COLUMBUS — When his first Ohio State football team takes the field in Ohio Stadium on Saturday, Urban Meyer is looking for one trait more than any other.
“I want an angry football team,” he said during his weekly press conference Monday. “I love coaching angry teams. There’s nothing like it.”
Meyer has said repeatedly that he does not want to focus on the negativity of last season, when Ohio State’s seven losses were the most for the program since 1897. But he has used that as motivation to get the Buckeyes turned around.
“I don’t want to talk about the end of the season,” he said. “However, I’ll utilize any form of motivation I can to get guys angry.”
The new coach, who won a pair of national titles in his last coaching job at the University of Florida, clearly wants his players to have a chip on their shoulders.
“There’s nothing like a group of kids that really want to prove someone wrong or prove something to someone, he said. “That’s every coach’s dream as opposed to the fat cat that sits back and, ‘hey, we’re good and don’t worry about it.’”
Meyer should not have any shortage of motivational material. In addition to their dismal season on the field last fall, the players had to deal with a boatload of negative publicity in the wake of the tattoo scandal that rocked the program. Because of that, the team will not be able to play in a bowl game or the conference championship this season.
The Ohio State boss admitted Monday that he likes to remind his team of some of the things that were said about them during the messy scandal.
“If I want to make them angry, then I can fire some shots at them,” he said. “I mean, my job is to motivate 100 18-year-olds. If I see a window opening to go (tick) someone off to get them to go a little harder today, I’ve been known to do that a little bit.”
Meyer said his players are “chomping at the bit” for Saturday’s opener, and the handful of players made available to the media Monday confirmed that.
“All of us want to go out and walk on that field making sure there’s no doubt that we are going to put on the best performance that we can,” said center Corey Linsley.
The offensive players, in particular, are looking forward to unveiling their new attack.
“It is going to be exciting,” said junior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown. “It is going to be fast. You don’t want to leave your seat when the offense is on the field.”
While the fans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Meyer’s spread offense, he revealed Monday that he is equally excited to make his first appearance as head coach in the Horseshoe.
“I carry a little folder with me so that I keep my face in the game .... I have to do that because I’ll be coming out of my shoes a little bit, because I was four-years-old, or maybe I was three-and-a-half, when I first saw the scarlet and gray play,” said Meyer, an Ashtabula native and a former OSU assistant coach under Earle Bruce. “It’s going to be an emotional time. Very much so.”
Meyer said Monday that senior Reid Fragel has won the battle for the starting spot at right tackle. Fragel, a converted tight end, beat out true freshman Taylor Decker of Vandalia-Butler ... Travis Howard, who was very inconsistent at the cornerback position opposite Bradley Roby last fall, will start Saturday. Howard has been pushed hard by sophomore Doran Grant, but Meyer said Howard is one of the most improved players on the defense ... With Miami being a pass-happy spread offensive team, the Buckeyes expect to be in their nickel defense a lot Saturday. The two linebackers that will be on the field in the nickel look will be Etienne Sabino and Ryan Shazier. Middle linebacker Curtis Grant will come out when the nickel defense is being used.