Thursday, November 21, 2013
Planning for success: Ohio State
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The pile of distractions gets bigger every week, and nobody is completely immune to the mountain that has been built up at Ohio State.
Not even Urban Meyer.
Urban Meyer is trying to limit the outside noise and focus on the Buckeyes.
There's a winning streak that is on the brink of becoming the longest in school history. The division championship is nearly clinched, which would ensure a spot in the Big Ten title game. The nearly incessant conversation about the BCS standings is only getting louder as No. 3 Ohio State's lead ahead of a team behind it shrinks and the time to catch the two teams above it starts to dwindle. Injuries are adding to the degree of difficulty, individual awards and the NFL draft are becoming a hotter topic and then there's Senior Day adding to the load at the moment for the Buckeyes, and Meyer was quick to admit all of that might have gotten the better of him last week as he tried to prepare for a successful trip to Illinois.
But after a performance that perhaps wasn't the finest of the year for the Buckeyes even though they rolled to a 60-35 blowout down the stretch, Meyer has another reminder of how important it is to block out as much as possible and focus on the task at hand. And that doesn't just apply to the players as Ohio State prepares for a visit from Indiana on Saturday at the Horseshoe.
"My job is to coach these players, not worry about anyone else," Meyer said. "I grade myself a 'C' last week. I was worried about too many other things.
"I can promise you, we're going to coach better this week."
The Buckeyes still celebrated a victory with a meal together on Sunday night like they always do, and Meyer has continued to at least briefly address where his team stands in the conference and national title pictures rather than ignore it entirely. But he made it clear beginning on Monday that everybody in the program needed to narrow their focus again heading into the final two weeks of the regular season and a likely appearance in the Big Ten title game, because they can ill afford one slip up if their yearlong emphasis on "The Chase" for a championship is going to become a reality.
The trick is remembering how critical each practice and each game is to reaching that goal -- and not spending too much time thinking about it in the process.
"It really has no bearing on how we prepare, how we play," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "And to waste brain cells, as I call it, thinking about it, worrying about it, those would be brain cells that I can use better to help the offense or help [quarterback] Braxton [Miller], be a better husband or better father, whatever the case may be.
"It's out of our control. So we can just go win games, play as well as we can and keep getting better every week."
That can be a challenge for more than just the players, and starting with Meyer, it was issued all the way from the top of the mountain on down.