Urban Meyer didn’t hire Kevin Wilson as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator to keep things status quo. The Buckeyes have already seen how that story goes. No, Meyer hired Wilson to make some changes — or maybe “fixes” would be a better term.
The most-talked about fix made by Wilson so far has been the tempo, which the Buckeye offense used throughout spring, from start to finish.
“Probably the first thing is the tempo,” center Billy Price said early in spring camp. “We’re running pretty fast. It’s really, really nice because the defense gets exhausted. I was messing with the guys, I told Dre’Mont (Jones), ‘You’re puffing over there too hard man’ and he said, ‘You guys are just running way too fast.’
“That’s probably one of the immediate changes, and obviously we’ve talked about stretching the field, both horizontally and vertically, so we’re seeing the deep ball being thrown, we’re seeing running north and south — the traditional Ohio State offense, and going east to west, which is nice to see.”
Ohio State will see another former Buckeye linebacker drafted this weekend when Raekwon McMillan gets his name called. He will be the fourth OSU linebacker to be drafted in the last four years, joining Darron Lee and Joshua Perry last year, and Ryan Shazier in 2014.
This type of run then begs the question of whether the current crop of Buckeye linebackers is NFL caliber. New linebackers coach Billy Davis isn’t ready to anoint them yet, but he is more than aware of the legacy that Luke Fickell built at the position.
“There’s a lot of meat left on the bone before I can say that, but I will say it’s a very athletic group,” Davis said. “They’ve got great size and length and athleticism so all the pieces are there. We just have to work our way into where we can say this is an NFL group.
“I think Coach Fickell has done a fantastic job. The work speaks for itself. How many NFL players does Coach Fickell have under his coaching? It’s real. There’s no team that has more NFL linebackers than Ohio State, and we have Raekwon McMillan going in this year, so it’s a tradition that we’re very proud of, but right now the group that’s here cannot focus on any of that. They have to focus on being the best Ohio State Buckeyes we can be and see what we can get done.”
An area where OSU hasn’t had the NFL success that they would like is at the quarterback position. It was no surprise then when Urban Meyer went out and hired Ryan Day, who had spent his last few years in the NFL coaching quarterbacks for Chip Kelly.
With the kind of talent that Ohio State can attract, it is a bit odd that the level of quarterback play hasn’t translated to the NFL. Bringing Day on board is an attempt to fix that, but even more than that, it is an attempt to simply improve the quarterback play for the Buckeyes in the here and now.
“He wanted obviously to develop the quarterbacks at a high level and coach them just like they are in the NFL,” Day said of Meyer. “Help continually develop the pass game at a high level, but then also some of the things that Chip has done in the past, we have done in the past, in terms of the tempo stuff and playing very fast, how we call things, that was a big part of the conversation.”