Ohio State is planning on fielding a much better passing attack in 2017, and they spent much of the spring setting up those expectations.
Of particular interest is the downfield passing game, where the Buckeyes had just four completions of 40 or more yards last season. This spring they worked on several different areas in order to improve the overall effectiveness with the deep passing, with much of the focus on gaining separation.
“I feel like the separation is a two-way street,” receiver Terry McLaurin said this spring. “There’s some timing and there’s also, on our part, getting in and out of our breaks as well. I feel like we did a decent job in our stems and things like that, but it’s a race getting out of the break as well. And when we get that timing with the quarterbacks like we’re doing now and we’re running different combination of routes, that all helps. It culminates to a bigger product.
Parris Campbell is one of the receivers expected to help create that bigger product. In 2017, however, he’ll be doing most of it from the slot. We saw both K.J. Hill and Curtis Samuel create plays down the seam out of the slot last year, and Campbell is expected to do the same this coming season.
In fact, Campbell looked like a natural fit in the slot this spring. And apparently he’s bringing some extra motivation with him.
“Yeah, he does,” said teammate K.J. Hill. “He used to be a running back in high school so it’s a natural fit for him. I think he knows he’s a senior, so now it’s either go home or go to the league, what are you trying to do? It’s time to go, so that’s mainly in his head because we talk, so that’s what he’s thinking right now.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes will be trying to limit such plays. And they’ll be doing it with a new defensive staff hierarchy. Luke Fickell is off to Cincinnati, and right now the only defensive coordinator on the staff is Greg Schiano. New linebackers coach Billy Davis will do whatever he can to make Schiano’s job easier.
“I am here to help in any way I can,” Davis said. “Coach Schiano will call it. I have probably got about 100 games under my belt in the NFL, you rely on your whole staff at all times. There is one main guy that is thinking about it and calling it, but there are multiple times in a game that you say, ‘Hey, help me solve this problem. What do you guys like here?’ Then you call accordingly. We all are well-versed in the scheme and how we solve the problems within it, but Schiano is the lead dog in calling them and we will help him in any way we can.”