Urban Meyer has been an Ohio State fan since he was practically a toddler. In five days, he will lead the Buckeyes as head coach into their 2012 season. It wasn't hard to see his enthusiasm. In the first of his weekly news conferences of the season, Meyer said it'll be a challenge to "not come out of my shoes" when the band plays "Hang On Sloopy" after the third quarter.

Urban Meyer has been an Ohio State fan since he was practically a toddler.

In five days, he will lead the Buckeyes as head coach into their 2012 season. It wasn't hard to see his enthusiasm. In the first of his weekly news conferences of the season, Meyer said it'll be a challenge to "not come out of my shoes" when the band plays Hang On Sloopy after the third quarter.

But he also has a job to do, and he's refreshed after a year off the sideline as an ESPN analyst following his health-influenced departure from Florida.

He said he been able to maintain a balance in his life. He even watched his daughter play a volleyball game for Georgia Tech on Saturday night and beamed that she'd been named a captain.

He'll feel even better if the Buckeyes get off to a good start to the season Saturday against Miami University.

"To say that I'm very excited for Saturday would be a very shallow statement because I think everybody knows that," Meyer said. "I'm honored to be here, honored to be the coach of the Ohio State University football team and to come back home and coach in the great state of Ohio."

Meyer is familiar with the RedHawks from his two years of coaching Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference a decade ago. He respects Miami's tradition and its passing game, featuring quarterback Zac Dysert.

But Meyer is also counting on his team to play with a chip on its shoulder befitting a team that lost seven games for the first time since the 19th century.

A couple of position battles have been resolved, at least temporarily. Senior Reid Fragel, a converted tight end, is the starter over freshman Taylor Decker at right tackle. Senior Travis Howard gained the edge on sophomore Doran Grant at the cornerback spot opposite Bradley Roby.

"Travis looks like what a cornerback should look like," co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said. "We want to see the consistency throughout the season. Through the last two or three weeks of camp, he's been as good a corner as I've been around."

Defensive end Nathan Williams, attempting to come back from microfracture knee surgery, is not listed on the depth chart. But Meyer said he hopes Williams will be able to see limited action against Miami, adding that today's practice could be critical in determining whether that's realistic.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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