Urban Meyer has upheld and started several new traditions since arriving at Ohio State in November 2011. An Ohioan to the core who cut his teeth at Ohio State as a twenty-something graduate assistant, Meyer understands the importance of the scarlet and gray-clad football program.
When he was hired, he spoke directly to students, saying they have ownership of the football team. For the second consecutive year, Meyer proved that by inviting the student body to attend practice.
There was one student, however, that probably wishes he would have stayed home. A guest performer, wearing the number 00, took a handoff midway through practice. He had a seam and busted through the defensive line. Then, all of a sudden, David Perkins came out of nowhere and made Andy Katzenmoyer smile and Corby Jones shudder.
Brutus Buckeye was laid out.
Many ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ came from the estimated 2,500 students watching on either sideline. The student portraying the loveable nut popped right back up but quickly left. He was not seen again. There’s no word on whether he suffered an injury or if it was only his pride that was hurt.
Following practice, Perkins said he didn’t mean to hit Brutus so hard. But when a linebacker sees a ball carrier streaking down the field untouched, the juices get flowing.
The sunny skies combined with Buckeye football made it an enjoyable day to be had for most. The event was held on the outdoor fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Senior center Corey Linsley is rehabbing a foot injury and stood on the sideline for most of the festivities, but it didn’t damper his mood.
“It was awesome to get all the students involved,” he said. “It helps the crowd out on gamedays because they all feel like one with the team. They have our back. They aren’t booing when we’re down. I love it.”
When Meyer first proposed the idea of Student Appreciation Day last year, Linsley was unsure about the occasion. He thought it could develop into a loosey-goosey atmosphere with guys taking plays off or playing to the crowd too often.
Boy, was he wrong.
“It turned out to be an awesome event,” Linsley said. “Coach Meyer knows what he’s doing.
“We’re still getting our ass ripped when stuff isn’t right. Nothing changes.”
There was no ripping to do of Drew Basil on Saturday, unless there was lingering anger about a missed 35-yard field goal earlier in the day. When the intensity was ratcheted up, the placekicker drilled the ball through the uprights.
Basil once again found himself surrounded by thousands of screaming, bouncing Ohio State students. All he was asked to do was block out the noise and distraction of being encircled at every turn.
“Coach Meyer stands next to me on all the other ones. There’s nothing that beats that,” Basil said. “It was a great feeling having all the students out here today.
“I’m usually pretty focused. It was a different feeling, but it was fun.”
For everyone, except maybe Brutus.
- The revamped defensive line looked good again. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington had multiple sacks, and Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Bennett added to the growing list of playmakers.
- The second-team offense struggled. The O-line had trouble blocking and Cardale Jones was shaky at times.
- With Linsley taking the day off, Pat Elflein had several iffy snaps.
- Warren Ball continues to impress. He had another long run today – a 45-yarder against the No. 1 defense. Ball has more long runs than other running back during the spring.
- Tyvis Powell had a big hit on Devin Smith. Practice got a little testy at times. There was a scuffle between Marcus Hall and Joel Hale.
- All told, I think the coaches definitely love the competitiveness. It’s not like players don’t like each other. The team is definitely close. Everyone just wants to win.
- Curtis Grant was active on D today. That'll be music to the ears of Buckeye fans. He was in the backfield multiple times and even had a sack on Braxton Miller.
- The Buckeyes ran a shovel pass with Braxton pitching to Rod Smith. It worked well, gaining at least 15 yards.
- Philly Brown had around a 50-yard catch from Braxton. Cam Burrows was on the coverage. Brown caught it over his shoulder.
- Chris Carter spent some times with the 1s today. He had a big hit on Warren Ball after he broke one tackle. Ball probably wished he had gone down on the first hit.
- Evan Spencer had a solid 25-yard TD catch. It came against the second-team D, but he still displayed nice hands.
- Devin Smith was another receiver with a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch from Braxton. The throw wasn't great, but Smith beat Doran Grant.
- Smith and Chris Fields had drops on back-to-back plays. It looked like they may have heard footsteps.
- Bri'onte Dunn had a nice 35-yard run, where he got around the edge quickly. It was a footrace from there, and he was eventually pushed out at the two.
- Michael Thomas continued his good spring. He hauled in a red zone TD on a play that included pass interference from Eli Apple. Thomas couldn't have cared less about contact, kept his concentration and grabbed the ball out of the air.