Another week of preparation for a football game has come and gone at Ohio State. Here’s a recap of what the Buckeye players and coaches had to say leading up to the Wisconsin game in case you need a reminder or you missed anything.
(For personnel updates, check out the BuckeyeSports.com story)
Ohio State’s head coach said he did not see the end of the Wisconsin-Michigan State game live because he had been in bed for an hour or so, but he saw many replays. He does not expect Wisconsin to be extra down because of the way the Badgers lost. A loss is a loss, no matter if it is close or not.
The Buckeyes have to worry more about taking care of their own business. He was asked about some of the guys celebrating on Twitter and said if that helps them believe in themselves a little more or feel a little more motivation, that’s good.
He joked again that they worked on stretching out Braxton Miller’s hands to improve the passing game, then said he thinks they are seeing some growth overall but that is all talk until they see it on the field Saturday night.
He has liked the composure Miller has shown so far this season and sees him learning every week.
The biggest thing he has seen from Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson is how he has blended in with what they do as a team. He is a good fit for them offensively, and he has shown a lot of maturity on and off the field. The keys to stopping him include showing him different looks and hitting him. That hadn’t happened much before the Badgers played Michigan State. The Badgers have done a good job of protecting him and using play action to open things up.
Revenge should not be a big factor for the Buckeyes this week despite their loss at Madison last season. They can’t repay that game, but they can remember the pain of the defeat and use that. Otherwise, they need to have moved on.
Someone wondered if the importance of this game is creeping up on that of the Michigan game, but he seemed to indicate it is not. He said he knew the number of days until the Buckeyes play the Wolverines, but he actually got it wrong (He said 34, but its was 32).
He looks for a good crowd Saturday night and the team can feed off its energy, but they must also stay in control. The students do bring more energy when they are there. They saw the effect of emotion at Nebraska when the crowd got back into it and momentum swung toward the Cornhuskers.
He was asked about using Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde in different roles with Boom Herron back and did not dismiss the idea. They want to get their best 11 on the field however they can (this included splitting out fullback Zach Boren in the slot at times last game). They make up plans for using people but then they have to go with what is working in the games. It was unfortunate they couldn’t use Hyde more against Illinois, but Herron was lathered up and rolling good.
He hasn’t been told what he needs to do to maintain the head coach position and would be doing a disservice to the players on this team if he looked ahead to the end of the season. Things will take care of themselves.
Beating Wisconsin starts up front, where they are very good and have been for years. They believe in what they do and recruit for it. They are well-coached.
Ohio State’s linebackers are growing and playing with more confidence. They will need to play great against the Badgers, but they will have to get help from the defensive line, too. We can expect to see three linebackers on the field together more often this week than we have in recent weeks, but Star Tyler Moeller will still have a role.
He and the team are not worry about when the NCAA’s decision will come down because it is out of their control. He has no insight on when it might happen.
The key to preventing the damage the Wisconsin did to the Ohio State defense last season is to be sound. It is no secret what the Badgers want to do, and the Buckeyes have to get settled in faster.
Sitting around all day for night games is tough. He would rather play every week at noon, but he admitted the atmosphere is great for night games and knows the players like them.
He did not have an opinion on a proposal to increase money players would get from scholarships.
They will have to divert a little extra time to recruiting because a lot of players will be in for visits, but that is part of the job. And it helps pass some of the day, too. They want the recruits to see what the place looks like and take in the atmosphere at night.
Asked about this old teammate Eddie George, who will be recognized at the game for his impending induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, he said that is probably one of the best stories he has ever been around at Ohio State. Things did not go his way early in his career, but he was the hardest working guy on the team for the next three years and built himself into a Heisman Trophy winning tailback.
Fickell was against the Pro Combat uniforms when he first heard about them a couple of years ago, but he realizes the guys like them and the switching things up has become part of the culture now. It brings something from an excitement, marketing and recruiting standpoint. However, he does not think we will see any black uniforms in the future because he’s not aware of any time in the past OSU wore black.
Special teams have been great so far for the Buckeyes, especially the punt unit led by punter Ben Buchanan.
They had a positive week off, and he does not think they have lost momentum from the win at Illinois. Playing at home again and at night should help restore anything that might have slipped away, and they have to maintain it once the game starts.
Tight end Jake Stoneburner said Miller looked pretty good on his passing reads at practice Tuesday night. He saw Miller putting the ball where it needed to be during practice.
They always had hope they could get back into the Big Ten race, but seeing Wisconsin lose helps, too. It was a good feeling, and it might have lifted the Buckeyes’ spirits and given them some added confidence.
They know how Wisconsin is feeling right now coming off their first loss because the Badgers put them in the same position last season.
There is no better atmosphere than Ohio Stadium for a night game.
He loves the special uniforms they will wear this week and thinks its cool they do the tributes to past teams as opposed to the things Nike has made for some other teams. They have not worn the jerseys and pants yet but practiced in the new helmets, cleats and gloves today.
They are not too worried about revenge on the Badgers but really just getting a win. Still, they can’t wait to get a shot at Wisconsin.
