Cody Cousino / Photo editor
For the first time since 2001, spring football this year for Ohio State opened up with a new coach.
Although just in his first year as the Buckeyes coach, Urban Meyer has seemingly already laid the groundwork (and then some) for building a program in his image.
That sentiment was reflected in Saturday morning’s spring practice as several players and coaches, including sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell, were on hand to discuss the early stages of the “Urban Era.”
Much of the hype following Meyer into Columbus has surrounded his spread offense that was most dominant when he was the head coach at Florida.
Many think Meyer will use Miller in a similar way to how he used former Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to run an offense that won the 2009 National Championship.
A mobile quarterback that proved to be more valuable on the run than in the pocket last season, some feel that Miller is a perfect fit to run the offense Meyer brings to the table.
Miller said the offense takes a no-huddle approach and most of the plays are signaled in from the sidelines. It’s also something he said he feels at home with.
“I feel pretty comfortable in the pocket and how it suits my athletic ability and to make plays,” he said. “It’s exciting, it’s explosive.”
But for Miller to be a playmaker, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said it’s critical for him to be “the coach on the field that he needs to be” and learn to speak up more.
Herman said Miller’s ability to throw the ball was something that surprised him, though.
“He throws the ball better than maybe I had anticipated,” he said. “I think he’s got some definite refinement to do in terms of his lower body mechanics, I think his feet are all over the place at times.”
Guiton’s up-hill battle
Having spent most of his career as a Buckeye in the shadows, redshirt junior quarterback Kenny Guiton might be best known by some fans for the flattop haircut he sported during the 2010 Spring Game.
Playing the role of backup to former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Miller, Guiton said he needed to do some soul searching when Meyer came to OSU.
“I had to grow on Coach Meyer, because at the same time when he first got here, I guess I really wasn’t into it anymore, I got down on myself,” he said.
It even got to the point Meyer called him out a number of times in practice, Guiton said.
“I just had to catch up and do the things I knew I could do and show him that I could do it,” he said. “I had to get an upbeat to life, and I finally came through with it.”
Guiton said he feels great knowing that he was able to win Meyer’s approval.
“To know that (Meyer’s) probably not big on you and then, after a while, he’s like ‘Ok let’s get Kenny Guiton, he’s maybe somebody that can do something,'” Guiton said.
Defense “pretty much the same”
Even with all the excitement concerning OSU’s new offense, redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino said Meyer definitely has an emphasis on defense.
“When you walk into our meeting room, the first thing you see is, ‘Great defense wins championships,'” Sabino said.
And though Meyer has brought in a new staff with the exception of Fickell, and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, Sabino said the defense is “pretty much the same.”
“We changed things up a little bit, but not much. We’re still pretty much the same basic concepts,” he said. “Average fan might not even notice it.”
Fickell, who was the Buckeyes’ head coach in 2011, said every year the defense is tweaked a little bit – its strengths kept and weaknesses improved upon.
But he said the focus this year with Meyer has been on having players that go “from point A to point B” as fast as they possibly can, regardless of position.
“As long as there are 11 out there that go from point A to point B for four to six seconds, he’ll be real happy,” Fickell said.