With no cupcakes early, Ohio State rushes to get ready
By MITCH STACY, AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said opening the season on the road against a Big Ten opponent brings another level of urgency to preseason practice.
Usually there are lesser opponents scheduled for the first couple of games, which Meyer said gives the team a chance to work out the bugs. This season, the Buckeyes open on Aug. 31 against Indiana at Bloomington, then come back for the home opener nine days later against Oklahoma.
“We are not playing preseason games,” Meyer said Monday, referring to the usual early home games against outmanned opponents. “We are in the Big Ten conference, Game One. So sometimes I’ll count those games as a chance to get guys ready. We don’t have that luxury this year. This year, you’re in it.”
Along with the NCAA rule changes that eliminated two-a-day practices, adjustments had to be made to the practice schedule to get the team ready to go. Teams were allowed to start practicing earlier this year to get as close as possible to the 29 sessions allowed. Ohio State has 28 scheduled before the opener.
Preseason camp opened last week, and the players put on the pads for the first time on Thursday. After a scrimmage Saturday, coaches will get serious about building their depth charts, Meyer said.
“It’s all culture at this point,” he said. “That’s that whole thing, the go hard. Because there are going to plenty of mistakes. The player that (when) something good does not happen and they revert back to the fundamentals and all the training they’ve been through, those are the guys that play. That’s what I look for now.”
Ohio State was eager to get started after how the season ended last year, a 31-0 pasting at the hands of eventual national champion Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
“I don’t think I feel a negative vibe,” said Kevin Wilson, the former Indiana coach hired as offensive coordinator to help shore up the Buckeyes’ passing game. “But I did feel from the get-go that this was a very mature team. Because there was an experience that didn’t go positively, I think they were using that as positive motivation.”
JAMARCO STEPS UP
Meyer said he expects senior tackle Jamarco Jones to be one of the leaders on an offensive line that struggled at time last year in passing situations.
Jones kept his cool when plays started breaking down and was one of the team’s most improved players, Meyer said.
“He was the one guy in that offensive line, that him and obviously (former center) Pat Elflein were the two guys that when chaos was going around them, you could count on them to settle things down and do their job,” Meyer said. “So it was just maturity, and he’s turned into being a heck of a player.”
Meyer said running back Mike Weber has been limited in practice because of a tight hamstring. Weber rushed for more than a 1,000 yards as a freshman last season and is expected to again be the starter.
“We’re just being cautious this early out,” Meyer said, “So he’s practiced a little bit (Monday). He’s on the mend.”
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