Preparations for the 123rd season of Ohio State football have begun.
The first campaign under new head coach Urban Meyer began in the early morning hours Friday when returning players had their first practice of the preseason. Included among those players were defensive lineman Garrett Goebel, tailback Carlos Hyde, quarterback Braxton Miller and cornerback Bradley Roby – each of whom met with the media at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center after practice. The freshmen are scheduled to have their own practice this evening.
“It was pretty good,” said Roby, a sophomore. “It was our first time out there in a while, so everybody had to get the rust off a little bit. But it was good. It was high-paced, and it was a lot of fun actually. I look forward to the rest of the practices we have.”
Ohio State will hold 29 practices leading up to the Buckeyes’ Sept. 1 season opener vs. Miami (Ohio). Until then, the Buckeyes will work on mastering the Meyer spread offense as best it can, while the defense will work on improving on an up-and-down season on that side of the football.
For Roby, the first practice was a good first step.
“I feel like it was more crisp today,” he said. “Even though it was the first day, I feel like everybody knew what they were doing, and we were executing plays on defense and offense.”
Goebel agreed, calling the initial practice “intense.”
“You could tell that guys definitely knew what they were doing,” he said. “I haven’t watched the film yet, but it didn’t seem like there were a lot of mental mistakes. That’s always good.”
The 2011 season was a rare one for Ohio State – and not in a good way. The Buckeyes finished 6-7, the program’s first losing season since 1988, and dealt with some growing pains under then-freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. The product of Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne was up extra early Friday and eager to get his sophomore season started.
“I feel great getting back to football again,” Miller said. “I’m ready for the season.”
Miller and Hyde were happy with the look of the offense on the first day of practice.
“The offense came out executing,” Hyde said. “We had a better feel (than in spring). ... Today we just felt good. We came out executing against the defense. We were looking pretty sharp out there.”
Ohio State faces a postseason ban this fall, but the players each said it will not affect their preparations. Nor will it dampen their excitement for the upcoming season.
“We’re a hungry team,” Roby said. “We’re an ambitious team. We’re going to go out there and try to win every single game. It’s as simple as that. This is a redemption year. We know last year we didn’t have that good of a year, so this year we’re going to come out and show everybody why we’re Ohio State.”