One of the biggest obstacles that the Buckeyes have faced this season as they prepare for their championship chase is trying to get to game speed without being in an actual game.
There are plenty of reasons why Ohio State could make excuses, but they haven't done it. Only five games total, playing just three times in the last five weeks, having the most important game on the schedule cancelled and no Senior Day to celebrate this year's special group of upperclassmen ... so how do they stay locked in at practice and try to focus on just getting better against themselves?
I asked Coach Day on Sunday about that very process, whether it was a case-by-case basis for some guys to get up to game speed, or if he finds that the team is doing things at the macro level at practice that can help simulate a gameday environment.
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"It's a little bit of both," Day said. "There's nothing like getting game reps, but we are trying to simulate game reps in practice the best we can. That way we can get those guys game ready even though they're not playing in games. One of the things I tell guys all the time is 'hey, you're going against really good players on the other side of the ball.' We talk to them about that in recruiting. We say iron sharpens iron. If you can play with these guys, you can play with anybody in the country.
"And I think that's why you saw our offensive line play well against Michigan State. When you're blocking Tommy Togiai, Tyreke Smith and Jonathon Cooper every day, you have an opportunity to get better. I think that's a great example of that right there."
It's a great point, and frankly a luxury that most teams don't have. Whatever the Buckeyes have been doing to foster competition during the week and before the season began seems to be effective because despite limited opportunities, they've been one of the best teams in the country again this year.
Even though it's been hard to get into a rhythm, he thinks they've created a great environment to simulate games when they've had cancellations.
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