Monday Morning Kickoff

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Last updated: 08/13/2012 1:26 AM
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Football
Monday Morning Kickoff: Media Day Miscellany
By Tony Gerdeman

* The Ohio State football Media Day is always a nice opportunity to chat with a number of players that you might not get a chance to speak with during the season, particularly the freshmen.

This time of year, a freshman's head is typically swimming with assignments, formations, mistakes they've made, classes that they're taking and classes they wish they weren't taking.

Sometimes, however, the game is a little bit easier for some freshmen than others. One freshman where that might be the case is defensive end Noah Spence.

Following an impressive performance in a Saturday scrimmage, Spence was the second freshman on the team to have his black helmet stripe removed, signifying that he was now officially an Ohio State Buckeye.

Watching him in practice, his burst is undeniable, and his ability to get low makes him even more difficult to contain. He is simply just a natural pass rusher, so it's no surprise that he has had some early success.

It's also no surprise he said that his toughest obstacle right now is one that most freshmen face once they get to college—waking up.

"At first it was learning all of the plays. We're still learning, but now it's probably just waking up. The days come together. You don't really remember what day it is."

The days come together and you don't really remember what day it is? I'm glad to see that college hasn't changed much from when I was there.

* You might not believe this, but there are quite a few Buckeyes who don't want to go through another season like 2011. They aren't interested in having the offensive woes and defensive lapses that were commonplace last year.

Ryan Shazier said that as the self-described "weakness of the team" last year, the linebackers are particularly sensitive to making sure that they are playing up to the usual standard of Ohio State linebackers, and not the one that people saw in 2011.

"If we have a bad practice, we just bring it back up like, 'We were the weakness to this defense, and we need to step it up'," he said. "Because if anything goes wrong, it's really going to be our fault because we're supposed to be the core of the defense."

Similarly, Marcus Hall said that the offensive line decided a while ago to put the offense on their backs in 2012 and not let 2011 happen again. When did they come to that decision?

"Probably right after the Gator Bowl," he said. "We came off of that disgusting season and decided that we couldn't ever be a part of that s*** any more."

* Speaking of Ryan Shazier, his reputation as a speedster precedes him back in his old Florida stomping grounds. Visiting his old 7-on-7 team, a brash upstart wanted to see if the Shazier hype was real.

It was.

"One of the kids who is a cornerback wanted to race me because he claimed that he was faster than me," Shazier said. "And then we raced and I had to beat him. I'm not afraid to race anybody, it doesn't matter who steps up."

How fast is Shazier? He told me he ran a hand-timed 4.3 and a laser-timed 4.4 flat when the team had their timing day. Was he happy with that

"I was a little happy, but I felt that I could've done a little better. I was trying to get into that 4.3 laser range."

Aren't we all.

* While fans, reporters, coaches and interested bystanders are trying to figure out who will be playing the pivot position on offense for the Buckeyes, we found out a few players who wouldn't.

With Urban Meyer going through the list of players he could see in some form or fashion carrying the ball, catching shovel passes, running fly sweeps, or flaring out into the flats, I asked if Verlon Reed would be a guy that we could see in the pivot.

I asked based on Reed's past as a high school quarterback who was accustomed to running the ball between the tackles, thinking that this is what would separate Reed from the other candidates, but I was wrong.

Meyer said that Reed couldn't do it because he's too long of a strider. The same trait "afflicts" Devin Smith and Michael Thomas.

But at least I now know that it isn't whether or not a player has run between the tackles before, it's whether he's got the feet to move in small spaces.

And when you think about it, it's that ability to redirect in confined spaces that separated tailba/ck Jordan Hall from everyone else.

* There was an interesting juxtaposition of opinions regarding cornerback Bradley Roby on Sunday.

Urban Meyer said that he wasn't impressed with Roby during the spring and even early on this fall because the cornerback was bored and he wasn't being challenged.

Lately, however, he has said that Roby has jumped out at him as the receivers have given him more to do. Basically, Roby couldn't shine in Meyer's eyes because he was never challenged. If a player is never challenged, you can't ever see what they can truly do.

Receiver Devin Smith is one of those players who only recently began providing that challenge. Unlike Meyer, however, Smith has always been impressed by Roby, and he has already seen him become a better player than he was last season.

"I think if he continues the path that he's on, there's no doubt in mind that I think he can be the best corner in the nation," he said.

The best corner in the nation? Is he serious?

"He is a lot harder [to play against] than last year, and he's gotten a lot tougher. You can tell he's gotten a lot stronger since Coach Mick got here. I think he can be the best player in the nation."

Okay, clearly he was being serious. I just didn't think receivers were supposed to compliment cornerbacks like that.

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