Life doesn’t stop for Ohio State football players when they get a week off, but it certainly slows down — especially for the upperclassmen.
Coming off a 52-24 win against Maryland on Saturday, the Buckeyes have a week off before returning to the field at Ohio Stadium on Oct. 18. Coach Urban Meyer said he is taking the week to give some younger players heavier reps, while lightening the workload for experienced starters.
“This (week) I am getting (freshman defensive lineman) Jalyn Holmes a million reps right now and some of the players have to get ready to go,” Meyer said Wednesday. “Some of them though — (senior defensive lineman Michael) Bennett, we have pulled off of him a little bit.”
Along with Bennett, Meyer said sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa is getting fewer game-style reps in practice this week.
Senior defensive lineman Steve Miller said the week off has been less intense than the Buckeyes’ first bye week of the season, and added it’s been a good chance to make sure some young players get the practice time they need.
“It’s been more laid-back for this break,” Miller said Wednesday. “Just trying to get some of the young guys ready.”
While the week off doesn’t mean the players can shut it down quite yet, the upcoming weekend without a game gives them a chance to get away.
“We don’t practice on Sunday night because I want them to get out of here,” Meyer said. “(Freshman linebacker) Raekwon McMillan I know is going home to see his mom. He has earned that right to go do that.”
McMillan played his high school football in Hinesville, Ga.
But if players choose not to head home, Meyer said he wants them to keep football on their mind.
“It is our second weekend (off). Some guys aren’t (going home) so maybe they will be over to coaches’ houses on Saturday and we are going to finalize plans,” he said. “I want them somewhere, if they are not going home, I want them around a coach.”
Miller said he’ll likely be on the list of players who don’t have to spend their weekend with one of the OSU coaches.
“I’m gonna probably go home, probably see my family and rest up,” Miller, a Canton, Ohio, native, said.
Even though he gets a chance to spend some extra time with his family, Miller said the bye week doesn’t necessarily come at a good time for the Buckeyes.
“It’s been strange, because it’s real early,” he said. “And we really aren’t that banged up yet, so it really (isn’t) that bad to be taking a break.”
OSU’s first bye week came after a 66-0 win against Kent State in its third game of the season. That win shifted the team’s momentum after a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech the week before. Coming out of that week off, the Buckeyes’ offense posted 710 yards against Cincinnati before routing the Terrapins for a third consecutive win.
Meyer said that first week off “came at the right time,” but added he doesn’t have the same feelings this time around.
“You could see we played pretty well afterwards,” he said. “This one, I don’t know. All I know is it remains to be seen. It is uncomfortable to be honest with you.”
Meyer said he has looked at past years, and there hasn’t been a time one of his teams has had two bye weeks so early in the season.
While his coach isn’t quite excited to be taking a break, junior offensive lineman Jacoby Boren said it hasn’t been all negative. Boren said he and others on the team have been fighting through minor injuries, so a week off can help them get healthy.
“I think it’s working right now, and we’ll see how everything else works out,” he said.
After the week off, the Buckeyes are scheduled to face Rutgers on Oct. 18 at Ohio Stadium to cap off homecoming week. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.