One of the major keys to every deep post season run, regardless of sport, is keeping your players healthy. If you've got a good group of guys (or girls) and are able to do that, you've got to really like your chances.
At Ohio State, Urban Meyer and his staff have taken a rather cutting edge and proactive approach to keeping guys healthy with the 2,000 rep club. The 2,000 rep club is a group reserved for the handful of veterans Ohio State is voluntarily holding out of practice. These are guys that Urban describes as players who have played two years for the Buckeyes and have seen around 2,000 competitive snaps. With that many snaps it's clear that they've already proven themselves as contributors, and the focus then shifts to keeping them healthy for game days in the fall.
"I love it, I think we're on the cutting edge of being smart about the wear and tear that the student-athlete goes through. And we're being smart." Urban told ESPN in March.
Urban talked a little more about the strategy yesterday on the Dan Patrick show, describing a 2,000 rep guy as someone who has they've charted with "2,000 competitive reps, and not just because of concussions. The great thing about football right now is that everything is about the student athlete, and about their welfare and so we make it about how many live reps you're taking."
"In practice, sometimes you're getting more reps than in a game. Some guys play 10-15 reps during the course of a game, but in a hard, physical practice you're getting 60-80 competitive reps, so they really have to be ready. More than ever, we watch every competitive rep, and now it's charted. It's the first year we've done it like this."
In the short term, throughout the spring, Urban admits that they're sacrificing chemistry, but in the long term they're able to develop depth with the second and third string guys by getting them valuable, competitive snaps.
"Here's the thing, you really have to think this through. The issue is you're losing a little bit of chemistry in the unit. In the offensive line, you hear stories about a cohesive offensive line. When you hear that story it's absolutely correct, and I think we were a great example the last three years with an extremely close group that has a little chemistry going. You lose that completely because you are sticking some guys in there who are not quite ready yet."
When it's all said and done, Urban believes that instituting the 2,000 rep club is good for all parties involved.
"I think we are being smart even though you look out and see how awful it is sometimes watching practice. It's still the right thing to do."