Buckeyes Getting Back To Basics

One thing is clear: Urban Meyer was not pleased with the way his team approached the Illinois game. With a frantic finish on tap, Meyer says things will be different this week as the team gets ready to take on Illinois.

If you're seeking insight from Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on playing fundamental football or the special teams play of his freshman running backs, simply ask him about the Buckeyes national championship outlook.

You read right. Meyer has decided to shelve his campaign for the Buckeyes' Bowl Championship Series aspirations and focus on the little things that matter inside the walls of the team facility. His decision to do so was a direct result of the Buckeyes' good-enough-but-not-quite-dominant 60-35 win at Illinois.

Before Meyer even left Illinois' Memorial Stadium, he acknowledged that he has been focusing too much time and effort on things, such as the BCS rankings, that aren't making his No. 3-ranked Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0) any better.

He wasn't quite as adamant as his offensive coordinator, Tom Herman, who said he would not "waste brain cells" worrying about the BCS rankings, but Meyer knows things can be more focused on the task at hand inside the team's facility.

"I grade myself a C last week," he said. "I was worried about too many other things. I can promise you, we're going to coach better this week."

At times, Meyer admitted, he's been locked in a figurative cubby, and prior to the win at Illinois, thoughts of national title contention and BCS rankings played on a loop in his head.

Also by his own admission, that repeating track caused Meyer to leave his team unable to produce a dominant win against the Fighting Illini that would help the Buckeyes keep up in the BCS standings. Illinois crept back into the game as Meyer took his foot off the gas pedal despite Ohio State owning 28-point leads twice in the game, and the Buckeyes were outscored 35-19 by the hosts during one stretch.

Meyer called the BCS a "flawed system" during his Monday press conference, but his days of campaigning against the inherent problems with the BCS system appear to be over. It's already to the point where Meyer is responding to questions about Ohio State's national title chances by basically disregarding them and addressing unrelated subjects.

"Ezekiel (Elliott) on our punt team, I have to teach him how to tackle," Meyer said with a laugh when asked about the national title picture. "We're going to work hard on that in practice."

Even with Meyer, the de facto CEO of Ohio State football, serving as the program's BCS Campaigner-in-Chief (a role he performed with gusto as well at Florida in 2006), he still made more than enough time for improving the overall quality of his team, assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said.

"I don't think there's ever been a time when we haven't thought about getting better every day," Withers said. "I think that's been in our room, and in the offensive room also. Getting better every day is what you do. As a coach, as a player, you try to coach better every day and you try to hopefully make your players better.

"We go to work every day and we've got one objective: Try to be better at the end of the day than we were at the beginning. Sometimes as position coaches and coordinators, you get narrowed in on making sure you're doing well for that week. As you guys know, anybody can beat anybody if you're not prepared. You just focus on one game at a time. It's cliché, I know, but it's true."

Now, Meyer appears to have trimmed the BCS fat out of his approach. He's probably always been all-in when it comes to the happenings inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. He'll just be leaving the media speculation and rankings chatter at the door when he walks in.

Any query put to Meyer about the national championship or the BCS, or even his players' draft prospects, reveals Meyer's new mind-set.

"Any other questions about Warren Ball's (kick) coverage?" Meyer said with a laugh.


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