Reading the Columbus Dispatch sports section this past Saturday morning, waiting to watch the number sixteen ranked, 3-0 Ohio State Buckeyes totally demolish 37 point underdog, 0-2 University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers, I was dumbfounded when I read the comment by Coach Urban Meyer stating that there won’t be much improvement by the team throughout the season. Are you kidding me?
During the course of a normal season, a really good college team plays a twelve game regular season, then plays in its conference title game and a bowl game. I understand that team practices are regulated and limited by the N.C.A.A., but if you are a good team, how do you not get better after playing so many games and participating in four months worth of practices? Maybe it has something to do with playing far inferior teams. With the hiring of one of the premier college football coaches in America and his certified genius, offensive coordinator Tom Herman, I expected great things finally for the Buckeye offense that over the years has always seemed to play not to lose rather than playing to win. However, for the most part, this year’s team has played more like last year’s train wreck.
After moving converted tight end Jake Stoneburner back to wide receiver due to lack of quality playmakers this past spring, I expected him to have a breakout year. Yet, the only time I saw him Saturday was after the Buckeyes scored its third touchdown, when he was sitting next to quarterback Braxton Miller on the bench. The only thing this year’s offense has over the last dozen years of very conservative play is that in its hurry-up mode, this year’s team runs about twenty more lackadaisical plays per game than in the past. Then there was the blocked punt on the Buckeye’s first possession, which Alabama-Birmingham scored its only touchdown, a punt that was blocked before the kicker even kicked the ball. One game announcer stated that Ohio State had changed it punt-blocking scheme earlier in the week. After the game, UAB Coach Garrick McGee was quoted as saying, it will be the easiest punt they block all season. That comment is what is called an understatement.
If Coach Meyer is honest in his teaching abilities, and this is the best his team will play this season, I would like to adjust my pre-season prediction of this year’s team finishing the year with a 10-2 record. The manner in which they played Saturday, this team will probably be lucky to finish 6-6. Oh, by the way, this game was much closer than the 29-15 final score.
Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87