Yesterday we began our series of looks into the first-year coaches that populated the college football landscape with a look at the magician that was Jim L. Mora at UCLA, today it's Urban Meyer's turn in our CBR hot seat.
Was there a more intensely scrutinized or anticipated first-year from a head coach than that of Urban Meyer at Ohio State? All the guy had done was bring Utah to prominence as a football school, and then take Florida back to it's glory days of winning and playing for national championships.
However, some worried about the fact that in year one Urb's and Co. weren't going to the postseason and how that might affect their prospects to be a winning football team. Nevermind that he was taking over an OSU squad that was below .500 the previous year.
Well, we all know what happened this past season and arguably this team could be the least talked about 12-0 team in college football history. But, there's also a reason for that – not everything was smooth sailing along the way.
So, what went right? What could've made this team better? Or could this team have been any better? Let's take a look at those ideas and more.
What Went Right: Um… Just about everything went right for this team, I mean they went 12-0 for crying out loud. Well, at least offensively just about everything went right. Braxton Miller was a vastly improved QB in 2012 and that helped to propel this team to quite a few wins in games where he had to single-handily put this team on his back and will to win.
He had some help along the way, despite leading the team in both passing and rushing. That help mainly came from RB Carlos Hyde and his 970 yards rushing and team best 16 touchdowns.
Meyer also did a good job of knowing his personnel and making sure they were in a position to win – mainly knowing that Braxton Miller was a winner and allowing him to be free enough to lead this team to success. It worked as they won games they arguably shouldn't have won.
In fact, there were 9 games (UCF, Cal, UAB, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan) where you could make a legit case they shouldn't have won, yet they did. I don't know about you, but to me that speaks of great coaching and great players. Once or twice, o.k., you can say a team got lucky, but winning 9 games in which you could've easily have lost isn't just a trend – there's something going on internally on the team and that speaks to the teaching of the coaching staff more than anything else.
What Went Wrong: If there was something that went "wrong" with this team it was the defense and at times it feels like nit-picking, but one you break apart the numbers things weren't very good in the secondary at all and that's what kept them from blowing teams out in 2012 on a weekly basis.
They gave up 243.5 yards a game passing, ranking 8th in the Big Ten, and were just middle of the road in scoring defense (22.3ppg for 6th in B1G) and total defense (359.6yds/game). That's how they had to escape in those nine games – because the defense couldn't always hold up it's end of the bargain. Hell, Indiana almost beat them – that should tell you all things weren't hunky dory.
Offensively, you have to worry about the lack of the Percy Harvin type player, because that's what really makes Meyer's offenses tick.
However, that's just picking at things and ultimately this was a pretty good team – one that arguably would've gotten destroyed by the likes of Alabama or any other high level team they could've faced in the post-season.
Where Do Things Go from Here: National Championships baby!! What else is there to accomplish after a 12-0 season and a "Big Ten Championship" (if you're a delusional Buckeyes fan who thinks things like postseason bans don't matter), right? Realistically that is always the goal of any team at Ohio State and any team coached by Urban Meyer.
He's certainly doing it up big on the recruiting trail, with a Top 5 ranked class once again this season. It's needed across the defensive line big time and in the secondary if this team is to repeat it's feat of last season.
That said, with Braxton Miller in the fold anything is possible, however expecting another undefeated season on the heels of one that took all the magic, all the muster, and all the cojones they had to pull off – it's tough to say that will happen again this year.
Clearly Meyer is bringing in the talent in droves and in the next few years he'll be competing for national championships – it's just a matter of if that talent can be effective right off the bat cause they'll need to be to be on that level this season.
Urban Meyer's First-Year Coaching Grade: A
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