Buckeyes Practice Under The Lights

As Ohio State prepares for the 2008 season, the Buckeyes continued what has become an annual tradition by hosting an open practice underneath the lights at Ohio Stadium. Find out how it went and why there were no autographs this time around in this update.

Terrelle Pryor took the snap from center, dropped back and surveyed the field. Reading the defensive backs, the freshman quarterback looked from his left to his right before seeing wide receiver Grant Schwartz break free.

Pryor released a perfect spiral, hitting Schwartz between the coverage and picking up a 15-yard gain in the process.

Now, if only that sight is repeated August 30 when the Buckeyes actually have a game, Ohio State will be in great shape.

A small yet dedicated crowd gathered Monday night at Ohio Stadium to see the Buckeyes practice under the lights. Head coach Jim Tressel promised no tricks and no revealing looks into what might go into the 2008 Buckeyes, but fans not dismayed by the lack of an autograph session still got the first public look at what this year's team will look like.

But again, the team that takes to the field against Youngstown State might not look much like the team on display in Ohio Stadium.

"We're about two-thirds of the way through preseason camp and sometimes you need a little burst of adrenaline," Tressel said. "When you get to Ohio Stadium, it gives you a natural burst and then when you get some folks out here it gives you a natural burst. We'll just keep working on the fundamentals. Nothing different than what we've been working on, but sometimes it's nice just to feel the energy."

Two seasons ago, the Buckeyes held a similar practice under the lights. Preceded by an autograph session, the team that entered the year as the No. 1 team in the country welcomed a crowd that stretched into the upper deck of the Horseshoe. The event was repeated for the 2007 season, but a smaller crowd was blamed on having to postpone the event due to rain.

This year, there was no autograph session largely due to the fact that the program had seen items appear on eBay.com shortly thereafter.

"Coach (Earle) Bruce always used to tell us that abuse brings control," Tressel said. "Some people come and all of a sudden it becomes an eBay thing and the people who are here with their youngster that would love to have a James Laurinaitis signature get nudged out of the way by folks trying to use James' signature for their own gain."

However, university officials still estimated the crowd at 12,000.

The event resembled a game more and more as the night progressed. The OSU marching band appeared during the second half of practice and the Buckeyes scrimmaged with the first-team offense going against the first-team defense and so forth. It ended, fittingly, with the football team gathering in front of the south stands to sing "Carmen Ohio" along with the band.

Tressel cautioned against reading much into what the Buckeyes display during the scrimmage, but later said he was reassuring offensive coordinator Jim Bollman – who apparently scripted the practice – that he was not giving away too much.

"Like I told (Bollman) tonight before we were coming as he was wondering, ‘Oh, am I doing too much?' I said, ‘Hey if they can figure it out, that'll be just fine. They have to figure out when you're going to do it,' " Tressel said.

The Buckeyes initially began having the open night practices in part because they had been struggling in night contests, Tressel said. Now it's a chance for fans who don't regularly get to see OSU up close and personal to do just that.

"Two or three years ago when we were trying to figure out why we weren't doing as good at night, we thought, ‘Oh, maybe we should be practicing at night or something,' " Tressel said. "We started doing it, and all of a sudden we found out the fans liked coming. They might not show up at 2 o'clock. You add one thing to another, and it turns into a nice thing."

It also afforded a better view of which players are still battling injuries. Freshman offensive lineman Mike Adams is back doing drills after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, while senior guard Kyle Mitchum is out for an extended period of time after having a still-healing foot stepped on in practice. He was wearing a walking boot on his left foot.

In addition, senior wideout Brian Robiskie and sophomore tailback Brandon Saine are both progressing from injuries and should be fully healthy by next week, Tressel said.

When things ended right around 9:30, the fans headed home into the night as the Buckeyes headed for the buses. They will all be back in 12 days, and in greater numbers.

But for those that think they might have gained a little more insight into their favorite team, Tressel offered caution.

"Our coaches who work hard on what we're trying to prepare I think would rather not have their game plans out there kicked around until they get to showcase them," he said.

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