Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Ohio State Buckeyes [Print without images]

Friday, January 11, 2013
Meyer readies Ohio State for next challenge

By Brian Bennett

Urban Meyer went 12-0 in his first year at Ohio State. Now comes maybe even the harder part: Following that up with the burden of expectations.

Many are already projecting the 2013 Buckeyes as a top-5 team and a national title contender, not to mention the Big Ten favorite. Fans are hoping for another undefeated run. Meyer isn't running away from those things.

"People say, 'Would you rather be the underdog or the favorite?'" Meyer said Friday in a news conference. "We'd love to be the favorite all the time. That means we've got a good team. So, no, I don't mind it."

Urban Meyer
Urban Meyer and Ohio State will enter next season with enormous expectations after a 12-0 finish.
But the coach is also being realistic. He was at the BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame as a guest commentator and saw up close what it will take to win a national title. As for talking about getting there next season, Meyer said, "that's like saying we've got to go to the moon. We're nowhere near that conversation."

Meyer knows his second team in Columbus has much room to grow, starting on a defensive line where all four starters depart from the 2012 lineup. He's still looking for "drastic improvement" from the receivers and from his quarterbacks' throwing precision. Meyer said he planned to meet with the team Friday afternoon, and his mantra would be "truth." As in, he would be bluntly honest with the players on what they needed to work on.

"We were very strong in certain areas [in 2012] and some of them were phenomenal," he said. "But quite a few were below average. So if it's strong, enhance it, and if it's weak, fix it."

The challenge for the Buckeyes is to make those gains without the benefit of the 15 extra bowl practices in December. Meyer and his coaches can't do much with the players on the field until spring practice begins. The players have to take more of a responsibility to work on their own.

"If we want to be a very functional football team, there has to be some self-leadership among the groups," Meyer said. "Because it's on the players; the coaches can't force them to do it."

Some other notes from Meyer's media session: