Twelve months after packing Ohio Stadium with nearly 30,000 fans – many of whom went home empty – for an open night practice and autograph session, about one-fifth of that amount showed up for a similar even in the Horseshoe. A total of 5,500 fans attended the event, while just 2,500 showed for autographs.
Still, despite the smaller numbers of fans, who had to brave 90-degree weather and deal with an earlier event cancellation, head coach Jim Tressel seemed to be enjoying himself when meeting with the media beforehand.
"It was nice for the people to get a chance to be out on the field because they've heard so much about the new surface," Tressel said of the FieldTurf track the Buckeyes will play on for the first time. "It wasn't so nice that it was so hot, though. I felt bad for some of those people. There's going to be some sunburnt folks out there.
"These are great people to come and they're just so genuine. They might not get opportunities to be in here on Saturday afternoons all the time and just want a chance to meet our kids and just let you know they're Buckeyes and they're for us and they're anxious for the season. I think it's a neat event."
Ohio State will have three night games this season – at Purdue, Minnesota and Penn State, where the Buckeyes fell under the nights 17-10 during 2005 – and so the Buckeyes will have to get used to playing after twilight. Tressel also said that the event brings a certain amount of fun with it as well.
"One, it's a little bit of a monotony breaker," he said. "Two, we are going to play some evening games, so it just raises awareness of that. I think the kids like it. They all played high school football on Friday nights."
Tressel also dismissed any thoughts that the night practice, which came on the second-to-last day of preseason camp, would be less effective in front of an audience and after an hour-long autograph session.
"We designed the practice knowing that we were going to be sitting out," he said. "Maybe not 90 degrees, but sitting out and we'd have to get the kinks out a little bit. But our guys are sore and tired right now. I'm not sure that whether we sat another hour or not that it's going to change."
Before practice, Tressel and receivers coach Darrell Hazell cleared up a few things about a couple lingering injuries. Hazell called injuries to Albert Dukes and Devon Lyons "normal camp stuff," while Tressel said tailback Chris Wells is progressing well from an earlier rolled ankle.
"He's doing good," Tressel said.
Wells completed the individual drills but had a smaller presence in team work. Both Dukes and Lyons appeared to be practicing without issue.
The practice started with the usual stretching, followed by some special teams work. Aaron Pettrey was solid on field goals, a day after a tough kick scrimmage, while one kickoff saw Eugene Clifford blow up Anderson Russell short of the 20-yard line.
Hazell confirmed that Dane Sanzenbacher would be the third wide receiver if OSU started play today because of the injury to Ray Small. During one-on-one drills, Sanzenbacher lost classmate Donnie Evege on a post corner route for a long score. He later dropped a bullet of a pass while sitting in a zone.
About an hour and a half into the practice, the Ohio State marching band entered from the southeast ramp and performed for the crowd.
At the end of the practice, the teams took part in some 11-on-11 scrimmaging. One of the most impressive plays was a strike thrown by quarterback Todd Boeckman to Brian Robiskie on a 25-yard out pattern. Robiskie pulled in the laser in front of Chekwa just before going out of bounds. Brandon Saine spent one play lined up in a spot similar to where Ted Ginn Jr. used to lineup, and caught a pass behind him from Boeckman, then made a nice cut to evade Marcus Freeman. For more details on injuries and playing time, please see the "Ask The Insiders" message board.