Like last last week's episode, if you're a hardcore follower of Ohio State football, you probably didn't learn anything particularly new, football-wise, from yesterday's second edition of "Scarlet and Gray Days" on BTN. If you've been following closely, you probably know about the suspensions of Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith and Joey Bosa, as well as which players are likely to replace Bosa against Virginia Tech (Jayln Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis). You probably heard that Ohio State is considering the idea of putting Joshua Perry at defensive end as well. You're aware that Braxton Miller's transition to H-Back/WR isn't without bumps, and the idea of Eddie George hanging around practice probably isn't shocking.
Perhaps the only exception was when Urban Meyer said "we might play two" while discussing the quarterback competition. That would run against of a lot of his comments at Big Ten Media Days, and it seems a little unusual that he'd drop a major strategic insight like that on the show, but perhaps something to file away for background material later.
Either way, that doesn't mean that there weren't things to learn from Scarlet and Gray Days, especially if you're not a hardcore football aficionado, as I was reminded again while watching with my wife. Here's what we picked up:
Circle Drill alliances are not to be trusted
A major point of emphasis of this episode was the Circle Drill, which pits two Buckeyes against each other in front of the entire team. More than just a welcome-to-pads activity to test strength and technique, the Circle Drill is also a chance, as Luke Fickell mentioned, to make a positive impression on the coaching staff, and to prove to one's coaches and teammates that they're strong, and ready to give their all for practice.
Because of that, trying to make a deal to avoid some pain is not recommended.
J.T. Barrett recounted his first circle drill, when he was set to face off against Cardale Jones, who has a good 25 pounds and four inches on him. Barrett claimed that he had Jones set up a deal, where Jones wouldn't go as hard as he possiblycould against Barrett, and they could both save face in front of everybody. The first Circle Drill, that seemed to turn out just fine. But then "Cardale must have gotten mad or something", and then this happened.
Cardale's retort? "I helped you up, didn't I?"
Urban Meyer gets excited just like every other middle-aged dad
The first day of pads in practice is an exciting time, and everybody has their own unique way of showing it. I say this without any pejorative intent whatsoever, but it seems like Urban Meyer gets excited in an exceptionally #dad way, and his players noticed. How do you know coach Meyer is pumped for today? Check out the hat.
Taylor Decker said the backwards hat move is like "Aaron Rodgers with the belt", and Joshua Perry said "you know it's going to be a good day today ... Coach Meyer got the hat on backwards."
IT'S LIT, as the kids might say.
"YOU WILL WANT TO PLAY ON THIS TEAM"
That what Urban Meyer's key point that he tried to drive home during a speech to the entire team, emphasizing the point multiple times. To my wife, this seemed a bit strange. "Wouldn't it be a given that everybody there wants to play for Ohio State?" Everybody in that group, after all, has already worked very hard to get to the point where Ohio State would even consider them, and they're already in the throes of a difficult training camp.
The mental, physical, emotional, hell, maybe even spiritual toll that competing at a very high level of college football takes on somebody cannot be overstated though, and it's possible that some were feeling a bit low already during the grind of training camp, especially some of the freshman, who were now away from home, in an unfamiliar environment, and getting their butts kicked. Lest anybody find their resolve wanting just for a moment, Meyer wanted to hammer this point home. Playing for Ohio State is going to be worth it. You're going to want it. And you need to show that want with your effort.
Everybody has rituals
Even a casual Ohio State fan is probably familiar with the concept of "nine units strong", or the idea that ever position group needs to working at peak capacity in order for the team to function. To get there, Meyer and his staff emphasize building cohesion and an identity within each position group, to get their players to know and care for each other, while also emphasizing the team as a whole. You saw some of that in the last episode, but saw it more in this one, as some of the unit specific rituals, from linebackers dancing under hurdles to get to their offices, to the offensive line screaming and entering practice together (and kicking outsiders out). Every unit has their own rituals.
It might be a tricky balancing act between fostering strong unit-identity without compromising that of the team, but Ohio State seems to have done it so far, and a culture of leadership, mentoring and brotherhood is on display in the program. If you're wondering what that might look like away from the cameras, check out the response from fellow wideouts after Noah Brown was injured last night.
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Also, while BTN had told us that they thought the show could go "three or four" episodes, next Wednesday's show will be the last one. It's been a fun ride. Here's hoping if they do it again, the episodes are an hour long and/or there are more of them.