Aug. 6, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Three practice days are behind the Ohio State Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer told a large assemblage of media members Tuesday that the goal of these initial eight or nine practices is to find out who is going to play for the Buckeyes this season.
"The one thing we are doing with all these black stripes [on the freshmen and first-year players' helmets] is we are going to find out who is going to play," Meyer told about 40 local members of the media who cover the team. "And we'll probably know in a week.
"All our work up until scrimmage No. 1 (Aug. 10) is [looking at] everybody...scholarship, non-scholarship, freshman and non-freshman and then after that we go win a game. All our focus then will be on game planning. The focus right now is I want to see who will go really hard."
And the first young player who popped into Meyer's mind after he said that: Dontre Wilson, the 174-pound running back from DeSoto, Texas, who scored 81 touchdowns during a big-time, big-school high school career. He was a consensus Top 100 player nationally.
"I would say he is going to play," Meyer said. "He just goes really hard. ... Has electric speed."
Getting some kicks in
Meyer also said Wednesday that Cameron Johnston, the freshman punter from Geelong, Australia, is the team's No. 1 punter.
"He's doing good," Meyer said. "The first day was ridiculous...a one-shot wonder. The second day he was okay and the third day he was okay. But he's got a live leg and he's a tremendous kid...a 21-year-old. He's not that 17-year-old wide-eyed guy. He's a live guy. He's a fast athlete so we might be able to do some things with him in the pocket. He is our No. 1 guy."
132 games and 78 starts
Members of an experienced position group - in terms of games played and started - on the team, the offensive linemen, met with the media after practice today along with co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Ed Warinner.
Three of the four returning starters - LT Jack Mewhort, LG Andrew Norwell and RG Marcus Hall - shared thoughts with the press along with sophomore Taylor Decker, who is competing to replace Reid Fragel at the right tackle position.
On the difference between fall camp this year and last year, Marcus Hall said "It is always a grind, but this year we know what to expect. It is always spontaneous with Coach Meyer, but we know that is his style so, while we know what to expect, he still keeps us on our toes."
Decker said he is learning about the right tackle position every day, and he credits his teammates for that.
"Going against guys like Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence, who are fast and big and strong, helped me develop a lot already," Decker said. "I need to continue to get in the weight room and constantly keep a low pad level because I can't just overpower everyone anymore."
Decker said he is also learning about what it takes to be an Ohio State lineman.
"An Ohio State lineman is tough, goes all the time, is coachable and is somebody the coaches look to for leadership. The other four guys on the line encompass that; they are dominant."
The foundation of it all
The four returning starters along the line, including center Corey Linsley, have a combined 132 games played and 78 starts among them. This unit shined during the Buckeyes' 12-0 campaign in 2012. It helped the Buckeyes:
- Average 242.2 rushing yards per game (10th nationally);
- Lead the Big Ten in scoring at 37.1 points per game; and
- Score a 34-year high 37 rushing touchdowns.
Norwell was named first-team all-Big Ten (media voters), Mewhort was named second-team all-Big Ten (media) and Linsley was named honorable mention all-Big Ten (media and coaches).
Norwell, Hall and Mewhort all played in 827 of the team's 837 offensive plays last year, a mind boggling 98.8 percent of the snaps. This can mean only one thing...
Line depth a concern
Urban Meyer said it after practice today: offensive line depth is not like it should be at Ohio State. Among the players currently battling behind the four starters, only fourth-year junior Darryl Baldwin (101 plays in 2012; mostly on special teams), third-year sophomore Chase Farris (68 special teams plays), true sophomore Jacoby Boren (two games; 37 plays) and fourth-year junior Eric Kramer (69 special teams plays) have collegiate experience. Red-shirt freshmen Pat Elflein and Kyle Dodson are getting all-important practice reps now as well.
BTN is coming to town
For the seventh straight year, Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith will cruise through Big Ten country to bring fans a 30-minute, on-site preview show from every Big Ten campus on the Big Ten Football Preview Tour, presented by Culligan. The BTN crew will travel more than 3,000 miles in a customized chartered bus branded with the BTN logo. Tomorrow, the tour makes its stop in Columbus to obtain practice footage and interviews in advance of its Ohio State show at 8 p.m. Aug. 13. All the school's fall camp shows can also be seen on BTN2Go.
Commissioner Delany on tour
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will be in Columbus tomorrow with the Big Ten Network. He will visit all the Big Ten stops this year on a tour that celebrates his 25th years a Big Ten commissioner, the 100th year of the Big Ten Medal of Honor and the 100th year of the Rose Bowl.