COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -After more than three weeks spent on conditioning or memorizing the playbook, the Ohio State Buckeyes can finally get around to concentrating on an opponent.
Youngstown State, the second-ranked Buckeyes' opponent on Saturday in the season opener, is officially in the crosshairs.
``It's so crazy that it came so fast. It's incredible,'' said tailback Chris ``Beanie'' Wells. ``It seems like just yesterday we were getting off that plane coming home from the loss against LSU and now we're here and ready to begin a new era and a new season.''
It's not hard to tell that the opener is just around the corner.
``We're getting pretty eager. You could tell toward the last week of camp that guys are on edge, there's a little more talking, a little more chirping, and we're ready to play somebody else other than ourselves,'' wide receiver Brian Hartline said.
The Buckeyes had the past weekend off - their last until Thanksgiving. They returned to campus Sunday night with Ohio State's 119th season at hand.
Unlike a typical year, coach Jim Tressel and his staff had so many returnees in fall camp that they could dispense with some of the orientation stuff. Sure, they still had to provide introductory information for the incoming freshmen, but not for the grizzled vets filling up uniforms.
Ohio State has more than 40 players who are fourth- or fifth-year seniors. On top of that, it has 18 of 22 starters back. That eliminates a lot of the basics, allowing the upperclassmen to deal with nuances while pulling along the rookies who need to retain more and at a faster pace if they want to keep up.
It has been a luxury to have a fifth-year quarterback who survived the wars of last year's 11-2 season, along with fellow second-year starters Wells, Hartline and wide receiver Brian Robiskie.
``Todd Boeckman has great command of what we're trying to do,'' Tressel said. ``It's fun to watch him in practice; he has a thorough understanding of what we're doing. It is great to have that type of comfort zone at your quarterback position. You always love going into a season with a veteran quarterback.''
Boeckman's experience helps him mesh with his receivers.
``The big thing that jumps out at me is timing, because timing comes with experience,'' said Robiskie, who led the Buckeyes with 55 catches last year, three more than Hartline. ``Any time we're on the field and we've been in a position we've seen before, we can come back in (to the huddle) and it's real easy.''
He snapped his fingers to show just how quickly they are able to make adjustments.
``We've taken that next step,'' Robiskie said.
Hartline said it's almost reached the point of reading minds.
``We're definitely on the same page. We're kind of at the point where we know what he's thinking,'' he said. ``There's more of a connection there. There's more of a chemistry. We feel a lot more comfortable.''
During moments of stress, familiarity permits the players to play on instinct. Instead of desperation, there's more of a feeling of calm.
``It's just the verbal communication. They understand,'' said assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell. ``So it's a lot easier this year over last year.''

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