Ohio State football: Meeting Expectations
For Ohio State, meeting expectations is often impossible. Ohio State football is one of a select few programs where even a glimpse of “averageness” is unacceptable to the loyalists. The best or nothing. That’s just the way it is. Buckeye fans are very unforgiving and sometimes unreasonable. Ryan Day is expected to compete if not win a national championship in his first full season as a head coach. Anything less would be a disappointment to many. So how can the new coaching staff meet expectations set for them?
For Head Coach Ryan Day the pressures are the greatest. He is being asked to take the reins and guide what is arguably the most successful college football program of all time. Following Urban Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in the current era is no easy task. To live up to the expectations he must match the output of last year’s record-setting offense that produced a first-round quarterback in the NFL draft and saw five other offensive players selected. As head coach, ultimately all failures will be on his shoulders but his reputation as an offensive mind, means Ohio State has to score a lot of points to keep people happy.
The next biggest challenge will belong to the mostly retooled defensive staff. The defense doesn’t have to be the ’85 Bears, but has to be vastly different than the one that gave up 49 points to Purdue last season. Last year the Buckeye’s gave up nearly twenty-six points a game. New coaches Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley have quite the buzz around them. Mattison comes from Michigan where he helmed some of college football’s best defenses the last few years. Hafley is coming off a seven-year stint in the NFL. The fan base has high hopes for a nation-leading defense. The defense could be the most important unit while new quarterback Justin Fields gets comfortable in the offense.
The schedule is favorable for the new coaching staff. It lacks the early season clash with a major power-five team that the Buckeyes have had in recent years. Beginning with what should be a blow out of Florida Atlantic that will be a good dress rehearsal for week two. Cincinnati finished 11-2 last year and could be a real test early on. Indiana will be the first Big Ten opponent, the Buckeyes will be heavy favorites and the last non-conference game is Miami OH. These first four games should give the new staff the opportunity to have to team firing on all cylinders before entering Big Ten play in earnest.