After putting the pedal to the metal to complete “The Chase,” the Ohio State football team moved straight into “The Grind.”
But as the Buckeyes completed practice Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center — just their third since winning the National Championship — coach Urban Meyer said it might be time to pump the breaks. Meyer said OSU is monitoring the reps of certain players, leading to less cohesiveness on the practice field.
“That’s why sometimes it looks really bad, and today it was not a pleasant one,” Meyer said Tuesday. “We’re not gonna blame players or coaches yet. That’s coming, though, if you don’t get better.”
The Buckeyes played 15 games — winning all but one — in 2014-15, marking the first time a collegiate team had played more than 14 times in a season. But game reps aside, OSU is monitoring “competitive reps” players get in practice, Meyer said.
The fourth-year OSU coach said senior offensive lineman Taylor Decker has had more than 2,000 live reps in his career, and named off redshirt-junior offensive lineman Pat Elflein, redshirt-senior tight end Nick Vannett, senior linebacker Joshua Perry, redshirt-junior safety Tyvis Powell and junior defensive lineman Joey Bosa as other high-rep players.
While Meyer didn’t name any of those players among the injured Buckeyes, OSU has learned that at least four players would no longer be able to play football because of past injuries since the beginning of 2015. With linebackers Devan Bogard and Trey Johnson, safety Ron Tanner and cornerback Armani Reeves done for good, the Buckeyes are being careful with other injured players in practice.
Redshirt-senior quarterback Braxton Miller has been pulled back in practice, Meyer said, but only for precautionary reasons.
Meyer added that the trainers are being very cautious with junior running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has a bone graft in his wrist. Along with Miller and Elliott, Meyer said senior offensive lineman Jacoby Boren and junior H-back Dontre Wilson are both still working back from injuries.
“Jacoby’s had several things, but I don’t see any Band-Aids on him any more, so he’s getting close,” Meyer said. “Dontre has a broken foot, pin’s out; I saw him running in the water the other day.”
But among the players being held back, Meyer said he’s been surprised to see the progress of yet another injured quarterback — redshirt-sophomore J.T. Barrett.
“J.T. is doing good, he’s doing more,” Meyer said. “I thought he would be much more limited but he’s getting every mini field and 7-on-7 rep.”
As more experienced players are given a bit of a break and younger players earn more reps, Meyer said he wasn’t pleased with Tuesday’s showing. With that in mind, the Buckeyes have some time to prepare before taking the field against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va.
“It wasn’t a great day,” Meyer said. “But it’s spring practice.”