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Motivation key for OSU

September 20, 2013
dsp By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

Urban Meyer is known as one of the top motivators in the game of college football.

Keep in mind, the second-year Ohio State head coach took a team that was coming off a 6-7 season with basically nothing more than pride to play for in 2012 and turned it into a 12-0 combine.

Well, the 'Chase' has continued into 2013 and the Buckeyes have answered the bell each and every week thus far once again. However, this week's task will be one of the toughest and that has nothing to do with the opponent on the field, which is FCS member Florida A&M.

The Buckeyes will have to find a way to take care of their business, get their work done and get out of the game healthy as Big Ten play opens next week with Wisconsin coming to Columbus.

Before any attention can be paid to the Badgers, Meyer and the Buckeyes will face a 1-2 Rattlers' squad that is coming to Ohio Stadium as more than a 50-point underdog.

"It makes a difference," Meyer said when asked about playing FCS opponents. "I could give you some coach-speak up here, but it makes a difference."

A handful of Buckeyes have been open to the fact that they'd much rather be playing a more marquee opponent this week, but realize they have nothing to do with the schedule nor can they change it.

So, that's where Meyer and his staff's motivational abilities must come into play and a tough week of work leading up to the game has ensued.

"We are going to coach them up really hard this week," Meyer said on Monday. "There are some very good athletes we're going to face, but these players are smarter than the coaches, so we need to do a very good job of coaching this week and not look past a team. There's going to be one (FCS over a FBS) every year, maybe two every year, and it can't be one this week."

Meyer believes the competitive nature that's been built in the program since his arrival will help ease any thought of looking past the Rattlers.

"I've coached in a few games where I was a 21-point underdog and those aren't real fun, either," Meyer said. "I think there's a good culture in this program of earning playing time, earning touches, earning catches, earning anything. You have to perform well in practice and that's all I care about. I don't want to say they're faceless opponents, because they're not."

The Buckeyes didn't get back to Columbus until the wee hours of Sunday morning after taking care of California before a partisan OSU crowd in Berkeley by a 52-34 score.

"That was a tough trip," Meyer confessed. "It was awful coming home, but it was much easier to make that trip home after a (win)."

With the conference season just around the corner, the Buckeyes continue to work their way toward full strength. Quarterback Braxton Miller didn't even dress last week, but has participated in practice this week and Meyer expects him to play a role of some sort.

Kenny Guiton has developed into one of the best stories in the nation. He was beseiged with honors after throwing for four touchdowns last week against the Golden Bears.

"Kenny Guiton has earned some time," Meyer said. "If he's one of the best 11, you have an obligation to get him on the field a little bit. And I haven't said he's one of the best 11 yet, but that's something we're in the process, as coaches, of identifying that."

Along with the questions about who will play at the quarterback spot, Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman are also sorting out carries in the backfield. Carlos Hyde returns to the lineup this week after sitting out the first three games because of a suspension.

"The good thing is there are choices now," Meyer said.

Senior Jordan Hall is one of the top rushers in the Big Ten, averaging 134 yards a game. He's scored six touchdowns. Throw in freshman speedster Dontre Wilson and the backfield is in good hands.

The wide receiving corps is developing depth at a rapid rate. Devin Smith had a huge game at Cal, Philly Brown is a solid option and despite making nary a catch last week, Meyer had high praise for the job done by Evan Spencer.

A game against the Rattlers could be just the doctor ordered for the fact that many players can get involved in the action and the wealth can be spread around early and often.

On the defensive side, the Buckeyes are still battling a handul of injuries. Adolphus Washington isn't expected to play this week as he battles back from a groin injury. However, true frosh Joey Bossa has filled in admirably and earned the Buckeyes' defensive player of the game award last week.

Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant are playing at a high level at linebacker. Noah Spence continues to settle into his role as the Buckeyes "Viper" or defensive end and the tackles duo of Michael Bennett and Joel Hale have also played well.

Bradley Roby returned to the starting lineup after playing as a reserve against San Diego State. C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant and Doran Grant also held their own against the Golden Bears' pass-happy offense last week.

Florida A&M, which features Linsly School graduate Akil Blount on the defensive side of the ball, is led by quarterback Damien Fleming, who has thrown for 383 yards and two touchowns. His favorite target has been Lenworth Lennon, who has 14 receptions for 229 yards and a score.

 
 

 

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