The 123rd season of Ohio State football started in the wee hours of Friday morning when the team’s veterans showed up at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for a 6 a.m. practice.
Local reporters got a chance to speak with a handful of players afterward. Here are some notes from those interviews (this is a regular feature on the blog. You can also find it at BuckeyeSports.com.).
Ohio State’s quarterback said he had no problem getting up for 5 a.m. practice today. It was just a matter of getting up and going.
The timing between him and the wide receivers is better now after they worked on it all summer.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller answers questions
Told the head coach has very high expectations for him, he said that’s cool.
He laughed when told teammate Bradley Roby compared his scrambling skills to Michael Vick. Miller said he just uses his feet when he has to.
Practice started at 5 a.m., but everyone was hyped. It was a little different than past years.
Their goals are still to win all their games, like always, despite the bowl ban.
He feels a lot different this year. His body is changing along with his attitude and leadership. It is all coming together.
He talked to the coaches about being more of a leader this year. Last year it was odd for him to take charge because he was a freshman. He feels a lot better this year about it. He told the guys today it was time to go.
He was on practice calling out the protections and making adjustments today.
He feels everything is on him as far as the offense goes, and he welcomes that. He takes personally any mistake the offense makes, even if it wasn’t by him (For example: A dropped pass).
He’s sure the fans also have high expectations for the team because that is always the case. He remembers it that way when he was in high school. There was always a feeling Ohio State would go undefeated that season.
He worked on his passing accuracy this summer. That was a big focus. Last year he would get anxious and jittery and rush things when he saw an open man. This year he is working on keeping his momentum in check.
He doesn’t got back and look at film from the first half of the Nebraska game from last season, but he admitted that he really felt comfortable and like himself that night when he was carving up the Cornhuskers before getting hurt.
Asked what new offensive coordinator Tom Herman has brought to the team, he said first and foremost just knowledge. Herman has taught him about reading defensive fronts and making adjustments accordingly.
He loves the pressure from the coaching staff and feels like he needs to do everything right. The offense was tough to pick up initially, but everything is working out so far.
Carlos Hyde has slimmed down, “got some of that jelly fat off of him”. He has the talent to be off the charts.
Asked again about the Vick comparisons, he shrugged it off and said he was going to have to talk to Roby about saying things like that.
Someone asked what quarterback’s play has stuck out to him in the past year, and he said Cam Newton. His rookie year in the NFL was legit.
During the summer, he worked with the receivers in the morning and again after class. They go over the playbook together as well.
Devin Smith and Philly Brown did the most to catch his eye during the offseason. He said Smith was antsy sometimes and could get lazy, but he is over that now. Smith is determined to be the best.
Brown works hard and has a little extra juice. He could also play the hybrid role in the offense.
During summer workouts, the junior running back was clocked at 4.43 and 4.45 in the 40-yard dash.
He is looking forward to getting a shot at being the featured running back.
The offense executed well on the first day. It was much better than the first day of spring ball when everyone seemed kind of lost. Today, they were sharp.
Miller and fellow quarterback Kenny Guiton looked good. Miller talked about being more of a leader, but Hyde said the older guys in the huddle have also remained vocal. He singled out center Corey Linsley, a fourth-year junior.
The goal for the team is to go 12-0. The bowl band hasn’t changed their focus.
Last year was a roller-coaster for him as he never knew when he was going to play and when not. He thought the established himself with his performance against Nebraska then sat the bench the next week at Illinois. Older guys sat him down and told him to be patient and wait his turn. He later acknowledged it was only right for Boom Herron, a senior, to take his spot at the top of the depth chart once he returned from suspension because he had more experience and had earned it.
Hyde got his chance against Indiana and made the most of it, rushing for more than 100 yards in the game. He never thought about leaving the team even when he was down.
He feels like his time is now, and he can’t wait for the first game. He wants to prove to the coaches how physical he can be because he didn’t show as much as he could ahve in the spring because he was fighting an ankle sprain. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone because they are his teammates, but Hyde wants to get after it.
He thinks he can learn any position on the team if he gets a chance to learn it.
Someone asked if he has worked on catching the ball. He said yes and he likes to tell people he has the best hands on the team. Receiving can be a strength for him, he says.
This offense will put him out in the open and give him more chances solo against one defender, and he likes that because if he can make a guy miss, it is off to the races. Quick snaps put pressure on the defense as well.
The playbook was confusing at first, but he caught on pretty quick once he got into it. The offense is actually pretty easy for a running back.
He recalled lining up in the I formation only during red zone situations during spring ball.
Asked about the offense, he said he expects lots of points and big plays. It’s exciting to play for a coach who wants to score as many points as possible.
He expects all of the scholarship tailbacks to step up with Jordan Hall out with a foot injury. The backs spent the summer drilling together, working on jump cuts and pass blocking. Stan Drayton was surprised at how ready to go they were on day one.
The senior defensive tackle said working with new defensive line coach Mike Vrabel (who handled linebackers last season) has been good so far. Vrabel is intense and really knows what he is doing.
Nathan Williams, a senior recovering from major knee surgery last season, was at practice but did not participate as far as Goebel knew.
The goals are simple this year: To win as many games as possible for the seniors and send them out on a positive note.
Their mindsets remain the same as any other year despite the postseason ban from the NCAA.
He has gained 10 pounds but managed to cut some body fat percentage along the way and feels stronger.