Preparation Meyer's Key To MSU Game

When speaking Monday, Urban Meyer said preparation will be Ohio State's key to victory this weekend against Michigan State. But what does that mean? For the players, it's a balance between embracing the game without changing up too many things.

Joshua Perry was asked a variety of questions by the media when he spoke Monday afternoon, some serious and some more lighthearted (yes, team members are allowed to wear green this week).

What was he doing before that?

“I was just in there watching film,” he said. “So…”

So was he upset that he had to take 15 minutes of his day to talk to the media, time that maybe could have been spent, say, preparing for this weekend’s huge clash with No. 8 Michigan State?

“Nah,” he said with a chuckle.

Earlier in the day, though, head coach Urban Meyer made it clear what he thinks one of the key differences will be when the Buckeyes and Spartans renew acquaintances in East Lansing.

“I hope the culture is here at Ohio State that the most prepared team will win, not the most interviews, not the most conversations you have,” the head coach said. “So the mentality that we want to have is we want to really work hard Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, to get ready for the game at 8:00 Saturday night.”

So what exactly does that mean? It means striking a balance between not getting too high or too low, not changing too much or putting too much focus on a game that will go a long way toward determining this year’s Big Ten Championship Game entrants and the College Football Playoff field.

Everyone knows it, too, so the Buckeyes are on high alert as far as preparation goes. But at the same time, it’s not like the team doesn’t take each game seriously as well. Changing too much of the routine for a winning team can be a change that hurts the team in the long run.

“It does feel a little different and I think that’s good,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “This isn’t just another game, and it would be foolish for us with the world that these young guys live in to say, ‘Hey, this is just another game and that everybody cares about this game the same as when you line up and play Kent State.’ That’s not true. We all know it’s not true and we all know that at midnight Saturday night somebody is going to have a big time advantage in the Big Ten East and that goes towards a lot of our goals, what we’ve set out to do and accomplish by the end of the season.

“But you have to manage, there are a lot of young guys and one thing that young guys do not do is play well when they’re tight. So you have to manage the enormity of the game, what’s at stake when the game is over, but yet make sure your guys are well prepared enough to where they don’t play tight.”

The team made no changes to its usual practice schedule, staging a short practice on Sunday before giving the team Monday off, something Meyer said was especially important given the fact MSU is coming off an open week.

Practices were held yesterday and will also take place this afternoon and Thursday afternoon before the team travels to East Lansing on Friday. The team will have a lot of time to kill Saturday, with meetings interspersed with some free time at the team hotel.

As for whether there would be extra film work or more time around the facility, Perry again reiterated there were no major plans to totally change things up.

“It means that guys who have the really good routines of getting in the film room and doing that whole thing need to keep up with their routine, and then maybe some of the younger guys get them going, just make sure that they’re taking care of all their business,” Perry said. “Does that mean watching extra film? There’s actually a point where you can watch as much film as you can put on, but it’s not going to help if you don’t know what you’re looking at.

“It means being efficient about things, too. It means taking care of your body, it means getting sleep, it means taking care of the academics and it means having a clear mind.”

Defensive lineman Michael Bennett noted that the team usually has 24 hours to enjoy a win but had a “little less than 24 hours” this week. So there’s that little extra edge to the proceedings, but Bennett made sure he pointed out the plan isn’t to change too much, especially as the Buckeyes have put together a six-game winning streak.

In other words, it’s worker smarter, not harder this week to make sure everyone is ready by the time the ball is in the air on a chilly night in Michigan.

“The whole key, I don't mean to keep going back to this, but the only thing that matters is when the foot hits the ball at 8:00 that night that our guys are mentally and physically ready to rock and roll because it's going to be a rugged game,” Meyer said.

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