It was three quarters to remember for Meyer
COLUMBUS – It might not have gone just the way Urban Meyer had envisioned it.
But, he’s been around long enough in the coaching business to know that anytime a team posts a 56-10 victory in its home opener, you take it.
Such was the case for Ohio State as it lifted the lid on yet another season of Buckeyes’ football with a three-quarter demolition of Miami of Ohio in front of 105,000-plus at Ohio Stadium.
Maybe just as importantly as getting the season-opening victory, it was the fans’ first glimpse of a Meyer-led Buckeyes’ squad, which is trying to rebound from a 6-7 campaign.
And for the first 15 minutes, there weren’t many happy people, including players, coaches or fans as the RedHawks held a 3-0 lead, which could have, and probably should have, been much, much more, but Miami was victimized by several dropped passes, including two sure touchdowns.
“The first quarter was very poor football on our end,” Meyer said. “I don’t want to say I was embarassed with the way we were playing. We worked so hard and we didn’t play very well, in all phases.”
Though from the press box, it appeared as if Meyer was growing more and more frustrated as the offense struggled to get into any sort of rhythm, the owner of two BCS National Championships, insisted otherwise.
Meyer said he remained calm and was able to do so because sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller stayed that way, too.
“Quarterback is a unique position because he’s got to manage so much,” Meyer said. “He’s got to manage basically the entire offense. He’s got to stay positive and he has to be a leader.”
The Buckeyes’ offense got things cranked up in the second quarter, scoring 21 points to take a commanding lead into the lockerroom.
The big play, which ignited the fans and Buckeyes, was a miraculous one-handed catch by former Massillon standout Devin Smith on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
It was big for the receiving group as a whole because during the spring and most of the offseason, the corp was much maligned after last season’s offensive ineptness.
“I don’t know if Devin had been saving that, but I’ve not seen him do that,” Meyer stressed. “Now that I know he can … . That was a wild moment that ignited the stadium, which had gotten quiet.”
With the game well in hand, Meyer was finally able to take a step back and soak up what he’d been away from for 25 years and that was the atmosphere of The ‘Shoe.
Prior to the start of the fourth quarter, the Ohio State Marching Band carried out one its time-honored traditions, playing “Hang on Sloopy.”
While the crowd was doing its part, spelling out O-H-I-O, Meyer stood motionless on the sidelines, basically ignoring his team and coaching responsibilities.
“I just stared at that for a while,” Meyer said. “I told a couple of people that had never seen it before to make sure they check that out.”
It was obvious to tell before he led the Buckeyes out of the tunnel for the first time in his career, that Meyer was just soaking in the entire day.
“It was a great day,” Meyer confessed.
A great day that Meyer often found himself wondering if it would ever arrive.
“I’ve really enjoyed being the Ohio State coach for about seven months now,” Meyer said. “I’m with a bunch of guys I care about. I love our players.”
Meyer was quizzed in his post-game press conference about whether or not he had any nervous or anxious moments that might have crept into his mind Friday evening when the team had its meal at the OSU Golf Course and then headed to the Blackwell Hotel to retire for the evening.
“Yes, yes, yes. Yes,” Meyer quickly smiled. “I slept pretty good last night because I like this team. I like these guys. When you have those things going for you, you sleep pretty good.”
With the first one now officially in the books, Meyer and the Buckeyes will really get down to business and that starts today with a film session as preparations for Central Florida’s visit begins.
- INDIAN CREEK’S Bre Berryman was on the field prior to the game as a guest of the women’s basketball program. Berryman is a sophomore for the Lady Redskins.
- FORMER OSU coaches John Cooper and Earle Bruce, who is one of Meyer’s coaching inspirations and mentors, were in the pressbox at halftime.
- HEISMAN TROPHY winner Troy Smith was also on the field, posing for pictures with fans during the pre-game festivities.
- THE INCOMPRABLE Ohio State Marching Band put on another brilliant performance at halftime, featuring music by the Beach Boys.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth