Urban Meyer feels a lot better about his team this summer than he did last summer, but one thing about the hottest months of 2012 continues to bug him.
That would be the foot injury suffered by senior running back Jordan Hall, a cut that started off a chain of events that ended with Hall out for the season after just three games played.
That’s immediately where Meyer’s mind went when given the news this week that senior backup quarterback Kenny Guiton has suffered a hand injury recently. Meyer is unsure of the injury’s seriousness, but it’s safe to say he hopes the player known as “Coach Guiton” will be ready to go come the fall.
"I think Kenny Guiton might have injured his hand, but I don't know how serious,” Meyer said today after the annual Morning Sports Report, staged by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, at the Ohio Union. “I'm going to find out. You just always worry. I remember last year when we lost Jordan Hall for six weeks."
Other than that, it seemed like Meyer was pleased with where his team is after last year’s 12-0 campaign. The Buckeyes bought in to Meyer’s system early last season, the offense and defense are set with all nine assistant coaches returning, and there is recruiting momentum. In addition, Meyer’s family is settled in the Columbus area, removing one burden the head man had to deal with a summer ago.
“Last year at this time was not very smooth,” he said.
In other words, things aren’t bad in Meyer land, even as he can’t watch any workouts this summer while the Buckeyes are in the hands of his strength and conditioning coach, Mickey Marotti.
“I really trust my strength coach,” he said. “We’ve been together a long time, and I love my players, so it’s going well. About injuries and attitudes, I keep tabs on it. Every coach in America does. You can’t be there, but I’m there.”
In fact, the biggest thing Meyer seems worried about this summer is the potential for distraction. Ohio State is rated among the top teams in the country by just about every outlet, something that worries the head coach who continues to stress that the way to the top is to keep one’s nose to the grindstone.
“That’s what I count on my strength coach for,” Meyer said. “We’re not allowed to have organized meetings, but he sees them every day. Distractions are distractions. I go back to when I was 18 years old and you guys were 18 years ago. There were distractions everywhere. Now imagine people telling you how good you are on top of that.
“There’s only one way to do it, and that’s to try to educate them. And the fear factor, too – ‘Don’t you screw this up or you’re not going to play.’ That’s my biggest concern when I have a high-expectations team coming into the summer.”
Still, Meyer said he’d rather be coaching a squad like Ohio State that is projected to be among the top teams in the country rather than a team that is ranked 115th, much like his first Bowling Green team was by one national outlet at the onset of his tenure.
“I didn’t even know there were 115 teams,” he said. “I’m glad I’m coaching a good team. It’s good to say, though, that Bowling Green didn’t finish 115th. We finished much better than that.”
Meyer also confirmed when speaking to the media that punter Cameron Johnston had signed with the team and was working out. The Australian began summer classes at Ohio State in early June and will be in the running to become the No. 1 punter on the team this fall.
“I can’t work with him, but our punters are working with him,” Meyer said. “Drew Basil is the captain of my special teams unit. We needed a punter and because of our scholarship reduction, we didn’t have one available in February for one. We had a scholarship come available, so I made the decision we needed to go get a punter.
“To find one of his caliber based on what everybody is telling me, it’s hard to imagine that happening. But he hasn’t punted in a game yet either.”