Monday, August 8, 2011

'ENOUGH TALK' AS OHIO STATE HITS THE PRACTICE FIELD FOR FALL CAMP

Luke Fickell
TBT/Joe Stueve
COLUMBUS — Ohio State Head Coach Luke Fickell is through with speculating on the upcoming 2011 season. After conducting his first day of fall camp as Ohio State's main man, Fickell said his players are ready to take action.

"We've had enough talk," he said. "I think that's probably the biggest thing that we get into. You go to media days and you go to all of those things, it's just what you do ... To me, it's going to be about actions."

Fickell said he seemed pleased with the attitude of the opening practice for the 16th ranked Buckeyes.

"Guys are working together as a team and they understand it's all about each other," Fickell said. "I think they've got the right focus."

With the turbulent offseason that the Buckeyes experienced, Fickell said it was exciting to get back out onto the practice field and play football.

"It's therapeutic for a lot of us," he said. "As much for the coaches as it is for the players."

HOWARD LOOKING POISED ... Junior cornerback Travis Howard stood out on day one. Now wearing the No. 7 jersey, Howard put opposing receivers on lockdown throughout 11-on-11 drills. The Miami, FL native seems ready to fill the shoes of former Buckeye cornerback Chimdi Chekwa.

With the departures of Chekwa, Cameron Heyward, Ross Homan and Brian Rolle, the defense rolled out quite a few new faces in its first unit. And with that lack of experience and leadership, Howard has a chance to really stand out.

VRABEL BEING VERBAL ... While strolling into the practice area, it became impossible not to hear new linebackers coach Mike Vrabel. Recently hired to fill Fickell's old position over the linebackers, Vrabel was clearly making a point to his players that he is not going to be easily impressed.

"I just never pay a lot of attention to (Vrabel)," Fickell joked. "He fit in just fine. You can see that the guys take to him, the coaches have taken to him."

QUARTERBACK BATTLES ... After practice, Fickell made it clear that he wants two attributes out of his starting quarterback, whomever that may be.

"To me, it's confidence and leadership," he said. "You can lead in different ways, you don't have to be the vocal guy. But you've got to have confidence, you've got to exude confidence. Guys have to believe in you and I think that's the thing that we're just trying to develop. They all have the ability. We just got to make sure who's going to fit the program and what we do well the best."

Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller took a portion of the first team reps under center. Without the defense rushing the pocket, Miller didn't force many balls and took off running on quite a few dropbacks. Senior Joe Bauserman, sophomore Kenny Guiton and freshman Taylor Graham all received equal playing time with Miller.

Photo by The Buckeye Times/Joe Stueve
BOOM TAKING ON LEADERSHIP ROLE ...
Daniel "Boom" Herron was very active in his first practice, both with and without the ball. Herron, who is suspended for the first five games of the season, was constantly in other players' ears.

On a swing pass in the flat to running back Rod Smith, Herron was yelling for Smith to take on the closing defenders. Instead, the freshman back rolled out of bounds. Herron emphatically told Smith to "Split the defenders! Split 'em!"