Ohio State notebook: Buckeyes over the hump on toughest week of practice

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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There are three days left in the part of Ohio State’s preseason camp known as Hell Week, and assistant coach Kerry Coombs said it’s a rite of passage for any team that wants to consider itself capable of big things.

“You’ve got to feel bad before you feel good,” the cornerbacks coach and special-teams coordinator said, repeating one of coach Urban Meyer’s mantras. “And it’s true. And it’s got to mean something.”

Hell Week consists of nine practices over six days, culminating with an extensive scrimmage on Saturday morning. Three days include two practices each, the last coming on Friday. It’s as much a team-building exercise, Coombs said, as it is a football necessity for the players.

“They’re not going to war, they’re going to football practice,” Coombs said. “They’re with their teammates. They’re with their buddies. They’re going to kind of link arms and get through it together.

“And that’s when teams are made, in my opinion. It’s hard on them physically, it’s even harder on them mentally, but I think we become a better football team at the end of the week as a result of it.”

Buckeyes ranked fourth

Ohio State, ranked No. 2 in the USA Today coaches’ preseason poll that is part of the formula determining who plays in the national championship game, was ranked No. 4 yesterday by Sports Illustrated. Defending national champion Alabama is No. 1, followed by Stanford and Texas A&M, with Oregon No. 5.

Last year, the SI preseason top five was Alabama, followed by Southern California, Louisiana State, Oregon and Oklahoma. Ohio State was No. 22, and Notre Dame was not ranked. At season’s end, Alabama beat Notre Dame for the national title. Ohio State, ineligible for the postseason, finished 12-0. Meanwhile, USC slumped to 7-6, and LSU went 10-3. Oregon finished second in the final Associated Press poll after going 12-1 and beating Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma went 10-3 and lost to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

Galloway’s take

Former Ohio State receiver Joey Galloway spent a day at OSU this week as he and ESPN, including fellow analyst and former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese, sized up the Buckeyes. Galloway was asked yesterday for one overriding impression.

“OSU may have the best stable of running backs in the country in terms of depth and versatility, with the addition of the two freshmen to the vets like (Carlos) Hyde and (Jordan) Hall,” Galloway said.He was referring to freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott, both of whom are considered candidates for playing time. With Hyde suspended for the first three games, the other returning players are Hall, who is coming back from a knee injury that knocked him out of the last half of the 2012 season, veteran Rod Smith and sophomores Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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