Ohio State football hoping talent trumps inexperience
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer jogged out the door of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The rest of the Ohio State Buckeyes followed.
More than 100,000 people will watch the Buckeyes make a similar entrance on Sept. 3. For the first practice of the 2016 season, 20-something members of the media served as witnesses as a young and inexperienced team began its quest to live up to the hype every Ohio State team faces, no matter the makeup of the roster.
According to Phil Steele's College Football Preview, Ohio State has the least experienced roster of the 128 Division I teams. The Buckeyes have six returning starters. They had 310 combined starts among the players on the roster at the start of last season and 134 among the players this year.
Most of the Buckeyes are so unknown, Meyer brought up at least four former players before he mentioned a current one in his post-practice press conference Sunday.
"Guys like Steve Miller, he's a graduate and national champion," Meyer said. "He decided in his last year to cross that line, cross that edge and become elite at what he did. I'm anxious to see who's going to cross that line."
Here are five things to know about Ohio State's first practice:
1. New mantra: For the 2014 Buckeyes, who won the national championship, the theme all season was "The Chase." A season ago, it was "The Grind." On Sunday, Meyer said the mantra for 2016 is "The Edge."
Meyer and Mickey Marotti, the team's sports performance coach, had been working on coming up with a mantra all summer.
"The Edge is where average stops and elite begins," Meyer said. "The great players we've been around become their best when it gets real hard. The average person, the average player, the average coach, they kind of shut it down because it gets really hard and uncomfortable."
2. No QB controversy: Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett was the only player made available to the media after the first practice. More players will talk later this week.
A year ago, Barrett and Cardale Jones dominated the conversation. Both dueled for the job. Jones won the job. Then they shared the job. By the end of the season, it was all Barrett.
The Buckeyes rank No. 5 in the preseason coaches poll in a large part because they return Barrett, who misses his teammate Jones and keeps in touch with him. They talked Thursday. Jones now plays for the Buffalo Bills.
"I knew he had my back," Barrett said. "Oftentimes in the past, throughout history, when you were competing against somebody, it's almost like you don't like him. With me and Cardale, it wasn't like that."
3. Healthy roster: A number of players who missed time last season or in spring practices were on the field Sunday.
Trotwood-Madison graduate Cam Burrows, who received a redshirt after missing all but three games last season with a foot injury, was one of them. He looked healthy as he practiced with the safeties.
Wide receivers Noah Brown, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson, safety Erick Smith and defensive end Tyquan Lewis, who was injured in the spring, are other players back from injuries.
4. Starting lineup: Meyer wants to start settling on a starting lineup by the 12th or 13th practice. That would be around Aug. 17.
5. Freshman impact: Three freshmen didn't practice with the rest of their class in the morning and instead started with the upperclassmen: offensive lineman Michael Jordan, wide receiver Austin Mack and running back Antonio Williams. The three were among the seven freshmen who enrolled at Ohio State in January.
This article was written by David Jablonski from The Dayton Daily News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.