First, let’s get caught up from Saturday’s game. The two most interesting points the players made following their win over Colorado were that 1) Braxton Miller really benefited from the fact that he was able to get into a rhythm and 2) The Buckeyes substituted quite a bit in their game. Although some fans and analysts saw that as a sign that Ohio State was still searching for answers and trying to determine their best personnel, players on both side of the ball said the substitution patterns actually gave them a strategic advantage.
Those points were echoed again today, but of course, the focus this afternoon was mostly on the Buckeyes’ upcoming opponent: Michigan State.
This is not only the first Big Ten game the Bucks will play under the new divisional format, it’s also the first league game of the Fickell era. “It’s a big one. Our guys understand that. They’re not blind. They can walk in every day and see the schedule on the board,” said the OSU head man. “I mean, there’s definitely a heightened awareness.”
Fickell named Nate Oliver, Nate Ebner and Jordan Hall his game captains for the week. The fact that Hall is leading the team, even though he served a suspension for NCAA rules violations this season, could be a precedent for the seniors who will be reinstated following the Michigan State game.
Hall, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing Boom Herron serve as a captain this year. The running back praised Herron’s leadership and said his return would be very exciting for him personally and for the team. That’s pretty unselfish praise considering Hall will certainly be sharing playing time with Herron.
The players we spoke to after practice today indicated the so-called Tattoo-Gate players are still working mostly with the scout team.
“We’ve had a plan all along. Those guys are still doing what we’ve asked them to do. When they’re able to go, we’ll get them back into the mix,” said Fickell of eventually reintegrating the suspended players.
Other news and notes from today’s media scrum:
- Fickell said he was unsure if Nathan Williams (knee) or Philly Brown (ankle) would be able to play Saturday. The players we spoke to said Brown was working out with the team this afternoon, but it sounded as if his involvement was limited.
- Linebacker Andrew Sweat said he was battling first knee and then back injuries this season. “This is the first time that I’d say I was 100 percent.”
- Speaking of linebackers, Fickell has moved Curtis Grant from Mike to Sam LB. He expects Grant to be more of a factor moving forward especially on special teams.
- Special teams standout Nate Oliver said he and his teammates have watched the video of Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins delivering a rousing speech at Big Ten Media Day this summer. This was apparently done to show Ohio State’s players what kind of a leader Cousins is.