Meyer said after the Kent State game that the type of team he has dictates how he approaches an open week and that this version of the Buckeyes needed game reps. That’s what they got in physical practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week.
“We got a bye week, we utilized it,” Meyer said. “We did a lot different, we operated a lot differently this bye week than we have in the past … more game reps than we've ever done on a bye week.”
Game repetitions, 11 on 11 drills between the team’s best players, are part of most every practice, but during the Buckeyes hiatus from the Horseshoe they were emphasized more than usual.
The youth of the team is certainly part of the reason for the extra work as a first-year starting quarterback is working behind a rebuilt offensive line for Ohio State while on the other side of the ball has three sophomores starting in the secondary. But it is also because that type of practice just seems to work for this group of players, tight ends and fullbacks coach Tim Hinton said.
One day last week Ohio State had a 10-minute session of 11 on 11 scheduled, but because it was going so well Meyer let it extend for 40 minutes, Hinton said, forgoing some other planned sessions of practice for game repetitions.
“This team when you go to practice just seems to really light up when you go competition,” Hinton said. “When you go 11 on 11 with this football team they’re excited, they love to play the game.” “You can see improvement by going 11 on 11 and that’s really what practice is for.”
Linebacker Joshua Perry said that while every team should love those game simulations, this year’s Buckeyes particularly seem to relish it.
“I think it’s a hunger to get better but I think guys just really like playing ball around here so when you go out in practice and you’ve got some time and you can go ones against ones in 11 on 11 drills or you go inside drills where you’ve got good on good, I think guys just get amped up to do that,” he said. “When you have a team that loves to play ball and you’ve got young guys who’ve got a chip on their shoulder and want to get better you’ll go out there on a bye week and have good practices.”
Coaches and players were all adamant that the three practices last week were good and did their job in preparing them for their tilt with the Bearcats.
“There is only one way to be really really good at what you do and that is to practice at it really really hard,” Hinton said. “I was surprisingly pleased in how well each day went. Bye weeks sometimes are a little temperamental. They’ll go really well one day and then the next day it won’t be as good. I thought we had three consecutive high energy, good physical practices.”