OSU Staff Trying to Figure Out What They Have at Receiver
By Tony Gerdeman
Last season was a lost year for the Buckeyes in many respects. The interim coaching situation, the suspensions, the injuries, it all added up to a season without an achievable goal or a satisfying finish.
If there was one positive that came out of it, however, it was the amount of experience that Ohio State's wide receivers got.
Four different redshirt freshmen or sophomores started at least one game last season, and that doesn't even include true freshman Devin Smith, who never started a game yet led the team with 294 yards receiving.
With Devier Posey serving his suspensions, sophomores Corey Brown and Chris Fields both started eight games last season. Redshirt freshman Verlon Reed started five games before suffering an injury.
Redshirt freshman T.Y. Williams also got a start against Purdue, after playing in just six games prior to that point. This fact should give a pretty good indication as to why the Boilermaker game went the way it did.
What all of that experience did was better prepare these young players for their next go-round in 2012, a fact definitely not lost on new receivers coach Zach Smith.
"The best thing that happened for my group is that they got a lot of experience at a young age," he acknowledged.
"A lot of times you're walking into a situation this coming season where some guys left and you've got some guys who haven't really played a lot. Right now, we're walking into a situation with a bunch of young guys who have played. It gives them experience. They've been in the battle.
"They know what it's like to play in all of these great stadiums in the Big Ten. It's really an asset for them, and really for me as a position coach because I know I have guys who have been through it and done it. They've played in games, so it's obviously one of the things that we can build off of.”
Even though Smith won't be starting from the ground up with his players, he will still have to figure out where the players are lacking, and build them up in that regard. He'll also have to find their strengths and exploit them.
Fortunately, much like his receivers will have a leg up thanks to their experience, so will Smith in that he has the experience of last year's receivers coach Stan Drayton, who remained part of Meyer's staff.
Drayton will no doubt pass on all of his knowledge of the receivers to Smith, thereby giving him even more data to work with.
Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman have both said that their job is to identify their best weapons on offense, and get the ball to them in positions to excel. Smith's role in this will be crucial. They need to figure out what each of these receivers can do, and also get them to do precisely what this offense requires.
"The base fundamentals of a receiver that I look for—you won't play on the field if you can't do a couple of things, the first is that you have to be able to block," Smith said.
"We will be the best blocking receivers in the country. And then we have to be able to make big plays. You've got to be able to catch the ball and make things happen. If you can't do those two things, you're not going to be on the field.
"It's Ohio State, we're going to have plenty of athletes that can do those two, so if you can't, it's not going to work out. You're not going to be on the field until you get that. Those are really the two evaluations that I make on every play."
With the 2012 recruiting class (nearly) over, the coaches can finally begin to sit down and go over last season's film and begin the evaluation process on the returning players.
To this point, however, Meyer still doesn't know exactly what they have in this group of receivers, but he seems to have a pretty good idea of what they need.
Speaking on Signing Day last week, Meyer gave an idea of some of the offensive needs that he is searching for.
"Speed at the skill," he lamented, when asked if there was something that his recruiting class was missing.
"I would say some of the things we like to do offensively, you're going to hear us talk -- we want the defense to defend the width and length of the field. There's only one way to defend the width, that's flat speed. We've tried it. There's no other way that you can make a defense defend the entire width of the field.
"We're still lacking that game-changer that you can hand the ball to speed-wise. I think we got some bigger guys, but we're still looking for a difference maker in one of those 10.4 100 meter guys that can change the game."
With one open slot in the 2012 recruiting class, the race is still on for that game-changer.
Five-star receiver Stefon Diggs (6-0 185), out of Olney, Maryland, is one of the more explosive receivers in the nation. A consensus top-ten player in the 2012 class, Diggs is set to choose between Florida, Ohio State, Auburn and Maryland this Friday night at 10 pm.
If he selects the Buckeyes, he would be the highest-rated receiver Ohio State has landed since Ken Yon Rambo in 1997, whom several services had ranked as the top receiver in the nation.
Diggs could instantly give Meyer exactly what he is looking for in a playmaker. It would also fit what Ohio State's receivers coach is looking for as well.
"We want to score touchdowns," Smith said.
"That's what our goal is going to be, to hold onto the ball and score touchdowns, on special teams and on offense. We're going to try to do that on every single play."
Now the coaches just have to figure out if they have the guys who can do that.
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.