Wednesday Practice Updates: Michigan State

By Kyle Rowland on September 26, 2012 at 8:00p

Ohio State and Michigan State have high hopes for 2012.

The Spartans are coming off successive 11-win seasons. They won a share of the conference championship in 2010, and then lost in the inaugural Big Ten championship game a year ago. Gone, though, is three-year starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. In his place is Andrew Maxwell, who has struggled in the first four games. The Spartan offense goes as Le’Veon Bell goes, the nation’s third-best rusher. 

Urban Meyer is confident entering his first Big Ten game.

For the Buckeyes, it’s all about redemption. Last season was a low point for the historic program, both in terms of on-field performance and off-field actions. But with Urban Meyer’s arrival came a calming sense of relief and belief.

Buckeye Nation immediately ratcheted up the expectations. When you’ve won at Bowling Green and Utah, and defeated Ohio State 41-14 to win a national title, Columbusites expect instant results.

So far, they’ve gotten them. The Buckeyes are 4-0 and ranked 14th in the AP poll. But the offense and defense have been far from perfect. This weekend, for the first time all season, both units will be fully healthy and give Michigan State looks it has not yet seen on film.  

  • Meyer said he is very excited about Saturday. He said he’s loved road games since he was a graduate assistant at Ohio State in the 80s.
  • That was Meyer’s first experience at Spartan Stadium. He became much more familiar with East Lansing when he was an assistant at Notre Dame.
  • Meyer said it’s a hostile environment with the fans right on you. But in a play to his crowd, he said the MSU fans aren’t as loud as Ohio State or Notre Dame fans.
  • With the first road game comes the first travel roster. Meyer said it’s obvious who will be on it.
  • Four Buckeyes that will travel to East Lansing: Carlos Hyde, Michael Bennett, Bradley Roby and CJ Barnett.
  • Hyde is ready to go and WILL play. Meyer said he’s looked good in practice this week.
  • The full backfield should be a huge boost to the offense. Meyer lauded running backs coach Stan Drayton for the job he’s done with the backfield and preparing them each week.
  • Meyer said Jordan Hall is getting closer to being 100 percent.
  • Bennett’s status is still uncertain. No word of if he will play or not.
  • In the secondary, Roby is looking good, but Barnett’s situation is more murky. Meyer said he could possibly miss the game.
  • In practice this week, all facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams – have been emphasized. The Buckeyes need to improve at everything, Meyer said.
  • Meyer said offensive lineman Marcus Hall is getting better, but he is still nowhere near where he can be. Hall has a lot of potential, Meyer added.
  • Ohio State has been practicing with crowd noise all week. Today the Michigan State fight song could be heard loud and clear in the media waiting area.
  • Wednesday was a good day of practice, according to Meyer. He said there was a lot of energy. The team is getting excited for playing a conference rival.
  • Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn have acted as Le’Veon Bell on the scout team. Meyer said they’ve been running hard right into the defense all week.
  • Meyer knows Mark Dantonio well. When Dantonio took over at Cincinnati, one of the first phone calls he made was to UC grad Urban Meyer. Meyer described him as a “quality guy.”
  • Meyer said Ben Buchanan is getting punts off in enough time. That was not the problem on Saturday, according to Meyer. He said Buchanan had no chance.
  • Last week, Braxton Miller gained more responsibility, being able to call audibles at the line of scrimmage. Meyer called it a normal progression and said by next season he hopes Miller can have the full playbook in his mind and go to the line with options to run any play.
  • The freshmen have to step up this weekend, Meyer said. They aren’t freshmen anymore. “It’s not Week 1,” Meyer said.
  • Miller said last season’s Michigan State game is a blur. The Spartans had nine sacks.
  • After watching film, Miller couldn’t believe how skinny he looked. He said he’s much more developed this year physically and as a QB.
  • The Michigan State defense uses a lot of disguised coverages, Miller said. They also use a lot of man converages on the wide receivers.
  • As a quarterback, Miller said it makes him excited. He said he has confidence in himself and his wide receivers to beat the MSU corners.
  • On offense, Miller said he feel like a leader now, especially since he gets the ball on every play.
  • Miller said he enjoys silencing the road stadiums.
  • Corey “Philly” Brown said he and Miller have specific signals to use when they see something at the line of scrimmage. Miller has signals with all the wideouts.
  • Brown enjoys running the ball and said the coaches do a good job getting him in space, one of Brown’s strengths.
  • Doran Grant’s dad was an All-Big Ten wide receiver at Michigan State. Grant said his dad would definitely be wearing Green and White on Saturday. Asked whom his dad would be rooting for, Grant laughed and said he didn’t know.
  • Grant has been taking reps with the first-team defense since fall camp. The number has not increased this week.
  • Jake Stoneburner called himself a tight end that’s split out wide.
  • Stoneburner said the Michigan State defense is “incredible.”
  • Last season, Michigan State’s defense dominated Ohio State, but this is a new offense, Stoneburner said. He said Ohio State runs a unique version of the spread offense not seen in the Big Ten.
  • Miller is a completely different player from last year’s game, Stoneburner added.
  • “They have a lot of preparing to do.” – Stoneburner on the MSU defense.
  • Johnathan Hankins said Bell is a good runner, powerful and strong.
  • The Buckeyes will have to do a lot of gang tackling on Saturday, according to Hankins.
  • Old-fashioned, Big Ten slugfests are the type of games Hankins prefers.
  • Ohio State has the worst total defense in the league, but Hankins said as long as they keep winning, that means they did their job.
  • Hankins said he and high school teammate William Gholston talk every week.

