COLUMBUS: One thing is for certain — new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer knows how to whip players and fans into a frenzy.
Before kickoff at Saturday’s Scarlet and Gray Game in Ohio Stadium, Meyer ran the “circle drill,” making two players square off as the team surrounds them.
Meyer started with junior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort and expected team captain John Simon, a senior defensive tackle. But what was most surprising was the seventh and final match was between starting quarterback Braxton Miller and backup Kenny Guiton.
Guiton was ready, throwing Miller to the ground.
“He got a good start,” Miller said.
“We do that before practice almost every day to get hyped up. I thought that was pretty fun that we both got called in there today,” Guiton said.
Miller said there were no hard feelings. Asked what they said to each other in the circle, Miller said, “[We were] just laughing at each other, like ‘Are we really in the circle drill together? That’s crazy.’ ”
Meyer said he ran the drill because he wanted “good energy.”
“Our quarterbacks are like anybody else, you’ve got to go put your nose on people,” Meyer said. “You’ve got to be very careful and very smart, sometimes I’ve been accused of neither. I think that’s fun for the fans. I know the players came out of their shoes a little bit.”
The star of the game was freshman receiver Michael Thomas of Woodland Hills Taft High School in Los Angeles and Fork Union Military Academy. A nephew of former star NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas caught 12 passes for 131 yards. He played for Miller’s Scarlet team, which won 20-14.
“He’s very talented,” Meyer said. “We have a JUGS [football throwing] machine set up over there, they go in there on their own. He asked me if it was open, I said, ‘Yeah, it’s open all the time.’ He’s working on the JUGS machine nonstop.
“He’s our most dedicated receiver and he’s a true freshman.
I’m not surprised he had that kind of day today.”
Miller said Thomas was back at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center working on the JUGS machine after the game.
Miller said he met Thomas at an all-star game in Florida two summers ago, and they work out together frequently.
Meyer decided to continue the practice instituted by former coach Jim Tressel of the team singing alma mater Carmen Ohio together in the end zone after the game.
“I’m a big fan of tradition,” Meyer said. “This is a school where you don’t have to create a whole lot of tradition. We’re honored to be able to keep the tradition, I believe coach Tressel started that. The guys loved it. I asked [graduate assistant] Kirk Barton, ‘Where do I go and what do I do.’ [He said] ‘Park it right here and look at the scoreboard.’ ”
Dunn stands fourth
Freshman running back Bri’onte Dunn of GlenOak carried seven times for 32 yards and caught two passes for 21 yards for the Gray. Meyer said the early enrollee would likely be fourth on the first depth chart behind Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.