Captain's Corner: Players Make It All Work
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Posted May 14, 2005


Head coaches are always in the spotlight these days, held in high regard when their team wins and often criticized when their team loses. But the players are the key, says ex-OSU captain Jerry Rudzinski. In today's Captain's Corner, Jerry discusses the importance of having great players and why it is the most crucial part of a team's success.

For the record, I've never been a big Florida Gator fan. In fact, I have been known to get a bit emotional when SEC fans are showing too much swagger. I am a Big Ten guy, and you can count of me standing behind the Big Ten when conversations come up on the radio or around the watercooler.

With all that said, you can't help but follow Urban Meyer and the Gators this off-season. The buzz in Florida is similar to the buzz when Jim Tressel was hired at OSU. Meyer will succeed. The resources and facilities will help. The sophisticated "out-of-the-box" offense will contribute. Meyer's focus on discipline should translate into less mistakes on the field. The home field advantage featuring raucous Gator fans will intimidate teams that come into "The Swamp."

However, all that combined won't win you games. What will make Meyer successful is great players. Sure there have been talented players that have fallen flat due to poor coaching, discipline, and chemistry, but that doesn't change the fact that great players get you great victories. Yes, Bowling Green and Utah did not have the talent of some teams they beat during the Meyer years, but great players are still needed for Meyer's Gators and Tressel's Buckeyes.

No matter how hard I tried to improve my technique and power, I couldn't get around Orlando Pace in practice. I had nice facilities to work out in and I had discipline, but Orlando dominated me and other hard workers on the team.

Recruiting is emphasized by fans, but it might even be under-emphasized. Cris Carter and Terry Glenn and Ted Ginn, Jr. beat some very well-coached defensive backs for touchdowns. Chalk talk is fun; I love the schemes and strategies as much as the next guy. The chess game of football excites me. An offensive mind can draw up a play, then the defensive guy tops it, then the offensive guy comes back with "then we will do this…." It goes on and on and I never get sick of it.

However, after you do it long enough, you start to realize we are often assuming perfect execution and players of equal talent on both sides. All the chalk talk is thrown out the window if Will Smith takes that offensive tackle and flings him to the ground before he steps over him to hit the quarterback as the ball is being handed off.

Great, talented football players make up for a few sins in technique and alignment. You need those little things to win a national championship, but your odds are better with great players doing the little things right versus average players doing the little things right.

Meyer will get his players down in Florida. He needs to point those players in the right direction and get out of their way.



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