Comments Show All Comments

Grayskullsession's picture

I want to see Urbz open up the playbook a little more, because I can guarantee we are probably using less than half of it right now for good reason.

"if irony were made of strawberries, we' d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now."

NObuck-I-inTEAM's picture

I'm nervous..I hope Urban will change my mind early on Saturday

rdubs's picture

Why did this get downvoted??

Buckeyejason's picture

Haters gone hate


Culp's Freaking Hill's picture

Pretty excited for the possibility of a fully 100% Hyde and Hall backfield, you guys.

Twitter: @conquestnorman

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

You know it. It's time for a little smash and flash.

BeijingBucks's picture

Bash n flash?
pound n go round?
diss n dismiss?
slam n slice?
Pinky n Brain
hmmm need to find the right name when they earn it. 
And we aren't even talking about B Rax nicknames yet

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

20sider's picture

What do you want to do tonight Brain?
Same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the WORLD!!!   er,... B1G.


southernstatesbuckeye's picture

Im especially looking forward to how the Bucks will handle Bell. This is a chance to showcase a great effort against the #3 rusher in America. Doing so will go a long way in changing the perception of our D.

I like cookies.

AllDay028's picture

I'm not looking forward to it since there is a 90% chance he'll run all over us.

drumsontheside's picture

I just feel like this game is going to be the one where we finally feel really good about Ohio State football. Hopefully the defense will be sound against a more 'conventional' offense, but I'm still looking forward more to the offensive progression, and finally being able to feel like the team that is the threat instead of the team that is trying not to lose.


Nappy's picture

Love these practice updates.  I hope Hankins bringa his A game this weekend.  

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

johnblairgobucks's picture

^^^agree on the practice updates.  Thumbs up.

tampa buckeye's picture

The worst total defense.  That pretty much sums it up.

William's picture

Or 4th best scoring defense. That is the defensive statistic that matters most.

cplunk's picture

Everett, is that you?

AllDay028's picture

Michigan can attest to this being false.

3technique's picture

I agree that this personnel is more suited for a big 10 matchup.. Cannot wait!

otrain2416's picture

Shady Grants dad is gonna wear green and white I feel like if I were a dad I'd have my kids jersey on and route for his success

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

Jdadams01's picture

Completely depends on their relationship. Grant's Dad may know that wearing green and white will motivate his son. 

Buckeyejason's picture

Love these updates as well! I still think if Bennett doesn't play this week you gotta go ahead and redshirt him to save the guy a year. Hopefully we get good ole revenge s the team that embarrassed us for the most part at home last year...yes I know it wasn't a blow out or anything, but it almost felt like it most of the game.


CowCat's picture

The way I look at it:  
Michigan State has played a lot of their cards, facing Boise St and Notre Dame.
We haven't shown too much so far.   Not too many blitzes, only a little bit of pitch/option trickery.
I think Urban and Co. will show a lot more on Saturday ... but still save some for Nebraska.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

Jugdish's picture

Yeah...Uh Huh...that's what I thought. We really didn't show much.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

iamerika's picture

we may not have shown much, but what we have shown leaves a lot to be desired....

JLP36's picture

We haven't even shown tackling skills or pursuit angles yet, wait 'til we bust those out on Sparty!


CALPOPPY's picture


I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

CC's picture

Can you imagine Big Hank and Gholston on the same HS defensive line?  Hell could you imagine them on the same College defensive line.

Ahh Saturday's picture

One thing I can say for certain is that by dinner time Saturday night there'll be no more questions about what we're showing and what we're hiding.  Come this weekend we'll know what kind of a football team we have this year.

cinserious's picture

I always wondered why we didnt go after William Gholston all that much. Or was he just not interested from the start?

