March 31, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer put his team through a competitive two-hour workout Saturday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The practice, under gray skies and perfect-for-March, 44-degree temperatures, was the first of the spring for the team wearing full pads.

“It’s easy to come in on the first day and jump around and be pumped up over the start of spring ball,” Meyer told his team Friday in anticipation of the first pads practice, “but that makes you like 40,000 other players out there. What will make you different and set you apart is to be someone who comes out and really competes when the pads are on…really proves they want to be a football player by showing up and competing.”

There were plenty of opportunities to show up and compete Saturday. There were at least five different “win or lose” sessions with players going one-on-one on several occasions. These sessions were full of intense, physical confrontation and lots of cheering, hooting and hollering. The practice closed with an offense vs. defense scrimmage drill. While no score was offered publicly, the defense claimed bragging rights today as evident by the offensive side of the ball – coaches and interns, too – running post-practice while the defensive players chugged ice cold Gatorade.

“The defense won today; make sure you get that in there,” senior linebacker Etienne Sabino said after practice. “Winning is important. You want to win every day.”

The team is now off until Monday.

Linebackers and QBs meet the press
After practice, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman met with the media. Players available for interviews Saturday included Sabino and sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier, and quarterbacks Kenny Guiton, a junior, and Braxton Miller, a sophomore.  Some thoughts from the day:

Coach Herman on the offensive playbook: “Our playbooks are always evolving. Coach Meyer came in with a time-tested playbook with a lot of explosive and dynamic properties. We enhance it with our experiences, but Coach Meyer’s system is tried and true at a lot of places.”

Herman on Braxton Miller: “He throws better than I had anticipated. But there are some mechanics things we can work on. … The ball comes out nice and smooth. We have to keep progressing and enter warp speed to try and get him to be a coach on the field.”

Coach Fickell on the defense: “Nothing has changed a whole lot. We don’t ask our guys to worry about the names on the back of the jersey. It’s all about the name on the front of the jersey, and it’s the same way for the coaches. We all work together to accomplish our team goals. We’re going to get the best three players on the field. Coach Meyer doesn’t care what kind of coverage we’re in or what packages we run as long as all 11 players get from point A to point B as fast as they can.”

Braxton Miller on the offense: “Our offense is fast tempo and really explosive. I feel comfortable in the pocket and have faith in my athletic ability and [my ability] to make plays.”

Miller on goals: “I feel better this spring after having a year under me. I just want to keep progressing this year. I want to lead the team and win every game.”

Kenny Guiton on the offense: “I love it. It is up-tempo and we don’t stop. As a quarterback, we’re constantly reading defensive ends. The coaches have put a lot on us to learn, but it’s not too tough.”

On he and Miller running the offense: “We are both dual-threat guys. We can both throw and run. I think this offense is really suited to us.”

Etienne Sabino on practices under Coach Meyer: “”It’s fun, fast paced, real competitive and just a great atmosphere. Everybody’s working hard and getting better every day.”

Ryan Shazier on Coach Meyer: “I like him a lot. He’s really intense in practice. He really gets us going.”

Shazier on the competitive practice: “It felt good. It’s always good to have competition in practice. It’s a way to make us better.”

Superb Friday
The team practiced Friday in shorts and helmets for about two hours in uncommonly nice weather for March with sunshine and 70 degree warmth and only a slight breeze.  

Number change
Redshirt freshman long snapper Bryce Haynes will be wearing jersey number 41 from now on. He wore No. 54 last season – same as third-team All-American defensive lineman John Simon – but has been moved from that number because of possible special team’s conflicts. George Makridis, long snapper all last year, remains in jersey No. 56.

The recent addition of walk-on Kevin Niehoff from Mason (Ohio) High School gives the Buckeye special teams an even mix of right- and left-footed punters and kickers. Niehoff is a left-footed punter, and Russell Doup is a left-footed kicker. Meanwhile kicker Drew Basil and punter Ben Buchanan both kick with their right foot. Buchanan has also been working as the team’s holder for placements.  

General admission spring game seats
Outside of some in the “club seats” section of Ohio Stadium, all seating for the 2012 LiFE Sports Spring Game is general admission (tickets are $7 in advance and $15 – cash only – day-of-game). Questions have arisen as to whether seating is assigned based on the number/seat location on the ticket.  

More than 15,000 already sold
At last check, more than 15,000 tickets had been sold for the 2012 LiFE Sports Spring game. Ohio State’s last five spring game attendance figures:

2011 – 44,276
2010 – 65,223
2009 – 95,722
2008 – 76,346
2007 – 75,301