Working out the kinks

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The preferred measurement is years.

At this point, Tom Herman can only count practices.

The process of installing an offense obviously takes time, and the new Ohio State offensive coordinator hasn't had nearly as much as he'd like as he teaches the spread offense in training camp.

The Buckeyes had spring practices to lay the groundwork. They've had their playbooks for a while now, spent the summer working on the passing game on their own and Herman has been throwing everything he can at them during the first week of workouts. But until it gets a little harder for him to rattle off the number of practices he's coached with the program, there are going to be growing pains.

"The neat thing about a staff not turning over year after year is the fact that you've got fourth- and fifth-year seniors that have run the same offense for four and five years," Herman said after practice Tuesday. "So, retention, you still teach from the ground up every single time you start spring practice or you start two-a-days, but the retention for the veterans is usually there.

"For us, this is Practice 18 in this offense, so there are still some things that aren't second nature to our guys. Slowly but surely, that will come."

The Buckeyes have added two more practices since then this week, putting them near the end of the first phase of the installation plan Herman and coach Urban Meyer drew up for camp.

That blueprint called for going through just about everything the offense might do this season over six practices before scaling back to "reteach the finer points" and start cleaning up the details before the opener against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 1.

The early reviews from both Meyer and Herman have been positive thanks largely to the offseason preparation, most notably improvements in the passing game that have apparently already shown up thanks to throwing sessions the quarterbacks and wide receivers organized in the summer. But performing in June is different than August when the pads come on and the intensity is dialed up, and the faster tempo the coaching staff is pushing only increases the degree of difficulty.

"There's no doubt it does, because you don't have time to think," Herman said. "Once the offense becomes second nature, the whole game slows down and the tempo doesn't seem near as fast for the guys that are doing it.

"Right now it seems like we're going a thousand miles an hour because their brains are trying to churn and it's not second nature for them. So once it becomes second nature the tempo internally will slow down, though externally we'll stay the same."

If the Buckeyes aren't quite to that point yet, they're at least closer to it than they were the first time around in spring practice.

And they're certainly much closer now than they were the first time they were handed the playbook to begin the transition.

"I was confused. I was like, 'What is this?'" running back Carlos Hyde said. "Coming from the offense that we ran last year to this, I was like, 'I don't know how I'm going to learn this.' But I had to, and I caught on in the spring pretty quick.

"The first day of spring, we had no clue going out there. We have a better feel now."

It should only get better with time.