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Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 03/11/2010 2:44 PM

Winter Conditioning Notes
By Tony Gerdeman

The Buckeyes concluded day three of their six days of 6 a.m. workouts today. Normally there would be a day off mixed in somewhere, but right now the Buckeyes have “six on the brain“. You see, there is currently a running mantra of “Six In A Row” going on, and last year it referred to wins over Michigan, but this year it refers to Big Ten Championships. And the team liked the motto so much that they have carried it over to the workouts as well, and will eschew a day off in order to go “Six (days) In A Row”.

Ross Homan strains during winter consditioning.
Photo by Dan Harker

The workouts themselves involved various running drills, some sled work, one-on-one tugs-of-war with giant rubber bands, ropes (we’ll get to that part later), and ended with wheelbarrow races and piggy-back rides. By the end, it almost resembled a fourth-grader’s field day. The only thing missing was the three-legged race and the juice boxes.

But just because some of the drills looked a bit unusual, that doesn’t mean they lacked effectiveness.

“It’s alright now that it’s over with“, said Brandon Saine. “But while we’re out there it wasn’t very fun.”

“Whatever they can come up with, we just have to do it," he added.

The Buckeye assistant coaches manned each of the different drills, and even though the players themselves didn’t seem too excited about the drills, that never seems to affect the coaches’ excitement level.

“I know each coach usually has their drill that they do each year," explained Bryant Browning, “and they get excited about it. But it’s another chance for you to get to work with each coach.”

“I think it brings the team together really well, too," said Saine. “We all have to be here at 6 a.m. I think the camaraderie is pretty good. Everybody’s out here working together and hurting together.”

That’s Ridiculous

One of the themes of the day was the nature of the unusual drills, and the word “ridiculous” was thrown around quite a bit. And it wasn’t just by reporters.

"I think they’re all ridiculous," admitted Cameron Heyward. “The coaches make them ridiculous. So we just have to fight through them. The main thing is that they’re just trying to get you to handle adversity and deal with a little stress and a little bit of fatigue. The main thing is that you’ve got to fight through it."

But there is definitely a method to the madness, and Heyward understands that Rome wasn‘t built in a day.

“It’s going to take a whole offseason to get ready for the season," he said. “But it starts here. It starts with bonding with your guys and handling adversity. And just keep fighting through it.”

“You just gotta push through it no matter what it is,' echoed Saine. “With all of the coaches out here, you might be trying to impress them and show them what you can do. It makes it fun when you’ve got everybody out here with you, you know that you’re not doing it alone.”

Nobody seemed to like doing Piggybacks.
Photo by Dan Harker

And the piggy-backs?

“I’d rather just do regular sprints or something like that," Devon Torrence joked. “But if Coach thinks it’s gonna help us get better, then I’m all for it.”

“The piggy-back thing was the most awkward for sure," said an emphatic Dane Sanzenbacher. “It’s at the end of the workout, everybody’s just drenched in sweat. But it’s something they ask us to do, so we we’ve got to do it. There’s nothing we can do. We’ve done it every year, so we just get through it.”

Asked if there is a preferred piggy-backing technique that he employs, Sanzenbacher thought for a moment and said, “There’s no real secret. I think you just go as fast as you can.”

Likes and Dislikes

With so many different types of players on a football team, obviously some will be better suited at certain drills than others. For instance, the quicker guys might like the sprints and chases, while the bigger guys might prefer the more power-oriented drills. But almost to a man, they prefer the tug-of-war drill because it is one of the few one-on-one competitions throughout these workouts.

The Band Pull seemed to get everybody's juices flowing.
Photo by Dan Harker

“I’d have to say the band-pulls are pretty fun," said Saine. “It’s a nice competition.”

Though if you’re watching it, “nice competition” is about the furthest thing from your mind. Imagine a giant rubber band tied around the waist of two competitors and then when the whistle blows, they each try to move themselves backwards in any manner possible, using every ounce of strength and balance they can muster.

“The best thing? I’m going to say the tug-of-war with the bands," said Sanzenbacher, “because you actually get out and battle with somebody. The worst thing? It depends on where you start, actually, because usually the last thing you do is the worst thing.”