He does feel like the Buckeyes were good enough to win the national championship last year if they hadn’t stumbled in Madison. They are not going to dwell on Terrelle Pryor’s comments last year that Ohio State would have won nine of 10 matchups with the Badgers. He’s gone so it doesn’t matter. The Buckeyes have a new quarterback who is just as talented.
Emotion is huge in college football, as evidenced by the game last year after the Badgers returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and again in the fourth quarter at Nebraska this year.
Cornerback Travis Howard said Wisconsin’s offense is better than it was last year. The quarterback is a dual threat who keeps plays alive with his feet. Michigan State succeeded against them by blitzing and pressuring him.
Wisconsin’s Nick Toon is a big, physical wide receiver who they try to get the ball to a lot, but both of their starting wide receivers are good. The Buckeyes need to maintain their fundamentals to match up with them.
They feel like they have new life in the Big Ten race but still have to play the game. They need to be physical and sound to avoid a repeat of last season.
Center Mike Brewster said emotions will be high, but they need to focus and play on the edge without falling off it.
Braxton Miller looks like a different guy in practice than he did a month ago. He has more confidence and understands more of the offense. He is more comfortable. Brewster is excited to see him get back out there to exhibit his development.
Brewster feels like they are ahead of the game at this point in the week because of the week off to heal and start preparing for the Badgers.
Morale is high at this point. They need to come out and hit Wisconsin in the mouth early.
People forget how good running back Boom Herron is. He think Herron’s vision is better than it was last year.
Asked if Ohio State’s offensive line gets overlooked with everyone focusing on how good Wisconsin’s is, he said he’s not sure. Getting Mike Adams back two games ago has been a big boost for the Buckeyes.
Running back Carlos Hyde, who tweeted some displeasure with his lack of carries against the Fighting Illini two weeks ago, has handled things well in practice since then. Brewster talked to him, told him Herron’s only got a couple more games left and must make the most of them while Hyde’s time will come.
He was unaware of a petition some college football players have signed that advocates they get a larger cut of the TV money the teams generate. He doesn’t think there is any way to stop people from reaching out to players and offering them illegal benefits. He is fortunate because he comes from a good home and has no financial need, but he knows it would be great for some other players if some extra money was offered as part of the scholarships.
Offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Bollman laughed when asked if there will be more than four passes in the game plan this week. There always are, he said, including at Illinois. They ended up throwing so few in Champaign because of wind, field position and game situation. They were going into the wind early, had bad field position when they got the wind and then got the 10-point lead right away in the third quarter. He said he was really disappointed they didn’t do more with the last possession of the second quarter when they thought they could have hit a couple of passes.
He has seen the same progress in Braxton Miller some of the players have identified in the past few days, and it started after the Michigan State game. The key is getting more consistent. The ball has been coming out more quickly, and he has shown more confidence. As he improves in making his reads, everything else will come along.
However, what they are most happy with regarding Miller is that when he drops back and is unclear of what he sees, he does not throw the ball up for grabs. He is careful with it, and he can take off and make great things happen sometimes.
Wisconsin is very good, so they know they have to make more plays on offense than they did in the last game.
The wide receivers are improving along with Miller. They are improving at recognizing coverages and making decisions and playing faster in practice, now they need to transfer it to games.
The offensive line did a good job at Illinois, and Boom Herron added some life. Mike Adams also played better in his second game back. Andrew Norwell is getting used to things inside. He had a tough assignment in his first game at guard – Nebraska’s defensive tackles.
Russell Wilson of Nebraska was an explosive guy when they saw him in high school, but it is tough to project anyone to be as good as he has been throughout his career. They recruited him before he went to NC State and tried to talk to him when he left, but they never actually got connected. He thinks it was after he was pretty set on going to Wisconsin or Auburn, anyway, and it was after Pryor left.
It has been great to have Philly Brown back, but all of the receivers are improving. It was a shame to lose Verlon Reed when they did because he was really coming along. They are anxious to get DeVier Posey back.
Adams has become a very good player. The biggest thing he needed to do was add strength. When you’re not as strong as you need to be, it requires you to be better techniquely, but it takes years to add strength, especially for a lot of guys who are as naturally gifted as he is.
Fullback Zach Boren has an unusual knack for adjusting his blocking on the fly. He sees things as they happen in front of him and can often help others get into better position to make their blocks without losing what he is doing.
He thinks Wisconsin will be able to bounce back from their disappointing loss at Michigan State because they are a veteran team and they are still playing for a Big Ten title game berth.
Wisconsin’s defense plays hard and has a lot of experience, but there are some young guys making their mark, too. Linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor particularly stick out on film.
Kenny Guiton is now the backup quarterback. He has taken advantage of opportunities they have given him in practice, and he brings more athleticism to the position.
False starts on the offensive line are rarely a result of forgetting the snap count. Usually they happen when a guy is locked into what he is doing then hears a line call from his own guy that spooks him.
He acknowledged they had to vary the count more after the Michigan State game. That’s a problem that comes with youth sometimes. They don’t realize it at the time.
Brewster is playing pretty well. He is very settling for the offense. He makes it eaiser for them to make adjustments. In the shotgun in particular he takes control of things. He has seen a lot of things now, so he can recognize a lot. He’s also got the nerve to make changes when he sees something on the field that wasn’t what they had up on the board in the meeting room.