Buckeyes Point To Spring Progress

Although a number of high-profile position battles figure to rage on until the season begins, the 2011 Ohio State spring practice sessions did not go to waste. Running back Dan Herron (pictured) and others explain why.

Although Ohio State's spring practice sessions from 2011 will likely be remembered by off-the-field turmoil, the players made available following the spring game pointed to progress made across the board by the Buckeyes.

In his opening statement after the April 23 spring game, head coach Jim Tressel said he felt good about the team's overall attention to detail.

"Sometimes in the spring you've got this veteran team coming back and some guy sitting in the back of the room saying, ‘You know what? I'm not going to play this year anyway,' so he's not razor sharp," the coach said. "I sensed that our guys knew that every person in that room was going to have to make a difference in 2011. I think they prepared that way and I think they progressed that way and I also think they know we've got a lot of work to do but we're looking forward to it."

Said running back Dan Herron, who is one of five players suspended for the first five games of the season: "I think everyone understands that everyone has to step up. With the five guys missing games, someone has to step up. At every position guys are trying their best, trying to get better, trying to get on the field and trying to improve every day."

The spring also allowed the coaches to experiment with a few things. Center Michael Brewster said the Buckeyes worked on far more than they showed the public during the spring game while Herron pointed out that the running backs spent much of the spring running passing routes and serving as wide receivers.

"Everyone was really working hard," Herron said. "The only thing that was a big difference was trying to play a little bit of receiver. That was actually fun for some of us, getting some more guys on the field. I think that really worked out well for us."

Brewster, who enrolled for winter courses as a freshman, said this spring was among the most physical he could remember.

"The main thing was taking as many live reps as we did," he said. "On a daily basis we were doing (scrimmaging) and we were stretching and getting right into (scrimmaging). We usually don't do that but when you have this many young guys you've got to get live reps.

"That's the best way to learn. It's easy to write it on the board but when you're really doing it and making mistakes and seeing it on film, then you can come further."

The live scrimmaging, coupled with an offense-defense scrimmage rather than a typical spring game, helped provide more learning experiences for the Buckeyes.

"We didn't sit around and do a little bit here and a little bit there," Brewster said. "We were taking live reps every day. We did a couple jersey scrimmages a week, to be honest, but that's what you've got to do when you have young guys. You learn from your mistakes. It took me a thousand mistakes before I knew the offense like the back of my hand. Taking all those live reps, you can really teach the guys what they need to do. It was hard at times but we stuck through it and we got better."

Near the midway point of spring practice, Tressel said he liked the growth displayed across the board.

"We think spring practice is important," he said. "Most coaches feel as if their spring is going pretty well because guys are making mistakes, they're getting coached, they're seeing them respond after that and grow a little bit.

"We always talk about the fact that you can't win the championship in the spring but you can lose it if you don't progress to the level that you need to do so in 15 practices. We all have the same rules. The amount of progress that you need to make in each of those situations is huge."

That attitude was reflected by defensive lineman Nathan Williams, who said the fact that the team would be missing key players when the 2011 season begins did not impact the spring preparations.

"I guess you could say that I've thought about it, but what am I going to do? All I can do is continue being a leader and leading by example to these guys and take it day by day," he said. "I'll hope for the best.

"We always do a good job of handling adversity, so it's just one of those things you've got to deal with. Hopefully it's a positive at the end of the season."

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