But not everybody was on board the Tug-of-War Train.

“I hate the tug-of-war”, said Torrence. “I don’t like that drill at all. It just takes too long for one, and it’s just not my favorite drill.”

Showing Them The Ropes

The rope drill is a new wrinkle in winter conditioning. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Sam Longo got the waves moving fairly well.
Photo by Dan Harker

One of the more interesting drills was the ropes. It consisted of 70’ and 90’ ropes laying on the ground, each wrapped at its midpoint around a bleacher leg 35’ and 45’ away. Players then grabbed each end of a rope with one hand--the 70’ rope weighed 100 pounds and the 90’ rope weighed 120 pounds--and would have to shake the ropes up and down, creating “waves”. They would start with the right hand, then stop; then go left hand, then stop; then go both hands. Even though it seemed like one of the more simple drills, it looked the most exhausting.

Opinions on the ropes varied, however.

“I feel like I’m doing double-dutch out there with 120-lb ropes, so that’s a little bit different," said Sanzenbacher, obviously recalling his championship jump roping days back in Toledo.

“The ropes are really hard," admitted Heyward.

“The ropes aren’t bad," said Saine.

I guess that answers the question of who was working with the heavier ropes, eh?

A Star Is Reborn?

One of the players we were most anxious to see was Tyler Moeller, and while watching him work with the safeties, he didn’t disappoint. During the figure-eight drill, where two players are separated by a few feet and the player in chasing position tries to catch the player in front of him, Moeller would catch his man within ten or so steps, even pushing him down and passing him at times.

(In case you’re not familiar with that drill, generally, the chaser doesn’t catch the guy in front of him.)

When Moeller was on the other end and being chased, he easily distanced himself from his pursuer. He was also consistently victorious in the tugs-of-war, though the last one appeared to take a lot out of him, because there was something visibly wrong with him. It wasn’t clear if he dinged something, or if it was just fatigue. He finished the rest of the drills, but it was clear that he had been affected by the tug-of-war.

But it was still a very positive sign seeing him out there, and seeing him succeed. His weight is down, but he has apparently gained speed as he looks to lock down the Star position for the Buckeyes.

And don’t think for a second that Moeller’s efforts aren’t being noticed by everybody around him.

“It’s very encouraging," said Torrence when asked what it means to see Moeller out on the field competing.

“Especially in his situation. Tyler is a football player through and through. He’s a Buckeye though and through. And he’s the type of person who is going to give you 110% no matter what. And coming from his situation, it’s just really good to see him out there getting a chance to do what he really loves to do.”

Other Various Tidbits

Bobby Carpenter
Photo by Dan Harker

* Former Buckeye and current Dallas Cowboy Bobby Carpenter was working out with the linebackers today, and according to Brian Rolle, that always brings some extra motivation for the current crop of players.

“It’s a lot of motivation. I saw him in the locker room this morning putting his cleats on, and I was like ‘Aw, here goes Bobby‘. But he’s a great guy. He pushes us very hard, and that’s what I like about him. Somebody who comes back and works out with us and teaches us how to work hard even when times seem like they’re getting bad.”

“It’s just like talking to a guy who I’ve played with, even though I haven’t. Bobby’s a cool guy. He’ll talk to you about ‘In the NFL, this is how they do it, and what you’ve got to do here in order to make in that league.’”

* Speaking of Brian Rolle, he mentioned that redshirt freshman linebackers Jordan Whiting and Dorian Bell are looking good. Bell has bulked up noticeably as well.

* Devon Torrence will not be playing baseball this summer and will concentrate solely on football for his senior season.

* When asked for the name of a young player in the secondary that Torrence sees a bright future for, he didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Dominic Clark. His work ethic is incredible. You know he’s just a freshman right now and he’s going through his little freshman bruises--you know just learning the system. But once he gets a hold on how they want things done here, and he really buys into the system, I really think he’s going to be a great player.”

* The other theme of the day was simply the early hour and how much sleep players got the night before. That wasn’t much of a concern for Brian Rolle, who actually got a healthy seven hours, because sleep doesn’t seem to affect him like it does normal humans.

“I do good with an hour-and-a-half or two hours. But I try to get in bed before 11 o‘clock.”

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