Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer told the Columbus Dispatch he voluntarily cut the number of days spent tackling this fall, reducing it from four times a week to three times in the name of player safety. In addition, CBS reported that Meyer adjusted punt and kickoff drills to lessen injuries.
“You can’t simulate the game, the game situations, as often as maybe you did in the past,” Meyer said at his Monday press conference. “Very rarely did we have those kind of situations.”
While protecting players should obviously be a priority, should there also be concern given the Buckeyes documented troubles getting opponents down early last year? Ohio State gave up an average of almost 400 yards a game through the first four contests of 2012.
Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell admits the thought gives him a little bit of a “gut ache.”
OSU players, however, are confident they will be prepared, not only for the challenge of stopping an opposing offense, but to deal with the new targeting rules as well.
In fact, there is some sense that by being forced to break down a tackle into its component parts during this fall camp, the team will have even better fundamentals this season.
“I really don’t feel we’re going to have as many problems, because we do a lot of tackling drills and a lot of open field tackling drills, so we don’t really bring them to the ground, but we do tackle a lot,” said linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Shazier is one of only three returning defensive starters. (A potential fourth, defensive back Bradley Roby, is sitting out because he is serving a one-game suspension.) However, that’s just one more test the team aims to tackle.
Ohio State plays Buffalo this Saturday at noon. Our pregame coverage on 97.1 The Fan will start bright and early at 6:30.