Urban Meyer wants more noise.
The first-year Ohio State football coach isn’t blaming the fans for the somewhat subdued environment at Ohio Stadium so far this season — he knows his players need to fuel that.
But a less-than-capacity crowd of 104,475 watched a 31-16 win over Central Florida last week — the first turnout at OSU under 105,000 since 2009 — and the docile atmosphere was a letdown for Meyer.
“I expected much more. I expect the stadium to be an inferno,” Meyer said.
Maybe the enthusiasm has been dampened because the 12th-ranked Buckeyes can’t play for a Big Ten title or go to a bowl. But Meyer is hoping he doesn’t have to wait until next year before fans get the Horseshoe rocking.
“If you had a vision of what it should be like, I’d expect that stadium to be electric,” he said. “I think it’s been OK. But we need to play better.
“You want to get a stadium going? Go hit a quarterback. You want to really get a stadium going, go put a hand on a punt. That’s when people come out of their seats.”
Strategizing: A rule change in college football has allowed touchbacks on kickoffs to be placed at the 25-yard line instead of the 20. And Meyer, who coaches the unit himself, has been looking for ways to pin opponents inside the 25.
He’s mostly had kicker Drew Basil boot the ball toward the corner of the field and short of the goal line, while the Buckeye kicking team overloads that side. The results were mixed in the opener against Miami, but the strategy paid off against Central Florida.
After a touchback on the opening kickoff, the Buckeyes allowed only one return beyond the 25 — the Knights reached the 33 and had a 15-yard penalty tacked on. The average field position on the other four kicks was just short of the 18-yard line.
“They are getting a little mojo about what they do,” Meyer said. “We have a saying around here: Be the best in the country at what you do, and they are trying to be the best. … That’s my favorite 10 minutes of the day right now, being with those guys.”
The unit is loaded with promising freshmen, including Jamal Marcus, Najee Murray, Devan Bogard and David Perkins, although Meyer didn’t exactly appreciate Perkins raising his arms in exuberance after one tackle.
“That will be the last time you see him stand up and do his little deal,” Meyer said.
About Cal: Allen, a first-team All-Pac-12 pick last season, has 11 catches for 136 yards. In a mock draft on CBSSports.com , the 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior is projected as the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft.
Running back Isi Sofele rushed for 104 yards for Cal in a 50-31 win over an FCS opponent, Southern Utah, last week. Senior QB Zach Maynard is in his second season as a starter after transferring from Buffalo.
Dominance: The Buckeyes are 55-26-2 all-time against the Pac-12, including 10 wins in their last 13 meetings. OSU returns the game with Cal next season at renovated Memorial Stadium.