For the first time since 2014, the Buckeyes will be breaking in a new starting center. With Pat Elflein off to the Minnesota Vikings, fifth-year senior Billy Price now steps in for him. Price started right alongside Elflein since that 2014 season, so experience in starting won’t be an issue.
According to Price, experience at center won’t be an issue either.
“I told you guys last year that we do that stuff during the season,” he said. “I was playing it, getting reps at it last season. Brady Taylor and myself, Pat, even when Jacoby (Boren) was here I was still getting some reps at center as well. It’s just sliding over and now you’re doing it more often than you were doing it before.”
Even though there is plenty of familiarity, there is still an adjustment, but maybe not as much as you might think.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a big adjustment,” he said. “Just say there’s a lot more accountability on my behalf. You’ve got to be prepared for everything the defense is throwing at you so you have to be sure you’re watching film, picking up cues. There’s a lot of conversation with Coach Stud, Coach Wilson, Coach Day about being able to see all kinds of things the defense is doing.”
When Luke Fickell left for Cincinnati, there was plenty of speculation that he was going to be taking Kerry Coombs with him to be his defensive coordinator. That never materialized, and when Urban Meyer announced that Coombs wasn’t going anywhere, he also said that he would have a larger role on the defensive staff.
When Coombs was asked about doing more this spring, he laughed it off and said it would be hard to do more because there are only 24 hours in a day. He did say, however, that with Greg Schiano spending more time with the defense as a whole, that he would be working with the safeties more than maybe he has in the past.
“Sure, I think there’s more time for us to coach together the corners and the safeties,” he said. “And more time in five-minute blocks in practice when I’ve got the whole back end, because that communication between corner and safety is so important, and we’ve done that every practice so far and I think that works. And half the kids in that room I recruited, so there’s great communication between those kids anyway. We’re trying to win every single game and we’re trying to play the best defense we possibly can on every snap, and I think there’s four guys that are really committed.”
The communication aspect shouldn’t be overlooked, as it was the lack of communication between the corners and safeties that was always popping up when Everett Withers was the defensive coordinator.
Until the Buckeyes actually take the field against an opponent that isn’t themselves, there are going to be questions abut what a Kevin Wilson and Urban Meyer offense actually looks like. We saw glimpses in the spring game, but the lack of a running game was a big sign that there is still some mystery to this eventual offense.
What we do know is that the Buckeyes are still going to run the ball, and do so with power. That is one reason why running backs coach Tony Alford doesn’t expect much to change in that regard, other than maybe an increase in the number of opportunities.
“I don’t think so,” he said of any prospective change. “If we play faster there’s going to be more plays. If there’s more plays there’s more opportunities, so if you look at it in that vein I guess it would change. There’s more opportunities because you’ve got more plays going on.
“We’re going to do what we do and just play really fast and really perfect our trade. That’s the biggest thing for guys like Mike (Weber). We know you know, you’ve done it before, now let’s perfect it and challenge yourself in every small little detail that’s going on.”