Buckeyes say they’re not dogging it vs. big underdog
Safety Christian Bryant, making an interception last week against California, says he’s ready for today’s game, but he’d rather be playing a tougher opponent.
Urban Meyer was prepared to turn up the heat on his team this week: Today’s game against Florida A&M is an uncircle-the-calendar game. The Rattlers are a mediocre Football Championship Subdivision program, and the game comes between the Buckeyes’ road contest against a Pac-12 school and the Big Ten opener next week against Wisconsin.
It would be human nature to worry about complacency, and Meyer was geared up to fight it. Then the coach found out something heartening about his team.
“I didn’t have to,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “I was ready to. We were bowed up ready to go to work on Tuesday. I told our coaches to be really (angry) on Tuesday.”
But the players didn’t need any extra prodding.
“We actually came out and had two good practices,” running back Jordan Hall said. “I think he’s happy with how we came out. I don’t know if he expected that. I think we’ve grown up as a team this year and know what we want to do.”
Florida A&M (1-2) is a 50-point underdog — at least. The Rattlers are here for exposure and a $900,000 paycheck. If they were to somehow win, it would rank among the biggest upsets in college football history.
“We know the type of opponent we’re going to face,” senior safety Christian Bryant said on Monday, “but that really doesn’t give us any reason to lay off or slow down any of our tempo. We’re still going to go out and practice like we’re facing a top-10 opponent. It’s still a game, and we’re trying to win it.”
But Bryant is among the more candid Buckeyes. He acknowledged that he’d rather be facing a stiffer challenge.
“I would,” he said. “I like to showcase our talent. I’d like to play bigger games, but it’s really out of our control. I’m not really sure who makes the schedule. We just have to face whatever team is put in front of us.
“Right now the team has its priorities straight. We’re not going to look past or bypass Florida A&M. They’re coming into Ohio Stadium, so they’ll see what the Ohio State Buckeyes are all about.”
Florida A&M is better known for its flamboyant marching band, but the band is staying in Tallahassee as a consequence of the death of a drum major in a hazing incident in 2011.
As a football team, the Rattlers don’t have much to scare Ohio State. They have lost their past two games, to Tennessee State and Samford. Their quarterback, Damien Fleming, has thrown five interceptions, and Florida A&M has averaged only 3.0 yards per run. Defensively, the Rattlers rely on blitzing out of a 3-4 alignment.
Though the Buckeyes have looked good in their three opening wins, they’re not a finished product.
“There’s enough to work on,” Meyer said. “Just flip on the film and I can show you at least three dozen things on both sides of the ball we have to work on.
“We have very smart players. … (They understand) we’re not playing Wisconsin, we’re not playing Nebraska, we’re not playing The Team Up North.
“However, they know we’re playing a very athletic team and have to cover all bases because they’ll blitz every down. We have to play hard or you’ll look silly.”
One OSU player who certainly won’t be looking past Florida A&M is running back Carlos Hyde. The senior has finished serving a three-game suspension, and fellow running back Jordan Hall said that Hyde began studying Rattlers game film last week.
The status of quarterback Braxton Miller, trying to come back from a sprained medial collateral knee ligament, is less certain. He has practiced on a limited basis, but Meyer said a decision on whether to play him won’t be made until the day of the game.
If Miller is held out, Kenny Guiton will make his second career start. He dazzled in his first one, last week at California. Guiton won’t have to play as brilliantly against the Rattlers.