Players enjoy ‘fun’ practices of late

Tim May
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Davon Hamilton (53) celebrates after recovering a fumble in the end zone from TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Shawn Robinson, not pictured, during the first quarter of a NCAA Division I college football game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, September 15, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. [Joshua A. Bickel]

In its last two games, Ohio State was drubbed 49-20 by Purdue then held on to beat heavy underdog Nebraska 36-31. Yet practice this week has been fun, several of the players said Wednesday, as they prepped for Saturday’s game at Michigan State.

“I feel like during practice we’re having more fun,” defensive tackle Davon Hamilton said. “That’s what I feel like was missing a little bit when it came to practice and whatnot.

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“A lot of the time it’s a lot of hurry, hurry, hurry, going and going, but we don’t really get to celebrate when we do good. But this last week, even throughout the bye week (before the Nebraska game) we just practiced on having fun.”

So what gives? The loss to Purdue dropped the Buckeyes from No. 2 in the polls, from which they’ve climbed back only to seventh. And sitting 10th in the College Football Playoff rankings for the second straight week, at 8-1 they seem to be an afterthought in the selection committee’s mind about making the final top four in December.

So how could they be having fun when they know the doubters abound?

“I’d have to say it’s exciting when people doubt you,” right guard Demetrius Knox said. “The doubt we have coming towards our program, we love that. Everybody here expects us to win, and that is the mindset. But when people have a little bit of doubt towards you, it’s beautiful. You get to prove them wrong.”

Some of the players try to block out the naysayers on social media, and some pay attention, but whatever the input, Knox said, a player has to roll with it.

“I can’t speak for everybody as far as their social media, … (but) I can go to Walmart or something like that and, ‘Oh, you play football? What happened to the run game?’ Or ‘What happened to the …’ ” he said. “Anywhere you go as a student-athlete, that’s how it is.”

And the sea parted

Keandre Jones hasn’t played as much as a regular linebacker as some expected, but defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones (no relation) said Keandre has kept a positive attitude.

“It’s about putting your pride aside and doing what you have to do for this university and this team,” Keandre said Wednesday.

Last week against the Huskers, though, he got to take some pride. The seas parted in front of him and he ran in to block a punt that rolled out of the end zone and gave OSU its first points, a safety.

“Scoring any points to help your team win is exciting,” Keandre said. “And to have 100,000 fans cheering your team on is exciting.”


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