August 29, 2012

Meyer wants the Buckeyes to be an angry team

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - For the first time in two years, the Ohio State football team will take the field on Saturday for a season opener without the distractions of NCAA violations, star player suspensions, or a coaching search looming over its head.

One would think that would make for a happy mood around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

But first-year head coach Urban Meyer doesn't want to take a happy football team into the Buckeyes' season opener with Miami (OH) on Saturday, or the 2012 season. In fact, Meyer wants the opposite.

"I wanted to have an angry team, a team with a chip on its shoulder. And at this point I'd say we have that," Meyer said. "I have a team that's chomping at the bit to go play."

Perhaps the reason that Meyer is so anxious for his team to be an angry one is because he's seen the results that an angry football team can yield. The former Florida head coach described his 2006 team as one of the angriest he's coached, and that team went on to win the BCS National Championship.

"It was a group of kids that really struggled for a few years. It was a very angry team. Every coach's dream is to coach an angry team," Meyer said. "You could stoke that fire real easy. And it's the teams that you can't stoke them, you can't push them, that you worry about."

It may be too early to get a finger on the pulse of what the Buckeyes' collective mindset will be for the duration of the 2012 season, but all indications so far have been that Meyer will be pleased. Thanks to a bowl ban that came as the result of players from the 2010 team receiving impermissible benefits, former coach Jim Tressel failing to report those violations, and other players receiving cash at a charity event, the Buckeyes have plenty to be angry about this season.

And while Meyer hasn't held violations committed in the past by current players Jordan Hall, Corey Brown, Travis Howard, and Marcus Hall against them, he also isn't afraid to use them as a source of motivation.

"If I want to make them angry, then I can fire some shots at them. I mean, my job is to motivate 100 18-year-olds. You guys try to figure it out," Meyer said. "If I see a window opening to go piss someone off to get them to go a little harder today, I've been known to do that a little bit."

And according to his players, Meyer's message has been received loud and clear.

"All we've been through in the offseason, we're trying to come back with an urgent sense of mentality," senior linebacker Etienne Sabino said. "Speaking for me personally, I'm just tired of practicing our guys and hitting our guys. I'm ready to hit someone else in a different color."

Sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier agreed with Sabino in stating that the Buckeyes are angrier than they are a year ago, but that has as much to do with the 6-7 season that they endured last season as anything.

"We're just angry about what happened last year and we don't want that to happen again," Shazier said. "We've just been having a really tough offseason and everybody just so angry to get back to the field."

The angry attitude that Meyer is seeking hasn't only infiltrated both the Buckeyes' offense and defense, but its their special teams unit. If Meyer has any doubts whether or not this team is a stubborn one, perhaps he should have a chat with his kicker.

"We can still win a championship. So we're going out and we can still win a national championship," Drew Basil said. "We're playing for the national championship. There's nothing that can stop us."


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