The Ohio State football team is turning the page on its bye week, while trying to keep the same intensity and focus as it prepares for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Coach Urban Meyer said Monday that the Buckeyes used the time off to their advantage, and mostly took the break to develop young talent.
“We’re still trying to finalize the final five or the starting five for the offensive line, and they had to get better,” Meyer said. “And then obviously on defense, we have some new players there as well, so more game reps than we’ve ever done on a bye week.”
Meyer said two offensive players in particular stood out during the week off.
“The guy that’s improved a little bit is (redshirt-junior) Chase Farris, and he’s the backup right tackle. And if he’s one of the top five, then he shouldn’t be the backup right tackle, he should be the starting right guard,” Meyer said.
“(Another) guy that’s made a big jump start last week was (redshirt-junior Antonio Underwood). We used him last week when (former OSU player) Chad Lindsay stepped away because of injuries. So it’s in flux a little bit, but the positive is there are very capable personnel available to us.”
Meyer also said that he and his staff approached this bye week in a different way because of the amount of young players on this year’s team.
“We utilized it. We did a lot different — we operated a lot differently this bye week than we have in the past. We practiced a lot of game reps,” Meyer said.
Game reps during a week of practice usually involve putting the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, something the Buckeyes did more than usual during their off week.
“When you go out and practice, you got some time and you can go ones against ones in 11-on-11 drills or you go inside drills … guys just get amped up to do that,” junior linebacker Joshua Perry said Monday. “When you have a team that loves to play ball, and you got young guys who got a chip on their shoulder and want to get better, you will go into a bye week and have some good practices.”
Tight ends coach Tim Hinton said he was impressed with how the Buckeyes handled their week off, particularly how hard they practiced.
“The bye week practices were really, really outstanding. When you look at the volume of work that we got done in that bye week practice, the three we had last week, they were excellent,” Hinton said Monday. “Surprisingly pleased at how well each day went.”
Hinton added that the bye week practices showed him that the Buckeyes have the will to get better each week whether they’re preparing for a game or not.
“The bottom line is, we have expectations at Ohio State. There’s a lot of people across the country (who) have expectations of Ohio State and our guys know those,” he said. “They know there is only one way to be really, really good at what you do and that is to practice really hard.”
Perry, who leads the team in total tackles with 26, said he and his OSU teammates used the bye week to improve, instead of taking time off.
“I think it is a hunger to get better. I think guys just really like playing ball around here,” he said.
The hunger will be evident Saturday, he said, as the Buckeyes are trying to win their first home night game against a non-conference opponent since defeating the Marshall Thundering Herd 45-7 Sept.2, 2010 on a Thursday night. That game has since been vacated following the “tatoo-gate” scandal.
“Last time we were out in the ‘Shoe for a night game, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Perry said, referencing OSU’s 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6. “We have to go back out there to prove what we can do.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.