Over 80 thousand Buckeye fans braved the elements at Saturday’s spring game to get an early taste of what the 2012 Ohio State football team has to offer.
But I don’t want to talk about the game or be one of those people that gets too caught up in how one or two players stand out in a split squad scrimmage game. I want to discuss what occurred about ten minutes before the game started.
Both the Scarlet and the Gray team huddled around the Block O at midfield to participate in a lively version of the Oklahoma drill – where teammates line up one-on-one and basically go at each other like human rhinoceroses. The coaches and players were running around hooting and hollering and genuinely cared about who won each drill. It didn’t matter that the competitors were technically teammates come fall – for those ten seconds they were competing for pride, respect, and their fellow teammates on their half of the circle. Nothing else mattered.
This is exactly what the 2012 Ohio State team will be playing for – pride and respect. There is no Rose Bowl or Big Ten Championship to play for this year, and some (including myself) have worried about where the motivation will come from for the players. Worry no more. This new coaching staff has instilled a competitive spirit amongst the Scarlet and Gray ranks that was palpable throughout the stadium during this drill.
The final competitors were Braxton Miller and Kenny Gution. Yes, you read that right. New coach Urban Meyer threw his prized starting quarterback in the middle of what seemed like a blood thirsty circle of football players to ram himself full speed against the backup quarterback. All this was to warm up for the spring game. In April.
Those in the crowd who had found their seats caught on quickly to what was happening and loved it. In fact, if it didn’t get your blood flowing with excitement for the new season, you either need to see a doctor or are a scared Michigan fan. What’s more, I have never played a down of competitive football in my life, and I wanted to jump right into the middle of the ring. I would imagine that any high school recruit worth their weight in football competitiveness that sees displays like these would want to be a part of it. If they don’t, then I don’t want them on the Buckeye roster.
Frankly, Urban even makes field goals exciting. In the second quarter, Drew Basil nailed a 41 yard field goal to put the Scarlet team up 10-0. But the special teams fun (did I really just type that?) wasn’t done. Meyer kept making Basil convert kicks from further and further away until he was kicking from midfield into the wind.
In the meantime, Urban was emphatically pumping the crowd up for what was ultimately a practice field goal in April. And it worked. Even though the field goal of almost 60 yards into the wind fell just short, the crowd was into it. Too bad that was never done when Mike Nugent was here, otherwise the drill would have lasted two hours until he was kicking from his own 20.
As for the actual game, the team with Braxton Miller (Scarlet) beat the team without Braxton Miller (Gray) 20-14. While I was disappointed Jordan Hall didn’t play after raving about him in my running backs preview, it was ultimately a success because there were no serious injuries.
Can’t wait until the fall – the Urban Renewal is just getting started.