Cody Cousino / The Lantern
For the Ohio State football team, Saturday’s Spring Game begins early Thursday morning.
It will start at 6 a.m., to be precise.
In his first spring as the Buckeyes’ coach, Urban Meyer said the football program – even the athletic trainers and secretaries – will be divided into two teams.
And though Meyer said he wants to see how his team performs in a gameday-type atmosphere, he wants to have fun with it.
“I’ve been fortunate to coach in some of these big spring-game atmospheres and there’s nothing like it, it’s priceless,” he said.
Meyer said it’s an experience that’s hard to replicate.
“You can’t simulate that indoors or out at the practice field, that performance in the stadium in front of a big crowd. (I’m) really anxious to see them do it,” he said.
Heading into Saturday, though, Meyer wasn’t shy about admitting that Wednesday’s practice was far from the Buckeyes’ best.
“If you watched today’s practice … it wasn’t like last Wednesday,” he said.
Rather than a lack of effort on the players’ part, Meyer said fatigue has finally become a factor after 13 practices.
“Guys tried, I think they’re leg weary,” he said. “I think they’re beat up a little bit … the guys tried, no complaints about trying hard.”
It’s why Meyer said he’ll take what he saw Wednesday after a breakthrough practice on April 11.
“I’m OK with that. I get it,” he said. “Last Wednesday was big to come out and perform like they did. And they tried (today).”
Still, Meyer said he’s excited for Saturday, even though it will be a “very vanilla, throw heavy” scrimmage.
“I want to see some guys make plays, we’re not going to be running a lot of the quarterback because I know he can do that,” he said referring to rising sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. “I want to see him do the other stuff.”
That emphasis on the passing game, though, is dependent on whether “the elements will allow it,” Meyer said.
Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, about 60,000 tickets for the Spring Game have already been distributed and Meyer said he hopes that number continues to grow as Saturday nears.
“Oh, I hope it fills. Wouldn’t that be fun? Just come on out,” he said. “It’s what you expect out of Ohio State.”
An entirely filled Ohio Stadium would top OSU’S 2009 attendance record of 95,722.
And if Saturday’s open practice to OSU students is any indication, Meyer might have a fighting chance at breaking that record.
Even four days since more than 3,000 Buckeyes students, faculty and fans crowded into the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Meyer still gushed over the experience and the importance of connecting students to their football team.
“It was awesome. I mean with all the negative crap and stuff that you hear and read … you know what,” Meyer said. “I saw a bunch of students out there with their fellow classmates enjoying a great day of practice.”
Whether or not a similar atmosphere shapes up for the Spring Game remains to be seen, as dreary weather has notoriously been a thorn in the side concerning Spring Game attendance.
It won’t, however, change Meyer’s determination to put the ball in the air Saturday.
“The ball will be thrown a lot,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be caught a lot.”
Kickoff for Meyer’s first Spring Game is set for 1:30 p.m.