“There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room
Do my dreaming and my scheming”
Those are the lyrics to “In My Room” by the Beach Boys, but it could also be the inner thoughts of Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
How so? We’ll get to that in a bit.
The Buckeyes kicked off fall practice on Thursday and in so doing they also kicked off a brand new drill for the defensive linemen.
Enter the beach, boys.
It’s actually not a beach, as there is no body of water nearby. Instead, it is just a sandpit near the Ohio State practice fields that was once used for drills, but is now used to keep injured Buckeyes busy and sandy.
This sandy hellscape received a renewed purpose on Thursday, however, as the OSU defensive linemen were in there running drills, spinning their wheels in the sand with every turn.
If you’ve ever tried running in sand, you get the idea. Now imagine doing it over and over and over again, pretending to chase a football that does not exist.
You can see a small bit of it here.
Using the sandpit in this way was, unsurprisingly, the brainchild of Larry Johnson.
“That’s new,” said defensive end Sam Hubbard, who actually missed the portion of action above while working with the punt team. “Coach J actually thought about it this summer, and it really makes you feel a lot faster once you get out on the grass. But you just gotta keep your feet moving. When you take your first step, your feet give out. So it’s just a new way to train and I feel like it’s going to make our feet a lot faster.”
How did Johnson come upon this new implementation of old sand?
In his room, in his room, doing his dreaming and scheming.
“Coach J is special,” Hubbard said. “He keeps a notepad next to his bedside table. He says he wakes up in the middle of the night and writes down some drills he thought of or dreamed of. And then goes back to sleep. I don’t know if many coaches are on his level. He’s always thinking. He’s always got something.”
Larry Johnson dreams up nightmares for his players, but it is all done with a specific goal in mind.
“It does suck, but it’s really beneficial at the same time,” defensive end Jalyn Holmes said. “It helps with our get-offs. It helps really with speed for a lot of us. It’s a pain, but at the end of the day it’s for a good reason.”
This year it’s the sandpits.
Next year? Who knows. Just know that something is coming.
“It’s new every year,” Hubbard said. “New tweaks. New ways to work on the same things.”