Ohio State is in the heart of its preseason camp, and by indications, things appear to be progressing nicely for the Buckeyes despite the ban of two-a-day practice sessions this season for the first time by the NCAA.
Yet as the players walked in from practice Wednesday just past noon, there weren’t a lot of smiles. It was already in the upper 80s with high humidity, and as assistant defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs said, a lot of work had just been done in the lone 2-1/2-hour session of the day.
“You’re in training camp, practice 17, guys are grinding, working, sun’s out,” Coombs said. “We’ve got a really good team, everybody’s playing hard, so I thought it was a great day, not a tough day.”
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A veteran coach, he came up through the era when two-a-day practices were the true grind of preseason. But he has seen the benefits of the scale-back this season, though two-a-day sessions were only allowed for a limited time in the past several years, and not for two days in a row.
“It’s a completely different schedule (now), it’s the NFL schedule, and our kids, I think the routine is positive, they know what to expect every day,” Coombs said. “It’s morning meetings, morning practice, rest time, meetings, walk through – I think our evening walk-throughs have been phenomenal. I think they’re a difference maker for us.
“I think we’re actually getting more out of camp than we did when we had two-a-days.”
In retrospect, not only were two-a-day sessions tough, “physically it was hard to recover for the next day,” Coombs said. “You’d cut meeting time out and you’d lose some other things that we’re not losing right now.
“So right now I think it’s a huge positive.”
It’s the effect junior defensive end Sam Hubbard anticipated when camp started the last week of July.
“It’s hard to get your body right and your mind right for that second practice” in a two-a-day format, Hubbard said. “You have (one a day) you’re good to go for all you can give the next day. But asking it four hours after you just finished practice is a lot.”
Black stripe removal
The first of the three high-profile offensive linemen signed to the 2017 class to have the black stripe removed from his practice helmet was Thayer Munford, the late addition to the class who has been working at right tackle behind returning starter Isaiah Prince. The stripe removal is coach Urban Meyer's way of signifying a player is ready for game action.
Joining Munford earlier this week in the stripe-removal was linebacker Peter Werner. The group now includes running back J.K. Dobbins, defensive end Chase Young, cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, defensive tackle Haskell Garrett and safety Isaiah Pryor.
Cliché for the times
Times are a-changing, and so are clichés. It used to be when a coach described how elusive a player was, he might say “he’d be tough to cover in a phone booth.”
But in this cell phone age, Coombs on Wednesday referred to potential punt returner Eric Glover-Williams as being someone who could “make you miss in a Port-O-Let.”
As Coombs later explained, “If I said ‘phone booth’ to my players they wouldn’t know what the heck that was. We all know what a Port-O-Let is.”
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