Dec. 31, 2011
PONTE VEDRA, Fla. - Ohio State wrapped up its TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl practice schedule Saturday morning at the University of North Florida's Hodges Field. The Buckeyes went through an 11-period practice routine, concluding about 10:45 a.m.
Following practice, the Buckeyes headed downtown to the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville for the CSX Coaches Luncheon and Hall of Fame Induction. Enshrined into the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame was the late Bill Nimnicht, Sr., a former Gator Bowl Association President, Pat Jones, former head coach at Oklahoma State University, and former Michigan receiver/return specialist Anthony Carter, the MVP of the 1979 Gator Bowl.
Both team's coaches and captains took part in one final press conference Saturday. Captains Mike Brewster, Dan Herron, Andrew Sweat and John Simon were the Ohio State players available to the working press. Some of the final thoughts from the day included:
Luke on anything new offensively the team may be practicing: "We're going to run some. We'll throw the ball a little. I can't tell you which direction it's going to go though."
Luke on Jake Stoneburner: "I'm curious myself [to see how much he'll be able to play]. I don't know how available he'll be. We still have a day-and-a-half to go. He won't play the whole game, but there are some situational spots we'll hope to get him in." (Note: Stoneburner had surgery in December).
Mike Brewster on Coach Jim Bollman: "I've known him for seven or eight years now. He is like family. I love the guy. He's pretty much taught me everything I know technique-wise. I can' thank him enough."
John Simon on Coach Jim Heacock: "He has done a great job with us. He knows what he is talking about. I have been privileged to play for him. We all feel that way, and we hope to send him out with a win."
Mike Brewster on Braxton Miller: "The Braxton who is under center now is not the Braxton who was under center at the start. He has been unbelievable at reading plays and understanding signals, and he has a much better grasp of the big picture."
Florida coach Will Muschamp on Urban Meyer: "Urban Meyer will have no affect on this game. He will be the Ohio State coach next year."
Muschamp on Braxton Miller: "Braxton Miller is a fabulous athlete. He can really run. He is liable to take the ball anywhere."
Muschamp on the Ohio State defense: "It is a technically sound defense. They do a nice job leveraging formations. I've been very impressed every year with what they've done under Jim Heacock. They've had some injuries at linebacker and are thin in some areas, but they are fundamentally sound and will play hard."
EverBank Field Visit
One final adventure outside of the team headquarters before the game Monday included a trip Saturday afternoon to the site of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: EverBank Field. The team spent about 20 minutes on the field and in the locker room.
Happy New Year
The team members will have an option this evening of going to the Town Center Mall for a few hours of diversion. All players will be back at the Sawgrass Marriott by approximately 10 p.m. with most expected to be in the team's hospitality room/game room area to welcome in the New Year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the honor of flipping the coin during the pregame coin toss. He will drive his stock car onto the field, but to keep from tearing up the field, the car will not be wearing its racing tires. Instead, it will be outfitted with a traditional rain tire so it will be able to grip the grass as it slowly makes its way on and off the field.
A mid-morning team meeting is scheduled for the Buckeyes with a second TBD Sunday afternoon. Everyone will remain on the Sawgrass Marriott property throughout the day.