When an athlete or a team is on a roll, they typically want to do anything they can to keep the momentum.
One of the best ways to do that can be simply playing again as soon as possible, but the Ohio State football team didn’t have that opportunity coming off a 52-24 win against Maryland on Oct. 4. Now, the Buckeyes have to find some way to keep the gears spinning coming off a second bye week just five games into the season.
After players spent their weekend off either with friends, family, coaches or even out of the country, coach Urban Meyer said it will be important to find a way to keep the team rolling.
“We have to restake that momentum,” Meyer said Monday. “This is a little bit uncharted waters for myself to have this many bye weeks early in the season. We got to get ready to go.”
OSU’s first week off came after a 66-0 trampling of Kent State at home on Sept. 13. The Buckeyes followed that break with another win against Cincinnati before topping the Terrapins.
Meyer said the team has a “standard operating procedure” for how game weeks are run, but he added he’ll meet with the team to discuss how to keep the momentum coming out of a week off.
“I’m going to talk to them like grown men, say this is where we’re at, this is what we have to do,” he said. “You’ve had three days off, let’s pick up and go.”
Even before the weekend off, the Buckeyes had a lighter week of practice than normal, senior linebacker Curtis Grant said, but that doesn’t mean the team slacked off.
“We had a great practice for those last three days, it was very intense,” Grant said Monday. “But coach Meyer gave us a little bit of leeway. He didn’t really kill us last week. So we’ll be ready for this week.”
While the offense continued a successful run of games against Maryland, the Buckeyes entered the bye week coming off one of their best defensive performances of the season. Grant and the rest of the OSU defense held the Terrapins to just 66 yards rushing and 310 yards total, coming out to an average of 4.8 yards per play.
Redshirt-sophomore safety Tyvis Powell said having an extra week off after a strong performance can have one of two outcomes — one good and one bad.
“They way I see it could be good is if we basically pick up where we left off, we get that momentum going, it’s good to keep it going and keep playing and progressing,” he said Monday. “But if we come back this week and be lackadaisical because we had a week off, then I could see where it could be bad.”
Powell went on to say he expects the good possibility to be the outcome for the Buckeyes as they set their sights on another Big Ten game this weekend.
Even though it could stunt momentum, there could still be positives of having an extra week off during the season.
Junior offensive lineman Taylor Decker said the bye week was a chance to work on getting healthy, but added he could’ve done with a little bit less time off.
“It’s nice to get some rest on the bye week and get your body back, start feeling a little better than you have,” he said Monday. “But then you see the other teams playing and it’s fun being out there. Definitely better than sitting at home.”
While the Buckeyes did practice a few times during the week, a weekend off gave the players a chance to do things along the lines of sitting at home and watching football for a change, instead of playing it.
Powell said he spent most of his Saturday watching football, and did it away from anyone else from the program.
“Everybody went they own separate ways,” he said.
But some players still made sure to stay close to teammates — at least partially — over the weekend. Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer said he and others from his position group spent Saturday watching football at wide receivers coach Zach Smith’s house.
“It’s always good to just watch some football, because that’s what I’ve done my whole life,” Spencer said.
He still found some time for personal life, though, as he said his “girlfriend kind of took over my weekend.”
“I met with her, met her brother, and brother’s wife and son, then we went out to one of her friend’s house, so it was an eventful weekend,” he said.
But not every player on the team even felt the need to go back home or spend time at a coach’s residence.
Take senior tight end Jeff Heuerman for example: “How’d I spend my bye week? Went to Mexico.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to the field on Saturday to face Rutgers at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.