A Wilson a Day
There were several reasons why Urban Meyer chose to move the Ohio State Buckeyes offense in a new direction with two new offensive coordinator hires. One of those reasons was because Ed Warinner and Tim Beck decided to leave “of their own volition”, but another reason was the lack of development at the quarterback position.
In 2014, J.T. Barrett was the most productive quarterback in Buckeye history under Tom Herman as a redshirt freshman. In his two seasons under Beck and in Warinner’s offense, however, he has had trouble winning the starting job, and he’s been the subject of fans’ desires to be benched. That’s a pretty staggering fall in a short amount of time.
With OSU recruiting quarterbacks at a pace they’ve never really done before, without development, all of the recruiting successes would just be wasted.
Young quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins, and Tate Martell were each some of the top prospects in the nation while in high school. Meyer’s expectation is that with Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson now coaching them, there won’t be the same lack of development that has plagued the Buckeyes the previous two seasons.
So how did things go this spring for the QBs and their new coaches?
“I feel like he does a great job with calling plays and knowing when to call the right plays,” Haskins said of Wilson this spring. “When he was at Indiana he had like three 1,000-yard receivers, two 1,000-yard running backs, he just does a really good job of incorporating the offense with everybody. He and Coach Day have done a good job of innovating, adding new plays, adding new wrinkles to plays, new motions and formations and new routes. He’s done a really good job.”
“He’s a fiery guy,” added Burrow. “He’s a great leader, we all just follow his lead, execute the plays that he calls and try to go from there.”
And as for the results?
“I thought we played really well this spring,” Burrow said of the quarterbacks. “I thought we got a lot better. Obviously the focus on deep balls this spring was high and I think we got a lot better, a lot more accurate this spring.”
NFL Experience a Plus
Ryan Day came to Ohio State from the NFL. Urban Meyer expects that experience to pay dividends now and down the road. He’s not the only assistant coach who has spent time in the league, as linebackers coach Billy Davis and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano have been there as well. What is the benefit of having assistant coaches who have been in the pros?
“Number one, you can give the players that perspective because what do great players want to do? They want to go play in the NFL,” Schiano explained this spring. “So you can give them the perspective because you’ve been there. I can give them the perspective because I made the decisions on draft day. What are we looking for? That helps.
“I think the other thing, in the National Football League you don’t recruit, you don’t worry about academics, you don’t worry about all of the other things, so all you do is study football. In the offseason what are you doing? You’re studying football. So I do think exponentially you do grow when it comes to football, but the reality is that college football and pro football are really different games. What we defend here, we don’t defend in the National Football League, at least 40-50% of it. So it is a different game.”
As the defensive coordinator and the safeties coach of the Buckeyes, Greg Schiano had his hands full this spring. Losing Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, and Gareon Conley is a really good way to have a really bad year. Fortunately, Urban Meyer’s recruiting machine has been hard at work for the last five years, so any losses are mitigated by talented reserves.
That still doesn’t mean Schiano slept well at night during the spring. But it sounds like it got better for him as things went on and players stepped up into leadership roles.
“I thought that we improved,” Schiano said of the secondary. “We still have a long way to go. We have a lot of young players back there that are learning how to play in the secondary. I thought Denzel Ward had a great spring. I thought Damon Webb had a really good spring. So those two guys are kind of the elder statesmen now all of a sudden. Damon Arnette had a good spring as well.”