Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson can tell you what they are doing and what they have done to tweak the Ohio State offense, but if you want to know the effect it is having, you should go ask Buckeye defensive coordinator Greg Schiano because right now he’s the one having to deal with it.
It’s Schiano and the rest of the defensive coaching staff who have seen what Wilson and co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day have done, which has forced them to make sure their own players are constantly on their toes.
“I’ve known Kevin for a long time,” Schiano said. “He’s an excellent football coach and a really good person. We’re doing some tempo that is — if you remember the Indiana game, we got caught a few times in tempo, so tempo really makes us button it up and be on point because if you get one guy who doesn’t get his feet in the ground and now they’ve got a play. That’s one thing that I think jumps out. But again, Ryan Day and Kevin are just really, really good football coaches and good guys to work with.”
Not that anybody expected him to stay unemployed for long, but it didn’t take too much time for Kevin Wilson to find a new job after resigning from Indiana. In fact, the only thing that kept him from being hired sooner was the fact that there was still a football season to finish.
It’s not unusual for some coaches to take a year off to “recharge”, but that was never something that interested Wilson.
“One, I love coaching,” he said. “I love working with kids. I never thought about not doing it. I’m grateful for the opportunity and blessed with the opportunity. I’m grateful to Coach Meyer for reaching out and for Mr. (Gene) Smith and the coaches and players embracing me. But at the same time, it kind of just happened. I wasn’t planning on ever not coaching. I’m kind of a ball coach. It’s just kind of what I do. I don’t know if I’m good at it, but I have fun at it. I enjoy what we do.”
Like all coaches, Urban Meyer loves players who step up when the game is on the line, and he’s got a few fifth-year seniors who fit that billing. One is quarterback J.T. Barrett, who famously converted a fourth-down rush with ease in overtime against Michigan last season, and another is defensive end Tyquan Lewis, who was named the B1G Defensive Lineman of the Year for his stellar play last season.
What goes through Lewis’s mind when the game is getting late and a play needs to be made?
“I just close my eyes and I think really deep within myself,” he said. “First down, second down, every down is critical at the end of the game. I just think to myself about all of the things I had to go through to get to this moment and why not go out and give it all that you’ve got there in that moment. The fourth quarter, everybody is tired, but so what, you’ve just got to go.”
The value of fifth-year seniors cannot be overlooked, even if they are growing rather rare under Urban Meyer at Ohio State. The 2017 Buckeyes have seven such veterans, with the aforementioned Barrett and Lewis joined by Chris Worley, Billy Price, Michael Hill, Marcus Baugh, and Tracy Sprinkle.
That kind of leadership shows up when it is needed most, but it also shows up every other day as well.
“In years past there haven’t been a lot of fifth-year guys, but I think the guys who are here now are committed to the team,” Barrettt said. “I think that’s something that is definitely expressed through the winter workouts, not just spring ball the first few days. Everybody’s happy to get back to ball, but I think when our winter workouts came and the grind came it was about the guys and I think my class, we love Ohio State, love this team, and we want to do the best for Ohio State and make sure that we end the season on top and I think that’s our focus.”