say it here first. The Indians will make the post season again. Don't ask me how. They just will...I think.