Two-Minute Drill: Updates from Monday Post-Practice Interviews
By Tony Gerdeman
Monday was the final chance that the media will have to speak to the team prior to game week, so we had an opportunity to speak to Luke Fickell, Tom Herman, Tim Hinton, Kerry Coombs and a few players as well.
The mood was much more upbeat than Saturday when Urban Meyer talked about how half of his team was not yet ready to play a game of football.
Tom Herman Updates
* When asked to quantify Braxton Miller's improvement from this point last year to now, Herman chose to quantify it in the quality of sleep that he gets at night, saying it's much better than it was a year ago. He added Miller is "head and shoulders further ahead".
* Herman said that Miller isn't a finished product, but joked that it's a lot easier to come to work now than it was in the past.
* Regarding Miller's understanding of the offense, Herman said that "we speak the same language" now, regarding schemes, defenses, fundamentals, nuances, etc.
* Herman said that while there are more offensive weapons at his disposal, the key is that the veterans are better than they were a year ago. He mentioned that Evan Spencer is now a starting receiver, joining Devin Smith and Philly Brown.
* Herman also said the tight ends were better, adding, "I challenge anybody in the country to have better tight ends at one and two."
* He did also say that the infusion of young talent is also quite nice.
* He said that the improvement comes from repetition, and building an identity. They didn't have an identity at this point last year, they were still learning. He added that they need to be careful not to lose the identity they have built simply in an effort to use all of these "new toys".
* Herman said that they are shooting for 70% completions from Braxton Miller, or at least 2 out of 3 on average. Herman said that he needs to do a better job of calling plays to make that happen, but also that Miller needs to improve here as well.
Jeff Heuerman Updates
* Heuerman said the offense is better simply because it is more consistent, and consistency is something that he specifically has been working on.
* He said last year they were simply trying to get lined up properly. Now, things have slowed down and the execution is better because everybody understands their purpose in the offense.
* He said that Braxton Miller is noticeably more aware. He's getting to the third and fourth read this season, where as if he made it to the second read last year, he would take off if there was nothing there.
* Asked what he expects from Miller this year, Heuerman didn't say a word, he simply gave the Heisman pose.
Kenny Guiton Updates
* Asked about being part of Ohio State history forever with his Purdue game last year, Guiton said that it hasn't really sunk in, and also that he wants to add to it.
* Guiton echoed every single other member of the offense when he cited Evan Spencer as a guy who has really stepped up over the last eight months. He also mentioned Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall as "two slot guys that just go. They just go."
* Guiton said that the talent of the two freshmen absolutely stands out. He's out there practicing with them every day, so he certainly sees it. On Wilson he said, "He's a big play guy just waiting to happen."
* Adding to what Herman said, Guiton agreed that the quarterbacks and the quarterback coach are all speaking the same language. They know the lingo now, to paraphrase Guiton.
* Guiton says sometimes he thinks about "what if I went to school somewhere else", but says he's happy at OSU.
Braxton Miller Updates
* Miller said that the offense is on track for game week. He said at this point last year, the offense was moving much slower, but now things have really sped up because their understanding is greatly improved.
* He said he's working on carrying the ball higher in order to avoid fumbles. He said Tom Herman has been on him about it.
* He said that his teammates and he don't talk about his Heisman candidacy, but sometimes when they see him on ESPN, his teammates will tease him a bit.
* Miller said that the one area where he has improved the most over the course of fall camp is timing and ball placement.
* He also said his awareness of the defense was greater, citing a blitz pickup in practice. Freshman DB Vonn Bell was blitzing, and Miller attacked it. Bell asked Miller how he knew, and Miller told him that he noticed Bell's body posture.
* Miller said he wants to throw 30 times per game, and he talks to Herman about it all of the time.
Kerry Coombs Updates
* Coombs said that Armani Reeves and Doran Grant would be the starting cornerbacks in week one. Grant will handle the boundary, and Reeves will be at field corner. The freshman corners will all be at field initially. Reeves will also mix in at boundary.
* Asked about the possibility of Bradley Roby being a captain, Coombs said that he doesn't make those decisions, but that Roby has always been a professional in his room, calling him "awesome".
* Asked if he has any concerns about the defense, Coombs replied, "Nope."
* He said that Tyvis Powell is being pushed by Vonn Bell at nickel, but also added that he hopes everybody is being pushed. He also said that Powell could play corner if need be, but it didn't sound like it would be needed.
* Coombs said that he hopes everybody is fighting to get onto the field, because if you just came to Ohio State to watch everybody else play, then you're in the wrong place.
* He said that sophomore Devan Bogard is now healthy and battling with Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown and Cam Burrows for the dime spot.
* He said the senior safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett have been fantastic with all of the younger guys. They are patient, but assertive, and they correct mistakes immediately.
* Coombs again raved about both Cameron Johnston and Drew Basil. He said Basil's kickoffs have more hangtime than last year, and he's more accurate with them as well.
* Coombs said that Basil is not some "weirdo kicker", that he's an actual football player.
* Right now Jordan Hall, Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott and Bradley Roby are all working at kick return per Coombs, he added that Rod Smith is still there as well, and he was one of the better returners in the conference last year.
* Punt returner is Philly Brown, as it should be after two TD returns last year.
* Asked about his kick coverage units, Coombs said that "You can never have enough piranhas," adding that they have a handful right now.
Doran Grant Updates
* Grant said he's more comfortable and confident than he's ever been. He views himself as a starter, but doesn't take it for granted, knowing that everybody is battling for his spot.
* He looks forward to playing opposite Bradley Roby and knows that teams will be attacking him because they don't want to throw to Roby's side. "To me, it's just more opportunity in my eyes."
* He said that all of the freshmen are talented, they're just thinking too much right now.
* Grant added that he's not feeling any pressure, he's just hungry for the opportunity.
Armani Reeves Updates
* Reeves is excited for the opportunity to start, saying that it means a lot coming all the way from Massachusetts. He'll have family watching, so it will be fun.
* He doesn't look at it as a one-game thing, either. He said that he's going to continue working as he has and whatever happens happens. He said he's still going to do his job, whatever it may be.
* He said the competition at cornerback has been very heated. "We're all trying to get on the field."
Luke Fickell Updates
* Fickell said that right now his three starting linebackers would likely be Ryan Shazier at will, Curtis Grant at mike and Joshua Perry at sam. In the nickel, it would be Shazier and Grant.
* He said that playing against this OSU offense is not fun. "It's tough," he said. "It's an every day process. It's great work." He said that there is definitely more speed on offense, and also that there's more confidence.
* He said that they don't talk about goals because they have an objective each day. They don't look that far ahead.
* He said he's anxious and excited to start the season.
* On the defensive line, he believes there are "eight or so guys". He added, "I like what we have."
* He said that Chris Carter is a guy that they're hoping to get something out of. Fickell said that Carter would have an opportunity to show that he belongs in the first four games.
* Regarding freshmen linebackers Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell, he said that both have hit their freshman wall. Johnson has been dealing with an injury, and Mitchell, who started very well, has recently succumbed to the dreaded wall. This was not unexpected.
* On walk-on linebacker Joe Burger, who constantly pops up in conversation, Fickell said that "Joe does a great job," adding that there are a lot of guys that are going to be in the mix. Even though the starters are known, the backups are still in flux.
* Fickell said the upside in the front seven is incredible, but until they go out and perform in front of the crowd, it's all just talk.
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