Those who pass the Ohio State football team’s outdoor practice fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center this week don’t have to wonder who the Buckeyes are playing this weekend. They just have to listen when the team is working under the lights.
The Buckeyes practices with piped in crowd noise in days before a road game and this week one song is repeating: House of Pain’s 1992 hit “Jump Around,” the song that puts the crowd into a frenzy between the third and fourth quarters at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The focus is clearly on the Badgers this week, but OSU head coach Urban Meyer joked Wednesday night that he’s a little tired of the song already.
“I’m going to have to change that,” Meyer said. “We always do crowd noise (during practices before a road game), and I told them to get that stuff out. We’ll hear that enough in a couple of days.”
Meyer and the Buckeyes have enough to worry about besides “Jump Around.” The head coach talked about what it will take to stop Wisconsin’s powerful rushing attack, one that piled up a school-record 564 yards last week at Indiana.
“You have to be gap sound,” Meyer said. “They’ve done a good job recently.”
Meyer added that Wisconsin presents a difficult challenge for opposing defenses because of its different offensive line formations.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in walkthrough and practice getting lined up,” he said. “You’ve got to get lined up first and No. 2 you have to tackle.”
Wisconsin fifth-year senior quarterback Curt Phillips will make his second start of the season against the Buckeyes. Meyer said he did not know until watching film that Phillips is another running threat for the Badgers.
“They want him to run a little bit,” Meyer said. “They run some zone read and some of the spread offense with him in there, which creates a whole other group of issues you have to deal with. … So I’m concerned about him running the ball.”
One thing that will help Ohio State’s defense will be the return of fifth-year senior linebacker Etienne Sabino, who will be back on the field Saturday for the first time since suffering a broken fibula Oct. 6 against Nebraska.
Sabino will man the strongside linebacker spot along middle LB Zach Boren and Ryan Shazier on the strongside. The trio will be on the field for much of the game as Ohio State will likely be in its base defense more than its nickel package.
“It’s been a good week for those guys,” Meyer said of the linebackers. “Having Sabino back gives you a sense of stability that we haven’t had in a while.”
The bulk of the health-related news updated by Meyer was good. Freshman special teams player Armani Reeves will be back on the field, and junior center Corey Linsley and fifth-year seniors Jake Stoneburner and Orhian Johnson – all limited recently by minor ailments – should be good to go.
The only player to not get a clean bill of health was sophomore defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who Meyer described as “a little banged up.” Bennett will be available for Saturday, however, if needed.
Finally, Meyer said that Boren will not do double duty against the Badgers. Meyer had mentioned in previous weeks that Boren could see time back at fullback once Sabino returned. However, Meyer said that was “out the door for this game.”
Boren’s absence on offense does create a hole at tailback. With freshman Bri'onte Dunn out for the UW game because of a MCL sprain, Meyer said senior fullback Adam Homan would be the team’s No. 3 tailback behind junior Carlos Hyde and sophomore Rod Smith.