Two-Minute Drill: Quick Hitters from Thursday Interviews
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes managed to practice outside for the first time this spring on Thursday, but did it without full pads. After practice, we spoke with offensive coordinator Tom Herman, as well quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton. Defensively, we talked with cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, and cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Doran Grant.
* Miller said that he feels light years ahead of where he was at this time last year.
* He said that this spring is night and day to last spring for the entire team.
* He said he still has a lot of things to work on, including leadership. He needs to "keep everybody going".
* The tempo is faster at practice because everybody knows what they're doing right now.
* He's still working on his footwork, but he definitely feels that it has improved.
* He said he's doing a much better job throwing his receivers open right now. He's been working at the little things, and that's one of them. He has focused a lot on knowing where the players are going to be, which he wasn't always aware of last year.
* Guiton said he likes J.T. Barrett because he's a Texas guy, like him. He also said he is picking things up quickly. Same with Cardale Jones.
* He doesn't think the offense will be too different. He believes there will be some added dimensions, but it won't be too different.
* He's expecting big things for the offense and hoping to have the best offense in the nation. Talked about how defenses will have to stretch out to watch the receivers this year, and then they'll be able to just pound them. He also said that with the improved passing attack it would be a bad idea to load the box against them as well. He also mentioned that no matter what the defense is doing, they still have Braxton Miller to take off for 80 yards.
* Herman said that Miller still has a ways to go in that regards when the play breaks down. At times "his mechanics abandon him when the situation gets really heated, but it's light years ahead of where he was, and it continues to progress."
* He said he doesn't know how to quantify how raw Miller was last year, other than to say that he was "really raw".
* He said he doesn't know where Miller's ceiling is. He said he'd come close to his ceiling if he continues to progress mentally as he has. Herman said that he gets frustrated at times because he sees flashes of what Miller can become, but you have to temper how much you load onto a player. If you give him too much, you bog him down and overload & him.
* He said that he thinks Miller gets frustrated at times by it too, even though he's hard to read because he's an even-keeled guy. He said that sometimes if you try to build Rome in a day, it does more harm than good. However, things are heading in a good direction.
* He said that when they kick the ball off against Buffalo, he will be 10 times better than he was against Miami last year. There is no doubt in his mind.
* He said the offense is "ridiculously farther along than it was at this point last year because the basics are already installed. Now they can begin teaching the finer points of the offense.
* Roby said that he is doing a lot of teaching and leading this spring. That's one of his main focuses, getting the other guys ready for the season.
* He said that wide receivers are "way better" than they were a year ago. It's more challenging to him, but he still can't let them beat him.
* He said he received very good feedback from the NFL, but he decided that it was more important for him to stay at Ohio State and lead this team "to great things." He was 50/50 on leaving, but said the NFL isn't going anywhere.
* It took him a while to make his decision. He said he talked to "10,000" people about it, but woke up one day and decided that it wasn't his time yet. He said he's okay with being broke for a little bit longer.
* His main goal this season is to be a better leader because that will carry him on and off the field. If he's a better leader, then that will lead to good things and everything will fall into place.
* He wants to improve mentally, but said he's not really looking to improve physically.
* One of his goals when he came to Ohio State was to be one of the best corners to ever be here and he doesn't feel that he's accomplished that yet. He believes by being a better leader he will be able to accomplish that goal.
* Coombs said that he has complete confidence in Doran Grant, who is "significantly" better than he was last season. During the offseason, he noticed through film study that Grant was a split second behind in reacting to what he saw. One of things they are focusing on this spring is to increase that reaction time. He called Grant a legit 4.3 guy, so if they can get his reactions to match his overall ability, then they'll have a very good player on their hands.
* He said the cornerbacks are playing at a reasonably high level for spring football, especially considering how young they are right now.
* He said Doran Grant had a disappointing year last year. He expected him to play more. He did say that his one start was a great game last year. He said Grant is willing to do anything to continue to improve. Coombs said that he is "definitely the starter". He said Grant isn't missing anything and is doing everything they're asking him to do, including cutting edge hand-eye coordination and vision testing.
* They are using a DynaVision machine which is essentially a black wall that employs light flashes to test vision and hand-eye coordination. When a light flashes, a player has to touch the light. This goes on for an entire minute. According to Coombs, Tim Duncan holds the world record with a score of 139 lights in a minute. The first time Grant did it he got 48. The second time he got a 76. He said Philly Brown grabbed him on Thursday to tell him he got a 93. He said the players love it. They also use similar vision programs that the Air Force uses to train fighter pilots.
* He said that he loves freshmen Cam Burrows and Eli Apple, but they're not prepared yet, and he wouldn't expect them to be. But they are long and they work hard. "They are handling it." He expects them both to play in the fall. He doesn't want to play Roby as much as he was forced to last year.
* He said his goal is to play every coverage well, be it press coverage or off-man coverage.
* He said he talked with Roby about leaving for the NFL and he gave him all of the information that he could and then just let him be. He never pressured him. He gave him room to make his decision. He said that he told Roby to take the emotion out of it because Ohio State would be fine without him. Make this a business decision. He told Roby not to make a decision to please anybody but himself. He believes Roby will be a top-ten pick if he really wants to work, but he's not there yet.
* He said Tyvis Powell has come a long way, "probably the farthest of anybody in his group." "I tried to beat Tyvis up every day last year...because that's what is going to be required down the road here." He said that Powell never buckled. He did say that Powell needs to get stronger to play the nickel position, but he has got a chance to be a very, very good player.
* He said that Armani Reeves is going to play a lot this season. He doesn't want his corners to play 75 snaps per game. He wants to be able to play four and five guys every game. He expects all of his cornerbacks to provide "good, healthy competition" this season.
* He said the great cornerbacks want quarterbacks to throw at them, as Roby does. He did say that he doesn't like it when Roby tries to bait quarterbacks, as he does with Braxton Miller.
* He said Roby's boundary cornerback spot is the premier spot for the cornerbacks and everybody wants that spot. That's the goal for all of them, and they all compete for that spot.
* He said Roby's awareness of offenses has improved as well. He's a very intelligent player who studies and has a great understanding of offenses. He looks at formation and he makes a plan of attack. He said that Roby looks at every play and tries to figure out how he can get the ball in his hands.
* He said that if you throw a hamburger in a room, Roby's going to come out with it because of his desire.
* He said his young players are "failing fearlessly right now", which is what they want. "Just keep swinging, because sooner or later you're going to hit the ball."
* The standard in his cornerbacks room is to be a first round draft pick, and if you're not, then figure out why not and then get to that point.
* Without question he is seeing Roby being a better leader. He is seeing him teach the younger guys. He's not even going to let him scrimmage on Saturday because he's going to have him coaching the other cornerbacks on the sideline, and part of that is paying attention to everything so that he has something to tell the younger players.
* Coombs, who is also the special teams coordinator, said that he is very comfortable having Drew Basil as the placekicker and punter. However, they do have him on a "kick count" so that he doesn't get fatigued. His current kick count is 120, which is a number that he got from the NFL. He was told that college kids "overkick", so he's being careful not to let that happen with Basil.
* During the scrimmage on Saturday he is going to throw the cornerbacks into some chaos by switching their spots and situations around in order to see how they react to it.
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