The honors keep coming, as does the work. Yesterday, Ohio State had its ninth spring football practice. Tonight, about half of the Buckeyes team will head to Cincinnati, where the Reds will honor them before the game for their 2014 national championship. In two weeks, the Buckeyes will go to Washington to be honored at the White House.
The honors keep coming, as does the work.
Yesterday, Ohio State had its ninth spring football practice.
Tonight, about half of the Buckeyes team will head to Cincinnati, where the Reds will honor them before the game for their 2014 national championship. In two weeks, the Buckeyes will go to Washington to be honored at the White House.
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The Buckeyes earned the recognition for their improbable title. But when complacency is a potential enemy that must be confronted at every turn, as Urban Meyer has repeatedly stated, what is the proper balance?
Meyer was not feeling well after yesterday's practice, a team spokesman said, so assistants Kerry Coombs and Zach Smith filled in for him at the podium. To Coombs, the "enjoy rewards vs. fight complacency" question isn't an either-or proposition.
"I think there's tremendous value in appreciating what you've earned," the cornerbacks coach said. "To me, that's unbelievable motivation for next year.
"I don't think there's a single kid who sits in this room that says, 'Well, we get to do all that stuff, so this year is not as important.' I think it's, 'We get to do that all that stuff. Let's go do it again.' "
Tonight's Reds game has particular meaning to Coombs. Except for his college years in Dayton, Coombs spent his whole life in Cincinnati until joining Meyer's staff three years ago.
He's a huge Reds fan who can still recite the lineup from the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s.
"I love the Cincinnati Reds," Coombs said. "For me to be able to go back there and be on the field and be hanging out in that environment is phenomenal. It's still my town. So it's a special day."
The Buckeyes will arrive back in Columbus late tonight and be back on the field on Thursday morning. If there's any figurative hangover from being feted, the intensity of practices will squeeze it out of them.
"What we do here is grind and grind every day," Coombs said. "We're in the immediate (moment). In the immediate, there's not a whole lot of time to say, 'Well, you know, Coach, last year I did …' There's not a whole lot of that conversation going on. I don't sense that at all. I don't sense guys saying, 'Coach, I don't want to go today. I've got to go get a trophy.' I sense guys wanting to be really good at what they're doing."
Even if there is a tendency toward relaxation, the fierce competition for spots is a deterrent. At receiver, for example, the Buckeyes lost Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. Dontre Wilson (foot) and Michael Thomas (sports hernia) are not practicing.
So reps are there for the taking. Among those taking advantage, said Zach Smith, the position coach, is Noah Brown. The sophomore-to-be has dropped about 25 pounds, and the Buckeyes expect him to be a major contributor in 2015.
Of course, no position will get more scrutiny than quarterback. Although Braxton Miller still is rehabilitating his shoulder and J.T. Barrett is limited as he returns from a fractured ankle, Cardale Jones has been impressive, Coombs and Smith said.
"He's the biggest arm in college football," Coombs said.
In Saturday's scrimmage, he said Jones threw a go route to the far side of the field "35 yards on a rope. There aren't many guys who can do that. He can do that without a big windup."
"Cardale has a great skill set," Coombs said. "At the same time, his growth and maturity in all areas - leadership, checking protections, being in charge out there - is significant."
So if the Reds need an extra arm in the bullpen tonight after the pregame honors …