Since the end of last season, OSU coach Urban Meyer has been waiting for his team to step up and replace those who departed for the NFL. While some Buckeyes have fulfilled that request and claimed spots on the depth chart, Meyer is still searching for improvement on all nine units ahead of the first game on Sept. 3.
“We’re not there yet,” Meyer said.
Ohio State is a little more than two weeks into practice and has fewer than two weeks until its first game against one of Meyer’s former teams, the Bowling Green Falcons. Fall camp has officially ended, and Meyer has begun to narrow down his personnel.
On Monday, he named redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard as a starter and said that if junior weak-side linebacker Dante Booker and redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber each have another week showing progress, both will get the call as starters.
But Meyer made it clear that some guys need to elevate their own performances, specifically mentioning the offensive line. He said that the two-deep on the unit would not be prepared to enter a game situation.
“It’s all about getting game-ready and that’s what this week is all about,” Meyer said. “Because next week you’re installing gameplans.”
At practice, each coach has his own chart of players with criteria to determine if each one is game ready. The chart documents the amount of reps each player takes and the number of practices in which the player has been involved.
Before each practice, Meyer sits down with his coaches to go over the players at the top and near the top of the depth chart. When a player is deemed game ready, that player receives a green check next to his name. Meyer said that none of his guys will see playing time until the player receives that distinction.
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith said that the skills necessary to be game ready are different for every member of the team. Smith wants to have six receivers available at all times, so the pressure is on his crew to be game ready.
“I can’t stamp everybody as game-ready but there are a couple guys that are really close,” Smith said. “They’re really responding to coaching and playing at a high level right now.”
Meyer said that he has had situations with past teams in which players were just not good enough to play at the season’s beginning. For the 2016 Buckeyes, Meyer said that’s not the case. He’s confident in the talent his team possesses. It just comes down to reps, scheme and other factors.
“(Being game-ready) is going to be so critical this year — more than ever with a young team,” Meyer said. “It’s got to be clear to them what you got to do to get ready.”