COLUMBUS, Ohio — Four weeks worth of Ohio State’s spring football practices, which kicked off earlier this week, are about the Buckeyes beginning the process of fixing the defense, replacing one of the best the offensive lines in school history and getting a glimpse into the future at quarterback as two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Braxton Miller recovers from what’s considered minor shoulder surgery.
All of that is fine and dandy.
Urban Meyer wants to see a hungry team — one that’s working and operating like a team trying to stop a two-game losing streak and reach its lofty goals.
"We want an angry group," Meyer said earlier this week following the Buckeyes first spring practice.
In Meyer’s previous two springs, the focus has been on fundamentals, a foundation and competition. Those things remain, but the focus on repairing the defense with two new coaches and a bunch of new faces goes hand-in-hand with the attitude Meyer wants his team not to carry not just through spring ball, but through the season.
Meyer wants all the four and five-star recruits he’s brought to Columbus to turn into top-level players, and he wants those players to form a team that embraces its role as the hunter — of the Big Ten title and beyond.
"I feel like we lost something on defense (last year)," Meyer said. "We have a mantra, a culture that I want to make sure we don’t lose."
He’s always emphasized the importance of "four to six seconds of relentless effort," and though he’s not questioning the effort of last year’s team — "If I felt like there was a lack of fight, then weÃd blow the whole thing up," he said — he wants his players to understand that early-morning winter workouts and long spring practices are designed with the bigger picture and big goals in mind.
He’s hinted that 12-0 at the end of 2012 and 24-0 last November were impossible to ignore, inside and out of the program, and that a fresh start at 0-0 can be a good thing if the players properly embrace the opportunity.
"Last year, I don’twant to say the word, ‘entitled," Meyer said. "(But) it was kind of, well, you were 12-0, you’re preseason this, youÃre this, and I haven’t had many people ask about our preseason (ranking this year). Right now were just trying to find out who’s going to play for us in some spots.
"We just have to improve, we’ve got to finish. I like where we are as a team."
Spring practice includes spring break, then three practices a week leading up to the April 12 spring game. It’s a long way to August, but competition across the roster should be as good as it’s been under Meyer and the talent is in place for another successful season. Meyer is offering his players a reminder that talent isn’t enough.
"I want an angry, blue-collar team," Meyer said. "I hope that’s what we’ll have.
Sounds like he’ll spend the next four weeks reminding his team it hasn’t won anything yet.