SvoNotebook: Scrimmage Is For Bragging Rights

The jersey scrimmage is always the biggest day in any practice session for the Ohio State football team, and this year's version takes place Saturday. Find out which Buckeye has guaranteed victory in the intrasquad event, then read notes on this year's "Hell Week" and who might be buying his teammates dinner in this edition of the SvoNotebook.

Many intrasquad scrimmages in sports end with one team dining on a catered, expensive meal while the other is stuck with hot dogs and the like.

Three years ago, former Ohio State offensive lineman Kirk Barton described the Buckeyes' jersey scrimmage as a different matter of food and drink.

"In the white (us offensive linemen) look like a bunch of big marshmallows running around," he said.

And after the offense won that spring '07 event to claim the coveted scarlet jerseys, Barton said, "Now we look like the Kool-Aid Guy. I'm going to draw a big smiley face on my stomach."

No quotes about this year's scrimmage – previewed here by Marcus Hartman and set to take place at noon Saturday in Ohio Stadium – can quite match the perspective provided by the loquacious Barton, but it's clear the offense vs. defense battle is still just as important among team members.

"You go out there, they're your teammates but not in between those lines when it's time to strap it on," safety Jermale Hines said. "We go out there and try to look at them as an opponent and take it to them."

As such, the trash talking already began Tuesday when always chatty linebacker Brian Rolle was given the floor.

"The offense wants the scarlet jerseys back, but I'm going to graduate with a scarlet jersey," said Rolle, who as a member of the defense is already wearing the threads thanks to a dominating win this spring. "Saturday is going to be a fun time. Guys in the locker room are talking about it, but in the end the defense is going to come out on top."

Rolle was asked if that counted as a guarantee, and he didn't back down.

"We're going to pull it out," he said. "We have to. We have to be confident. I'm sure the offense is going to say the same, but at the end of the day Saturday we're going to have fun out there and the defense is going to win."

The offense could not reply as only defensive seniors were available for interviews this week.

The defense has won the last three scrimmages leading back to the offense's win before the 2008 season. That victory was the offense's third in a row.

During the scrimmage, the first-team offense faces the No. 1 defense and so on down the line. The ball is placed at different lines of scrimmage to start each series, and there are no special teams plays except for field goals to conclude drives. The offense receives points for first downs, big plays and scoring points, while the defense receives points for three-and-outs, sacks, turnovers and touchdowns.

The scrimmage usually lasts around 150 plays. It is closed to the public but open to media, so check in the afternoon for results.

Hell Week Lite
Going into this week, some members of the Ohio State team referred to the week of practices starting Monday and running through two practices Friday in Xenia and Saturday's scrimmage as "Hell Week," but it wasn't quite as hellish as a year ago.

Before the 2009 season, the OSU seniors famously put out a mandate that all cell phones and electronic devices be banned so as to encourage bonding between team members.

This time around, players eased that request, and many Buckeye players have been seen tweeting during the week.

"Kind of, sort of," senior safety Aaron Gant said about a cell-phone ban. "We can have them sometimes. Sometimes we can't."

Rolle, meanwhile, said the name this year refers mostly to the conditions in which the Buckeyes are practicing this summer. High temperatures in Columbus have not dipped below 80 since camp started, and some days have reached into the 90s as the Buckeyes practice on their artificial turf fields.

"It's Hell Week in the sense that it's hot," Rolle said. "The sun, God must have had a plan this week for us with the sun."

So to put it simple, it's just Hotter Than Hell Week?

"Most definitely," Rolle said.

Picking Up The Check
It's not uncommon in football for a quarterback or running back to take his offensive linemen out to dinner after they pave the way for a standout performance.

Ohio State might have the same situation on defense this year.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa lauded the Buckeye defensive line, led by All-America candidate Cameron Heyward, on Tuesday, noting that those guys make his job easier by pressuring the quarterback.

"I'm going to take Cam out to dinner one of these days just to make sure his head is right and he can get me some interceptions and stuff," Chekwa said.

When a reporter noted that Heyward and his cohorts could make for an expensive date, Chekwa was ready with a quip.

"Oh yeah, I have the money saved," he said. "I have a private bank account for those guys."

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