There were a few new ornaments on the practice field for the Ohio State Buckeyes as they opened the 2013 spring practice session. A pair of banners were proudly on display as Urban Meyer celebrated where this Buckeyes team has come from and tried to keep them focused on where they wanted to be next January.
The first banner was set up alongside the others commemorating the school’s National Championship seasons, commemorating last season’s perfect 12-0 season. Despite the team’s inability to participate in the postseason in 2012, keeping them out of the Big Ten title game as well as the bowl season, they finished as the only team in college football to avoid a loss all season, and the coaching staff felt that was worth celebrating.
Then there’s the other banner, with the words “The Chase” written in big bold letters hanging just behind one of the end zones. The vague phrase could hold any number of meanings, many of which Meyer explained in further detail.
“It’s within the team, but we’re all chasing something. We’re 15 practices behind a lot of teams. Matter of fact, behind every team that played in a bowl game last year, so the chase is on.
“Some guys are chasing starting positions, some guys are chasing a bowl game, some guys an NFL contract… It means more, but that’s where we’re going to stop.”
Meyer stopped short of saying the two words that have been banned at practices (national championship) to keep players and coaches focused on the day to day grind that the Buckeyes will need to get through to accomplish their lofty goals.
The coaching staff will be under heavy pressure to hit the ground running this spring after missing out on the critical bowl practices that would have allowed them to develop some of the young talent on their roster. The onus is on every member of the team, player or coach, to embrace “the chase” and get after it with maximum effort.
Ohio State will have a tall task repeating their perfect season in 2012 as they have to replace six starters in their defensive front seven and will need to rely more on a passing game that was less than threatening last season. But with Braxton Miller ramping up his game for a Heisman Trophy run and the Buckeyes hungry to hoist their first Big Ten Championship trophy, the desire to reach all those unspoken goals will definitely be there.
How far they go in “the chase,” however, remains to be seen. The first step has been taken this spring, but we’ll have to wait until this fall to see how far they can go.