Bye week a mix of development preparation for Ohio State football

OSU redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas (left) outruns defenders following a catch against Kent State on Sept. 13 at Ohio Stadium. Thomas led OSU in receiving with 77 yards on 2 catches with a touchdown in OSU’s 66-0 win.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThe Ohio State football team is moving full steam ahead during its bye week.Coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday that his team has already started preparing for its matchup against Cincinnati next week and added that he is excited about the development of his young players. “Its fun right now,” Meyer said of his plethora of young playmakers. “I kind of like where we’re at. We are still not the finished product, but a lot of those guys are young and they are going to be here for a while now.”One of those players is redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas, who, despite playing sporadically as a freshman in 2012, sat out the 2013 season as a redshirt. Meyer said Thomas was not ready to play last season, but noted that he’s vastly improved, which is why he has been successful early in 2014. “He is a good guy. He was (also) a mistake guy. Every third play he would screw it up. That is why last year he wasn’t ready to play and that was really hard for him,” Meyer said. “But he has come out and he is not the same mistake guy and he is playing much better. That is not surprising, the success he has had, because he has practiced that way.”Thomas’ improvement is clear, as he currently leads the OSU offense in receptions (11), receiving yards (214) and receiving touchdowns (4). Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer agreed with his coach and said Thomas has shown growth from last season to now.“He has done really well and he is going to continue to do well based upon what he has done in camp, what he had to do going through scout work (in 2013), and getting better,” Spencer said.Another position that seems to be improving is the offensive line, which gave up seven sacks against Virginia Tech, before rebounding to keep redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett upright for the entirety of the game against Kent State.Meyer said that while he has been pleased with the tackles on the offensive line, the interior of the line remains questionable.Junior offensive lineman Taylor Decker said Wednesday that while there are some growing pains, he has been encouraged by the young talent across the offensive line.“They are definitely all talented guys and they have a ton of ability. I have been really impressed with them so far. You can just see what they are capable of,” Decker said. “If they just start stringing practices together, where they do it over and over again, and become consistent, they are going to be really good players.”Currently in the middle of their bye week, Spencer said the Buckeyes are working on all facets of their game, as well as trying to rest up.  “Guys that are hurt, obviously we gotta heal up and at the same token, we are trying to develop guys from the bottom up and we are trying to work on special skill sets that we have to get better on,” Spencer said. “There’s obviously things you can see in the film that, even in our big wins and in the close ones, there are things we have to get better on and bye weeks are the perfect time to do that.”Spencer admitted that although there is plenty to work on, he is looking forward to a week off from actual game play. “You have three practices and then you don’t have to go though the battle of the game,” he said. “It will be good to get these three practices in and then kind of take a deep breath.”Spencer and the Buckeyes are set to do that Saturday before returning to action Sept. 27 to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. read more