While it isn't exactly fall camp, the Ohio State football team is getting back to the basics ahead of its matchup against Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
The Buckeyes opened bowl practice Tuesday and even before Ohio State hit the field to prepare for the Tigers, head coach Urban Meyer said his team would be working on fundamentals before game prep begins.
"It will be full fundamentals this next week. We have two or three practices this week, full fundamentals. Then the next week will be preliminary game plan, and then as we get around Christmastime, game plan goes in, then you're in game week," Meyer said Sunday after the announcement that OSU had made the College Football Playoff. "The last thing you want to do is give guys things to work on that we're not going to do. So it's going to be hard, hard fundamentals, which we have a lot of work to do in certain areas. Then preliminary game plan, then game plan."
After its first bowl practice, many Buckeyes said practice was just as intense as a fall camp practice as Ohio State prepares for its second appearance in three years in the CFP. Defensive end Sam Hubbard said Meyer is reminding his players of what they are up against with the tough practices ahead of the semifinal showdown.
"Today was our first bowl practice, we're full go. As you can see everybody is pretty warn out, we went hard," Hubbard said. "Coach Meyer said he guarantees no other team practiced like we did today and I'm pretty sure that's true."
Redshirt-senior Pat Elflein has been through his far share of bowl practices, including the 2013 bowl season in which Ohio State prepared to take on Clemson in the Orange Bowl. He said that bowl practices can be especially helpful for young players who are still developing both mentally and physically.
"If you get more reps at something, you are going to get better at it," Elflein said. "This is a good time for young guys to take extra reps and develop. We definitely take advantage of it. We have 24 days to be nine units strong."
Elflein himself has some preparing to do off the field. After practice, he was coached up by an Ohio State spokesman on what to wear ahead of the College Football Awards Show. Elflein is a finalist for the Rimington Award, which is given annually to the best center in major college football.
The Buckeyes and Tigers are set to play for a spot in the national title game Dec. 31 at 7 p.m. in Glendale, Ariz.