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Buckeyejason's picture

^ we went after him pretty hard. He just picked the home state school over tOSU.


Boxley's picture

Given the on field execution of the plays they do use, I think it is naive to assume they have been sandbagging.
If they cannot consistently execute their base plays, why would we assume they have more complex and diverse plays they have been holding out on?
Do I wish the former is true? Sure, but that is because I keep hoping for better. If they just execute properly the plays they have used, that will make a huge difference.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

rdubs's picture

It isn't so much that the other plays are more complex.  And actually just by running the constraint plays that seem to have been left out so far, it should make it easier to run the base plays regardless of how well we run the constraint plays because the defenses will still have to account for them.

CALPOPPY's picture

I agree with what RDubs said. Boxley, Ross Fulton did a nice recap of the UAB game that covered this idea and it does appear that OSU is not showing some things. He makes a much better argument than I ever could. You may be right but I wouldn't be surprised to find that Meyer has been keeping it vanilla.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

shortbus20's picture

Who actually will be blocking Gholston on Saturday? Do they move him around a lot on the line?

  • shortbus20
causeicouldntgo43's picture

These practice updates are pure money. Sometimes it almost seems like the coaching staff is giving up too much information such as when Meyer says "our defense isn't built for sideline to sideline short passes" - however, I'm sure that's obvious to any opposing DC anyway...........As Tress used to say, "and so forth"

BuckeyeinExile's picture

I have a good feeling about this game for some reason. With injuries and all I don't think we have seen anywhere near the best this team has to offer - at this point potential is still a ugly word. Regardless I think our offense puts together a really good game. I would still feel better if we could somehow sneak Teddy Ginn onto the field so he could pick up where he left off the last time he was on Sparty's field! 

gordon38's picture

I'm with you Buckeyeinexile -- have a good feeling about the game too.  BMiller is a totally different offensive player than last year's MSU game.  Had he been properly coached/utilized last year, we probably would've won.

Buckeyejason's picture

Too bad hes just getting over an injury and hasn't even played for the Niners this year yet.


IBleedSandG's picture

Big Hank and Gholston on the same DL... jeesh. I'm guessing that defense was pretty, pretty good.


dbit's picture

That's what I was thinking... on a HS d-line.  Just frightening.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

This is what I've been waiting for.  A little uncertainty, some butterflies in the stomach, a "who knows" type of feel to the upcoming game.  Can't wait!

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

German Buckeye's picture

^ felt this in the 4th qtr last Sat...

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Urban unleashes the Braxton this week and it does not end well for Sparty!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Release the Brakxten!


GABuckeye's picture

Well done sir, well done!

CALPOPPY's picture

+1 Awesome.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

raki's picture

This game would come down to our defence. I think we will make enough plays on offence to put some points on the board.

buckeye76BHop's picture

IMO this game will be close...until OSU finds a way to make this defense over pursuit and make them pay.  They won't try to run right into them like last year (which I KNOW Urban won't do).  Have faith ppl above...Bennett and Barnett will play.  UFM and company are keeping injury stuff close to the vest (just like MSU is doing).  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

costinjr's picture

Here's how my weeks have gone. Sunday - moping about because we played a horrible game against an oppenent who I felt we were so much better than. Monday - Listen to Bishop and Rothman, and Common Man and Torg talk about how bad we are, and I tend to agree with them. Tuesday - Listen to more radio and then read the presser notes, realize we have Urban as a coach and realize he won't stand for the BS that went on last Saturday. Wednesday - play all my fantasy ESPN games, which typically I pick mostly OSU players in my College Showdown, because they have favorable matchups and should perform well. Thursday - I start getting excited for the upcoming game, as last Saturday's memory fades and the work week is almost over. Friday - I listen to all the Buckeye football radio shows, and listen to absurd predections (OSU 52, UAB 17; "If OSU doesn't put half-a-hundred on the board I'm going to be disappointed.") Then I start getting really excited because traditionally we have put points on the board against bad opponents, and this is Ohio State and we shouldn't struggle against far lessor oppenents because that's just not what we do, except for rare occasions (Marshall, Cinci). Then Saturday rolls around and I'm totally amped to finally see this high powered offense, and a traditional stout defense, and my expectations come crashing down, as I watch a defense underperform and give up 400+ yards, and an offense that typically goes 3 and out, except on the occassions where they score 3 touchdowns in 1:30. Then after the game I tell myself that I'm not going to get as confident next week. lather, rinse, repeat.

Tonga Buckeye's picture

Bucks win 31-20.  OH YEH MAN!

"go not where the path may lead, rather go where there is no path and leave a trail"