Monday, August 20, 2012
Notes and quotes: Bucks done with camp
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The true answer won't come for more than a month.
The data Urban Meyer relies on year after year to gauge how successful a training camp was isn't available until four games are in the books, so the grades are still incomplete from the Ohio State coach for now.
But he wanted physical practices, and Meyer seemed pleased with the intensity the Buckeyes delivered. He also wanted a team that survived that style of play with its health intact, and after knocking on wood, Meyer appears to have got what he wanted there as well.
"Unbelievable," Meyer said after a workout on Monday evening. "I mean, the way we practiced and I don’t think we’ve lost a guy, have we?"
The only potential losses from the lineup for the opener on Sept. 1 already existed before camp, with Jordan Hall's foot injury and the surgically repaired knee of defensive end Nathan Williams currently looming as the only possible absences of significance.
The Buckeyes have dealt with a few minor health issues through camp, with contributors such as tight end Jeff Heuerman missing time with a tight hamstring and starting linebacker Ryan Shazier briefly on the shelf with an undisclosed ailment as well.
But aside from season-ending surgery for true freshman offensive lineman Joey O'Conner, a knee scope for reserve safety Zach Domicone and a hamstring injury for freshman wide receiver Frank Epitropoulos, the Buckeyes appear to have a full deck heading into the season.
And four weeks after it begins, Meyer will know if he should have pushed the Buckeyes even harder or dialed it back.
"The only thing I worry about is the health in the heat, you know, I’m scared to death of the heat," Meyer said. "We’ve been fortunate. We try to push them as hard as we possibly can, and how you evaluate that is just over the last 10 years how we do in the first four games. We’ve gone, I think we’re 39-1 or something like that in our first four games and we have really hard camps.
"Sometimes you play teams you’re better than, and sometimes you don’t. That’s how I try to evaluate every year if we’re going too hard, but we’re fine."
PASSING GRADE: Walking off the field, Meyer admitted he wasn't really aware of what the offense had just done.
But once he popped in the film of Saturday's closed scrimmage, there was clear evidence of the improvement he's been emphasizing in the Ohio State passing game. And while statistics have not been released publicly, Meyer tallied one up for Braxton Miller that surely validated his progress leading the attack at quarterback.
"He threw for 350 yards in the scrimmage, so he had a good day," Meyer said. "Really good day. I didn’t realize it until after the scrimmage.
"The area where we’re much improved is throwing and catching, much improved. We couldn’t have gone much the other way, but they are much improved. The receivers have stepped up."
They were clearly making the most of a lot of balls thrown their way from Miller in a session that Meyer indicated was largely the first-team offense against the second-team defense.
Corey "Philly" Brown was likely the biggest beneficiary after being designated as Ohio State's "No. 1 receiver right now" by Meyer, with Devin Smith apparently not far behind. But Jake Stoneburner, Michael Thomas and Nick Vannett also drew praise for their recent work by Meyer, who hasn't been shy in the past about criticizing his targets.
"I feel right now the offense will be fairly competent," Meyer said. "I can’t say great because I don’t see that yet. But I see competency, I see the ball being snapped correctly, I see an offensive line protecting and doing the right things and the skill [players] are starting to improve.
"It didn’t look that way for the first two weeks in the spring."
UP FOR GRABS: The Buckeyes didn't leave the scrimmage with a resolution at right tackle.
Their workout on Monday certainly didn't provide an answer either.
The other four spots on the offensive line are seemingly locked in for the opener against Miami (Ohio), but converted tight end Reid Fragel and freshman Taylor Decker are still jockeying for the fifth one -- and it appears neither did anything to win it during the latest practice session.
"We can’t name a starter right now," Meyer said. "... Right tackle has got to be a little better. They’re trying, but one at times looks like a freshman because he is and one looks like a guy that just moved from tight end.
"It’s fresh in my mind because they got slapped around a little bit today."
KLEIN TRIAL PUSHED BACK: Former Ohio State linebacker Storm Klein's trial date, originally scheduled for Monday, has been pushed back to Sept. 24, according to Franklin County Municipal Court documents.
The senior was dismissed from the team in July after being charged with domestic violence and assault for an alleged incident with the mother of his child.