Fall practices are underway and it is almost like Christmas in August! If you are like me, then you can't get enough information about who is looking good and moving up the depth chart, and other observations from those in attendance. So, the biggest part of this week's N & N centers on practice reports:
Early Returns: Both practice observers and the coaching staff seem pretty optimistic so far, although it is still pretty early. None of the TSB crew has been in Columbus, so I am depending on the fine work of others, but after perusing the web, here are some of the things that jump out at me:
-Braxton Miller has looked good. We know that Meyer love his potential, but Herman also seems very excited by his sophomore signal caller. Herman, who has been pleasantly surprised by the offense in general, says Braxton's acceleration and explosiveness is impressive, but also praised his "quick, smooth release."
-Fullback Zach Boren, who trimmed down, shedding 20 pounds, will not only factor more in the passing attack, but should get some carries, especially near the goal line. Supposedly he looks quite a bit quicker.
-As for the running backs, Hyde seems ready to step up as the main man, at least until Jordan Hall returns. Speaking of Hall, he is in a boot, walking the sidelines, and on schedule with his recovery. And, Bri'onte Dunn is practicing, but the staff is waiting until the legal process plays out, and a suspension is still a possibility.
-The receivers, often maligned, have supposedly looked pretty good, and Tom Herman even called them "potent". Philly Brown has been explosive, but word is that he will not fill the hybrid position that Percy Harvin made famous. Herman fears that Brown is not physical enough to withstand running the ball inside. Michael Thomas continues to impress, and reportedly has great ball skills. And, Devin Smith has received praise from Urban, and could be the deep threat on this team.
-Onto the defensive line which should be the strength of this year's team. Michael Bennett is now the clear starter at strongside end, and the staff loves his potential. Nathan Williams brought smiles all around when he actually got into one contact drill Tuesday, and there is hope he will return before the start of the B1G season. But the truly exciting news revolves around the incoming freshmen. Noah Spence is a beast, and is so quick off the edge that some are already calling him "unblockable." Meanwhile Adolphus Washington, who has bulked up considerably, is playing inside at tackle and the coaches say he is both impressive and "intense".
-Linebacker is a concern due to lack of proven depth. The good news is that Curtis Grant was back at practice Tuesday after returning to Virginia due to the failing health of his grandfather. It sounds like he is the man at MLB, but the coaches want him to step up and be more of a leader. The stud of the group, though, will be Ryan Shazier, and he is up to 230 pounds (25 lbs. more than last year) and says he is even faster.
-There hasn't been a lot written about the defensive backs, other than effusive praise for speedy Bradley Roby. Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell did say he has no intention of Roby getting reps at wide receiver, even though that is something Bradley is lobbying for.
For more up to the minute reports from practice, you can always get good information at Bucknuts (though some of it requires a membership) and from Eleven Warriors. However, I have been really impressed with all the good stuff at The Ozone, as Brandon Castel and Tony Gerdeman are hard at work. For a list of their recent columns click here.
You can also see a video with practice reports from the official Ohio State Athletic site, which features some interesting quotes.
Duron and On and On: How many more places will give Duron Carter a chance? We all know that the talented son of Buckeye legend Cris Carter, started out at OSU and had a nice freshman season. But he forgot to go to class, lost his eligibility and wound up at Coffeyville (Kan) Community College. Then he signed with Alabama, but didn't even go to class often enough to satisfy Nick Saban. So, Carter recently headed to Florida Atlantic University. And, right off the bat, with daddy watching from the sidelines, Duron was kicked out of practice for lack of effort. Wow, if Dane Sanzenbacher had half his talent he would have won a Heisman trophy!
Interesting Stuff from ESPiN: The ESPN B1G blog is often filled with interesting material. That is certainly true at this time of the year. My favorite entries have been the three-part player's poll, in which 28 Big Ten players were asked some simple question. The first question was Besides your own coach, which Big Ten coach would you like to play for the most? No surprise here: Urban Meyer came out first with 8 votes, followed by Kirk Ferentz. Even better, crybaby Bret Bielema didn't get one vote! Question two was Which Big Ten coach would you least like to play for? Who's the dirtiest player(s) in the Big Ten? A lot of guys refused to weigh in on that one, maybe out of fear, but William Gholston of Michigan State and Wisconsin's Chris Borland led the way with two votes each...One more must read from the ESPN boys (this time from Outside the Lines) tells us that "Urban Meyer will be home for dinner." It really is a compelling piece even if it is from a source most of us distrust.
What? One final thought, which allows me to mock ESPN since I was overly complimentary. Today they released their list of the 10 greatest Summer Olympic athletes of all time. Number one was Michael Phelps. Of course he was the easy choice due to the number of medals he has won, and the fact that he is current. Sorry guys, but Jesse Owens is still number one in my book...and not because he was a Buckeye. Owens dominated four events in 1936 that took amazing athletic prowess, and did it under the watchful eye of Adolph Hitler, and his racist propaganda. Owens was simply far superior to anyone else alive at that time. But, that is not my biggest beef with the article. Number 8 on the ESPN list is Greg Louganis. What? Do we really consider him an "athlete"? I will close on that note.