Through it all, members of the Ohio State coaching staff do their best to try to shake things up. For example, Tuesday's practice concluded with the "Maize and Blue" drill, a period in which the Buckeye players are reminded to focus on what it takes to beat rival Michigan by going through a period of conditioning and fundamental exercises.
Oh, and with a thumping sound system now installed at the new Harmon Family Football Practice Park, there was a new twist – the five-minute period was given a soundtrack of Michigan's fight song "The Victors" blaring at ear-splitting levels.
As soon as Jim Tressel announced the drill at the top of his lungs, players and coaches scattered in different directions of the two artificial turf fields. The most amusing sight included offensive line coach Jim Bollman sitting in the chair of the team's new blocking sled, face showing a slight grin, as he directed his charges to push the sled back and forth across one end zone.
"It means a lot," safety Jermale Hines said. "You just go hard, work on your techniques. You work on ball drills and things like that, basically just to remind you of how big that game is up north."
That drill came at the conclusion of 11-on-11 scrimmaging, which traditionally takes up the second half of each Buckeye practice. During those times, the Buckeyes are actually playing football, lining up the top defense against the top offense, the twos against the twos and the threes against the threes.
Hines said that's the best part of the day for a player like himself.
"My favorite part of practice I look forward to is when we go team," he said. "We start probably about period 13 and from there on. I look forward to that to compete with the offense, better myself, my techniques, things like that."
During those periods, the coaches also do their best to work on certain game situations, such as important downs and distances or from a certain yard line. The Buckeyes worked on goal-line drills for each of the past two Tuesdays when the media was present, another part Hines singled out as enjoyable.
"I sort of take goal-line to heart because I think you have to be real tough to stop somebody on the goal line, in short yardage," he said. "Those are the ones we really take to heart because you have to have toughness, and that's where the toughness of our team comes from."
The Buckeyes also worked on a shortened two-minute drill Tuesday, as the ball was placed for second down at the defense's 40-yard line with 11 seconds left on the clock and each team holding a timeout. The first team couldn't move the ball thanks to two incompletions thrown by Terrelle Pryor, and from there freshman kicker Drew Basil missed a 58-yard field goal.
The second unit fared a little better, earning enough yardage to give Basil a 50-yarder he made. The third team also gained little yardage, but Basil split the uprights with a 56-yarder sure to give him confidence.
The first-team offense has fared better when Tressel has declared "the last play in the world" in each of the last two sessions open to media. A week ago with the ball placed at the 15, Pryor was flushed right from the pocket and fired a BB between defenders – even glancing the hand of Hines – to receiver DeVier Posey in the end zone.
This week, Hines was again victimized, committing one of two defensive pass interference penalties on consecutive plays that gave the offense the ball on the 2, and Pryor evaded a blitz from Tyler Moeller and rolled left to score a touchdown on the next play.
While those portions of practice test the competitiveness of each unit, linebacker Brian Rolle had his own drill he likes the most.
"I like going on inside drill where it's basically all run plays," he said. "That's where you get to see how physical you really are, how you fare against the offensive line. Rather than a pass here, run here, you get run play after run play after run play. That's the part of practice I love, just to be physical."
Not much love was shown for the beginning periods of practice that include stretching and fundamental work at each position, but senior Aaron Gant said any part of practice that included his teammates was worth it.
"Just being together with the team and just competing," he said. "Competing is always fun."
"I love the game of football," Hines added. "To come out here every day, I actually look forward to trying to better myself daily."