Practice Notes - 8/20

The Texas Tech game is just days away... how's the team looking? Dave Biddle was at practice and came back with some thoughts.

The tempo at practice today was great, probably the fastest it's been all camp. You can definitely tell it's game week.

Chris Vance and Quinn Pitcock did practice today. The two of them are suspended for the Texas Tech game, as are Redgie Arden and Branden Joe. Nothing specific is being released about the Vance situation.

Left guard Adrien Clarke continues to look a little better each time out. Clarke still doesn't belong in the "nimble" category, but it is beginning to look like he will be able to contribute this year. He's not ready yet, Kenny Peterson dominated him in one-on-one drills today, but at least Clarke is moving in the right direction.

The starting offensive line against Texas Tech will look like this (same it's been the last two weeks): LT: Ivan Douglas, LG: Mike Stafford, C: Alex Stepanovich, RG: Bryce Bishop, RT: Shane Olivea… Rob Sims and Nick Mangold are the only true freshmen that have cracked the two-deep on the O-line. 

The Buckeye defense obviously spent a lot of time working against the spread today. And "spread" also describes the way the TT offensive linemen line up. There is a large space in between each of the linemen and the tight end lines up even more spaced out… The scout team (led by quarterback Troy Smith) grilled the defense today with a lot of quick passes. We are talking snap, wait one second (tops), and the ball is gone. If Kliff Kingsbury gets rid of the ball this quickly, it is going to be very hard to get any sacks on him… By the way, here's an interesting tidbit about last year's Red Raider squad: Running back Ricky Williams, who has since graduated, led the team in rushing yards (756), touchdowns (17) and pass receptions (96). He was also second on the team in receiving yards (713). No one in Scarlet and Gray is going to miss seeing him in the Horseshoe on Saturday.

EJ Underwood is making his move at cornerback. Dustin Fox and Harlen Jacobs lined up as the starters today (Rich McNutt was in and out as usual with his ankle problem), but Underwood was subbing in with the first-team a lot. A lot of DBs will be used on Saturday and Underwood appears to have jumped ahead of Bobby Britton and Chris Conwell… Free safety Will Allen was also working with the ones today in nickel and dime situations. In other words, he was working with the ones all day. The Buckeyes know they are going to be in nickel and dime packages against Texas Tech 99 percent of the time, so that's what they practiced today. This means that only two linebackers will be on the field at the same time. Matt Wilhelm, Cie Grant and Rob Reynolds will rotate, along with a couple of the younger guys.

The defensive line continues to look like the strength of the team, now it's just a question of how quickly they can get to Kingsbury. Darrion Scott was looking especially good today. Not enough is made of Scott's recovery from shoulder surgery last spring. He is a huge part of this talented D-line and it is nice to see that the shoulder has healed.

Jesse Kline, who was named the starter at fullback, has curiously left the team. He is expected to meet with Jim Tressel sometime tonight, or tomorrow. Can't imagine what happened there, but Kline skipped practice today and members of the OSU sports information department were able to confirm that he has left the team. Maybe Kline wanted to play tailback? Can't think of any other reason why he would quit the team the day he was named a starter.

Ryan Hamby is clearly the backup at tight end. In fact, Hamby was in there a lot with the ones today as they worked with a lot of two tight end sets.

Maurice Clarett is looking more and more like the starter at tailback. He is getting the majority of reps with the first-team, but it's pretty obvious that both Clarett and Maurice Hall are going to get plenty of carries this year… Lydell Ross is also back at full strength, but has slipped to third team. This should be an interesting battle all season and you have to love the competition here. It will only make all three of these guys better.

One final note: If you are going to the game on Saturday, BE LOUD! Whatever you think is loud, be about three times as loud as that. Tech likes to audible at the line of scrimmage, just like Northwestern, so make it as difficult as possible on them.

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