Ohio State’s slogan for the season is “OneStrong,” but coach Urban Meyer indicated Monday perhaps a better one might be “Own It.”
After the third practice of the preseason headed into this week, when camp kicks into full gear, Meyer revealed his offseason custom of reading and observing left him with that thought.
“What's the common denominator on great teams, great organizations?” Meyer said. “And there are plenty of professional organizations that just struggle every year, and the fans and the media, they blame the coaches.”
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He said that’s a superficial blame game, since coaches on that level have long since proved their ability, and “it’s even more comical” when the players get blamed when a season goes over the cliff.
“But what's the problem? Why do some organizations have these great, great teams, and why do these great certain companies have great companies even during hard times?” Meyer said. “The term we come up with around here is they own it. It's theirs. It's their property.”
It’s the feeling he wants his veteran team, with 16 starters back and apparent cadre of talented youngsters, to experience at season’s end. It’s what set the 2014 team apart, he said this summer, rising to win the first College Football Playoff championship.
“Those are the teams that have reunions, that have players that come back years later and walk in like they own the place,” Meyer said back then.
An example is Curtis Grant, who was the starting middle linebacker on the ’14 team.
“I just noticed when Curtis Grant walks around here, he walks in this building, and he thinks he owns the thing, because he does,” Meyer said Monday. “And he should walk around like that. And with that comes responsibility. You see someone treating it not nice — it's your home. So that was a central theme. We'll continue that through training camp or part of it.”
As for what’s going on with his team up to this point, “it’s too early” to make assessments, Meyer said. The real football hasn’t even started, since the players won’t put on full pads until Thursday, headed toward the first major scrimmage of camp Saturday.
Meyer said the plethora of returning starters means the team is starting things off developmentally ahead of where it was this time a year ago, when it was the least experienced team in major college football. But the next several days are about seeing players who go hard, who rebound from mistakes.
“The player that something good does not happen and he could go right back to fundamentals and all the training he's been through, those are guys that play,” Meyer said. “That's what I look for now and all our coaches, as you start establishing depth charts, and we'll have a scrimmage this Saturday.
“Then after that you're going to start seeing depth charts get materialized a little bit, and following that one, they're done. So they have about 10 days or whatever it is to establish themselves, and that's what we're looking for.”