Ohio State has new coaches on offense because of how poorly the Buckeyes threw the ball a year ago. Every spring sees a renewed focus on the passing game, but this year it was a bit different with new offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day on hand.
Urban Meyer spoke all spring long about the need to improve the deep ball, but that was just one of the areas they worked on throughout camp.
“I can just tell you where our emphasis was,” Meyer said. “As an offense for spring we had three very clear targets that we wanted to accomplish. Number one was pass protection. Number two was accuracy with an emphasis on deep balls. And number three was the ability to finish plays. We call it ‘cross-facing’, where either the linemen or the receivers finish plays, which we used to be excellent at. That’s when you get the big hits downfield.”
While Wilson and Day are getting used to the players, and vice versa, they are also getting accustomed to working with a new football staff. To this point they are blending right in.
“It’s awesome,” said receivers coach Zach Smith. “It’s been awesome. I knew Kevin and Ryan before they came here and I respect them at an extremely high level. They came in and it’s been an awesome transition. We’ve made tweaks and changes here and there and it’s been really good.”
Day coming from the NFL was a nice get for Urban Meyer, but Wilson appears to be a perfect fit for what this offense wants to do.
“There’s no doubt,” Smith said. “To hire a guy like that with his pedigree, track record, and his mind. His track record just as a coach coaching kids, you’re not going to find a better hire than that.”
Most people will tell you not to put too much stock into a spring game performance because April performances are not always indicative of November results. The games always have to be taken for what they are — another opportunity to practice, gain experience, and collect data. But they are also a little more than that.
“I put a lot of stock into it,” said cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs. “It’s 80,000 people and the ball is being thrown deep and your guy can’t catch it. And if he does, that’s a problem. What I shared with the players after the game is this: That is one of the most valuable experiences they can have. To understand how awful it feels to give up a touchdown at Ohio State. It is the worst feeling, and it should be. If it doesn’t make you sick to your stomach, you’re not going to be able to play here.
“The fact that they were able to experience that without it having counted in a real game was phenomenal. What our offense did in the course of 15 days, the pressure they put on those kids with the deep ball throws, is experience they won’t ever be able to get back. We won’t be able to replicate that all fall. For those young players, this was a fantastic spring game.”