Buckeyes Continuing On The Chase

The large banner at the east end of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center's indoor field cannot be missed. "The Chase" is something the Ohio State coaching staff has incorporated into the Buckeyes' offseason work, a slogan that has both a practical and a motivational purpose.

As everyone knows, the first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. (It's also the second rule, with a little more emphasis, if you'll remember correctly.)

When it comes to the Ohio State football team, "The Chase" is kind of like Fight Club.

"It's within the team," head coach Urban Meyer said when asked about it on the first day of spring practice.

"I'm not going to reveal that," offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said when asked what the term means to him. "I'm going to keep that to myself."

In other words, the term has a lot of definitions, many of which are personal to each member of the Buckeyes' 2013 squad.

"Some guys are chasing a starting position," Meyer said. "Some guys are chasing a bowl game. Some guys are chasing NFL contracts."

But there's no hiding the fact that it's an important theme as the Buckeyes keep working to duplicate or even surpass the success they had in 2012 when they posted the sixth undefeated, untied record in school history.

The problem is that was as much as the Buckeyes could do. Banned from postseason play, Ohio State was unable to put its unblemished mark on the line in either the Big Ten or national championship game, and along with that bowl ban came the news the Buckeyes were unable to take part in the practices that bowl teams can take advantage of.

"We're 15 practices behind a lot of teams – as a matter of fact, every team that played in a bowl game last year," Meyer said. "So The Chase is on."

To that end, Meyer commissioned a large banner to hang from the permanent video stand at the east end of the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The scarlet banner with the Ohio State logo in the background reads "THE CHASE" in large white letters.

Underneath the banner, behind one end zone, is a bevy of workout equipment that team members were asked to use during the offseason in order to get better on their own. Each position group has a posted workout regimen that players complete on their own time, with around five to seven drills listed for each spot.

The goal is to make up the practice time – which Meyer has repeatedly talked about as a concern – by having the players take part in drills when coaches can't be with them.

"We're out here just as linebackers and we're hitting bags, we're watching film, we're even going over special teams stuff on our own just from what we remember last year doing drills," sophomore linebacker Joshua Perry said. "You see what we have in the facility. We have a lot of stuff out here. We haven't made (the practices) up, obviously, but it's a lot easier to have a facility like this."

Meyer would likely be happy to hear that the players are taking advantage of what the coaches have provided – and that complacency hasn't kicked in after the 12-0 campaign.

"We've designed a whole area down there," Meyer said. "That is their football specific area. If you notice, there's all kinds of equipment down there. We can't go in there at times, but they can go in there on their own. You'll see sleds in there, you'll see a lot of other equipment in there. Whatever they are chasing, they can accomplish it down there."

"The great thing about it, I think we have the best facilities in college football. We have a weight room, everybody trains and works, you walk five yards and you're out there in the Chase area. That is position-specific football work, so that is what that means."

That's not all, though, when it comes to The Chase.

"It means more, but that's where we're going to stop," Meyer said.

There's an exclusivity to the message, something the coaching staff and the players are keeping on the inside, partly because The Chase means different things to different people. The overall theme – get better every day by pursuing and catching your goals – is the same, though, and the motivation is real.

"When Coach Meyer talks about The Chase and he tells us that we're all chasing something, it gets you going," Mewhort said. "It makes you evaluate where you are and where you're going to be. If you have to change, you have to change. To get everybody moving toward that goal, that's all part of The Chase."

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