A Year Older, Fickell More Active at Practice
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The years don’t seem to be getting to Luke Fickell, and neither does the pressure.
When he first took over the Ohio State head-coaching job, it looked like Fickell was having a little trouble navigating through all of his new responsibilities.
Photo by Dan Harker
The new Luke Fickell is about the same as the old one, except that now he’s a year older.
“I don’t even know what day it is,” said Fickell, who turned 38 years old on Thursday.
“After those guys were chasing me around out there, I felt a little bit older than I think I am. I always say you’re as old as you act like you are. Sometimes I act like I’m 18. Sometimes I’ve got to act like I’m 38, so it just depends.”
It is in his new role as Head Coach, or the big boss man at Ohio State, where Fickell must act his true age. That has been the biggest adjustment for a first-time head coach from his days as an assistant under Jim Tressel.
“Just the day-to-day things that come across your desk. The practice schedules, the organization you have to do getting ready for every meeting. Every time you’ve got a team meeting you’ve just got to be organized in what you’re doing,” he said after practice Thursday.
“It used to be you were just worried about your own 12 guys coaching linebackers or just worry about the defense if you have a unit meeting. But it’s a different ballgame when you’ve got to worry about what’s going on every single day from start to end.”
But on the football field, he is a kid again.
When fall camp started earlier this month, Fickell made it a point to walk around practice, observing every position group the way Tressel used to do. He felt like it was his responsibility to know the team, inside and out, but Thursday he was back in a more comfortable role.
With Defensive Coordinator Jim Heacock working closely with the defensive tackles and ends at one end of the field, it was Fickell who jumped in to work with the Leos and Sam linebackers at the other end.
The former co-defensive coordinator coached the linebackers at Ohio State for the past nine seasons. He also has an extensive knowledge of the defensive line from his days as a nose guard for the Buckeyes in the mid 1990s.
“It’s first understanding what you’re doing because I think they all have the ability,” Fickell said of the team’s young defensive linemen.
“Now as long as they understand what they’re doing they can go out there and they can play relaxed and play football. It’s a bigger, physical game. I think those guys just have to be confident in what they’re doing so they can let their abilities play.”
Fickell said the Buckeyes would like to play eight guys in their defensive line rotation, which means some of those young guys have to come along in a hurry. One guy who seems to be doing just that is freshman Michael Bennett.
The Centerville prospect spent much of the day splitting time with Adam Bellamy and J.T. Moore on the first-team defensive line. Senior defensive end Nathan Williams missed Thursday’s practice, but it had to excite Fickell that so many guys were ready to jump in and play.
The head coach also jumped in to play a little quarterback during a defensive walk-through. He should probably stick to the other side of the ball because he kept putting the handoff on the grass. It probably didn’t help that he was handing off to linebacker James Hastings.
As for celebrating his birthday, Fickell doesn’t have much time for non-football related things right now. He has been staying at the team hotel during camp, but did get a chance to see his family on Thursday.
“They stopped by to say hello after practice,” Fickell said.
“Not that I’m trying to rush out of here but if somebody tackles me from behind, it might be one of the little guys.”
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.