With the season opener against Cincinnati a little more than a week away, Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter is ready to go. In fact, he would like to play a game this weekend.
"I can't wait man," Carpenter said. "This seems like it's been a long offseason and I just want to get out there and hit some different colored helmets and just get after it."
The Bearcats have given the Buckeyes all they could handle the last two occasions they've met. Carpenter says no one is taking UC lightly.
"Cincinnati always has some athletes," he said. "I know Coach (Mark) Dantonio will have them ready to play. My brother (Jon) goes down there and I've been talking to him and I know camp's been hard. Coach Dantonio has been working them hard. Everyone is wondering what they're going to throw at us."
In addition to seeing his brother on the opposing sidelines, Carpenter will also have to face his former mentor in Dantonio.
"Yeah, it's going to be weird," Carpenter said. "I was really close to him when he left. All of us have a lot of respect for him. He's a solid coach. He makes good players and he's going to be pushing his guys and will have them ready to go."
Dantonio obviously knows a lot about OSU's defensive players. He knows what they do well and what they need to improve on.
"We've tried to change some things up," Carpenter said. "Anytime a coach leaves, they know a lot of the mental aspects of the players they coached. He kind of had that here when we played Michigan State. So, he's going to know our strengths and some of our weaknesses, but overall, everyone has tried to improve and we're just going to do the best we can."
New OSU defensive coordinator Mark Snyder will be out to prove that the Buckeyes will be fine without Dantonio. And Dantonio has something to prove as well.
"Most definitely," Carpenter said. "Coach Snyder is following in Coach Dantonio's footsteps. He's the coordinator now. We've been so good for the past two years and he's going to have a lot to prove. And Coach Dantonio has taken over a UC program on the rise. I think they play Ohio State three out of the next four years, so he's got a lot to show Coach Tressel that he can get the job done as a head coach as well."
One difference between Snyder and Dantonio is that Snyder will call the game from the sideline this year. Carpenter does not think it's a big deal whether the coach is in the press box, or on the field.
"Some coaches are better in the box and some are better on the field - it's just different personalities," he said. "Coach Dantonio is great at analyzing defenses and up in the box he can see everything play out. But Coach Snyder is good at being down on the field and communicating with players."
Snyder is a fiery coach that likes to look at his players' eyes on the sidelines. Carpenter says communication between the coaches and players is important during the game. Sometimes the message isn't sent correctly from the press box, or there might be technical difficulties. This is one benefit of being on the field.
"Yeah, when you're calling blitzes and coverages and things like that (communication is) important," Carpenter said. "You don't necessarily call blitzes, you call players (to blitz). If a guy's hot, if he's locking them down on coverages, you keep doing that with him. If our D-line is doing well, we'll call some stuff with them, depending on who's hot. So, it's not so much calling what you can do to attack that scheme, but calling players to make plays."
Switching to offense for a moment, Carpenter has noticed an improved version of tailback Lydell Ross so far in camp.
"Guys usually coming into their senior year, they realize their time is running short at Ohio State," Carpenter said. "He's got to come in now and show what he can do, or his time is going to pass by. Coming out this year, he's been running really hard, so I think he's going to have a good senior year."
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Carpenter turned in a good sophomore season in 2003. However, playing behind Rob Reynolds, he started just one game. Even with spot duty, Carpenter finished ninth on the team with 37 tackles, fifth on the team with 6.5 tackles-for-loss and second on the squad with 4.5 sacks.
"I feel like I played OK last year," he said. "There are so many things I can be better at and hopefully with more playing time I can show what I've got and be a big part of this defense."