Two-Minute Drill: Fickell, Assistants Talk Defense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Spring football is over at Ohio State, but that only focuses more attention on the fall. The Buckeyes are replacing seven starters on defense this season, and while most of those spots were locked up in the spring, there is still a lot to be determined come August.
OSU defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and his staff took some time on Wednesday to talk about the spring, and where the defense is at heading into the summer.
OSU Defense Progressing
* Luke Fickell said stopping the run doesn't keep him up at night because that's the No. 1 thing they always set out to do.
* Fickell said one of the mantras of the defense is: "Be slow until it's time to be fast." Last year Ryan Shazier was too fast, until he was injured. That slowed him down and probably ended up making him a better player.
* Everett Withers said they feel like nickel defense is the best look for them right now. Allows them to get more speed on the field.
* Withers said they want to be a more aggressive defense this year, but that doesn’t always mean blitzing. They can blitz more, however, if they need to.
* Withers said last spring the defensive staff got caught up in trying to "win the spring" against the offense. They didn't do as well as they should have developing players and they can see that now.
Looking at Linebackers
* Fickell said that the linebackers are behind where they've been in the past, but he can't complain about their work ethic or passion or desire to get better.
* Fickell said the most important thing for Curtis Grant this spring was that he got his passion for the game back.
* Withers also said Curtis Grant had a very productive spring, which he needed to do. They wanted to see Curtis Grant play fast and be more of a leader this spring.
* Fickell said Josh Perry has incredible upside. When they recruited him, they didn't know where he would end up, they just knew that they wanted him.
Talking Defensive Line
* Mike Vrabel said Chris Carter was actually starting to look like a nose tackle over the last two weeks. He said not a lot of guys can do what Carter can do, being 330-340 pounds.
* Despite 7 sacks in the spring game, Vrabel said Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence were better in their other scrimmages.
* Withers said Michael Bennett, Spence and Washington all had great springs.
* Vrabel said Michael Bennett had a good spring. Called him a leader. Said his worst day was probably the Spring Game because of all of the passes.
* Coombs on whether Bradley Roby is a first round pick a year from now: "Absolutely."
* Coombs said Doran Grant was the surprise of the spring because he lived up to all their expectations.
* Coombs said Armani Reeves had a great spring but the pressure was on Doran Grant to replace Travis Howard.
* Coombs said Eli Apple and Cam Burrows got a lot of playing time this spring because they're good players.
* Withers said Tyvis Powell had a very good spring and he needed it with Vonn Bell coming in the summer.
* Coombs said freshman Gareon Conley will be in the cornerback room, as we expected.
* Withers said Vonn Bell will get them depth at free safety and also “Star.” Said Jayme Thompson and Chris Worley could also help them at “Star.”
* Fickell said the three linebackers in base defense would be Ryan Shazier (Will), Curtis Grant (Mike) and Josh Perry (Sam).
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