Unless you have been living under a rock (and that rock lives under an even larger and more isolated rock), you’re pretty well aware that the Buckeyes have brought in six new defensive backs in the 2017 recruiting class, and half of them are 5-star prospects.
Losing three members of the secondary to the first round of the NFL Draft means that there are now three jobs wide-freaking-open on the Ohio State defense. While many point to the reinforcements who are donning the Scarlet and Gray for the first time, those who have been around are well aware that now is the time to make their respective marks.
“They know,” defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “They know it’s their time. Not that they didn’t know it was their time before, but now Gareon’s gone. He’s not here anymore. That’s 2,000 snaps that have left the building. Malik’s gone. They’re not with us anymore.”
But while panic may be setting in with the fans, Schiano is an optimist, and he is an optimist because history has shown him all the proof he needs.
“These guys have a great opportunity,” he said of the returning defensive backs. “That’s what I look at. It’s a great example too. Nobody knew anything about Malik Hooker at this time last year, other than he was on the team. Then next thing you know he’s a consensus All-American and will probably be a first-round draft pick, so who’s next? That’s kind of what the standard is around here and that’s what we look to.”
Even though new Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson continues to point to the fact that there was no wrongdoing found on his end with the way things ended at Indiana, there are still questions that remain unresolved simply because there hasn’t been enough time to pass for everyone to move on yet.
Wilson, meanwhile, moves on every day.
Asked if there was anything that he felt he needed to switch up from his time at Indiana, he gave an answer that would fit right in line with Urban Meyer’s own thought process.
“I think like we tell our players every day, you’re always as a coach and a player you’re trying to get better,” Wilson said last week. “I just told our guys earlier today that we’ve had a couple of good days. We need a good day tomorrow. We’ll come in the weight room or we’ll watch tape. And I say, ‘If today was my last day coaching, I hope it was the best it could be.’ If today was my last day with my wife and kids, I hope it was the best it could be. Because as you go through, every day you’re trying to get better. So I’ve never had a day as a coach I was not trying to get better. I think as a coach you’re always self-evaluating yourself.”
The Ohio State offensive line loves to run tempo because they enjoy watching a defense wear down. In order to run tempo, however, the offensive line needs to be in total control of themselves, and that’s where a captain like center Billy Price comes in.
And that’s not just during the games.”You’re at Penn State and it’s 107,000 people and it’s a white out and it’s chaotic and Mike (Jordan) kind of has that freshman look on his face,” he said. “It’s my job and Pat (Elflein’s) job to kind of calm guys down.”
“Today we were going really, really fast and guys were huffing and puffing and I was saying, ‘Come on, let’s go, we’re good, we’re good,’ he said. “We work, we run and we train in the off-season for moments like this and moments to put a defense on their back and really take advantage of that.”
For fans and coaches, one of the fun aspects of camp is seeing which players are stepping up after finally getting a chance to show what they can do with a decent number of reps. It’s always interesting to learn who is standing out, especially when it kind of catches the coaching staff by surprise.
So, were there any surprises after the first week of spring camp?
“We didn’t really know what the incoming freshmen would look like and defensively they’re all very impressive guys, every one of them,” Schiano said. “That’s not a surprise, but you don’t know until you coach them, so that was good. I think there’s a high expectation level here and I think our players embrace that.”