Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers
For most people I associate with, I am the only Ohio State fan that they know. So before big games, most people reach out to me to talk about the matchup or get my opinion. And yesterday, before the season opener for the Buckeyes, I threw out an idea that almost everyone I talked to thought was insane.
My premise was that Ohio State was better off opening up on the road this year than at home. Sure, Virginia Tech has an exciting entrance. Some may even call it intimidating, but in the end you’d better be used to playing in front of 65,000-plus screaming fans if you plan on playing in a playoff game anyway.
But what it comes down to in my mind, is pressure. There’s something in an athlete’s mind that makes him more comfortable playing at home, whether it’s no commuting, sleeping in your own bed the night before or having your home locker room. But when you’re the defending national champions and the unanimous number one team in the country for the first time in history, that’s pressure that even your own locker room can’t get rid of. And then pile on the fact that the whole country is waiting with bated breath to find out which quarterback will be starting AND it’s against the only team that beat you last season. That’s pressure. Being able to get away from campus, away from friends and family in your ear, away from a certain degree of pressure – well that’s beneficial in my mind.
And from the moment the Buckeyes took the field, it was as if pressure and expectations ceased to exist. Dominant defense, brilliant passes and catches, an 80-yard touchdown run on Ezekiel Elliott’s first carry. Things were too easy. And simply because Virginia Tech is a solid football team, the Hokies rallied back.
There’s nothing to lie about. I got nervous. No longer was the question how much would Ohio State win by, but rather would they come back and win at all? My over-the-top, wake up the neighbors obnoxious chanting, cheering and singing was put on pause.
But only briefly. Because the best team in the country showed that they are in fact…the best team in the country. Braxton Miller demonstrated that his nickname should be X-Brax One, because he looked like a video game out there using spin moves to embarrass defenders. The defense started living up to its nickname of the Silver Bullets, stopping Virginia Tech early and often in the second half. And things returned to the norm.
The end result was a 42-24 game that felt a whole lot closer than the 18 point margin of victory. Braxton Miller proved he could handle a position change and was named Big Ten Player of the Week. Cardale Jones was named the starter and got the job done, even with modest passing statistics to show for it. JT Barrett proved he’s not a backup, but rather a second starter and orchestrated a brilliant drive when he got the chance behind center.
But all those things can’t hide the flaws. Turnovers and a lack of solid wide receivers who can be relied on for possession and moving the chains. An offensive line that sure didn’t look like it deserved to be hailed as the best in the country and a running game that with the exception of Zeke’s home run, looked a tad flat. But that’s okay. It was week one. Reinforcements are back from suspension next week and most importantly the man on the headset, the one running practices and making adjustments is none other than Urban Meyer – the greatest college football coach of our generation.
So rest easy Buckeyes fans. The Scarlet and Gray are still the best team in the country and Hawaii is going to find that out the hard way next week.