Walk the Talk
There is no such thing as a timid cornerback. At least not for long. They’re like albino animals born in the wild. They don’t blend in very well to their surroundings and are soon exposed to predators who would mean them harm.
At Ohio State, a Buckeye cornerback must possess supreme confidence. They have to know that they are better than the player across from them. Sure, they may get beat here or there, but that just means someone got lucky. If you’re an Ohio State cornerback, you know you’re the best.
It’s just that cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs doesn’t need his players telling that to every receiver they face.
Redshirt sophomore Damon Arnette has this very “problem”, and it is something that Coombs works with him on continually.
“That’s part of Damon’s process,” Coombs said. “Almost every day he and I have to have a conversation about something that’s not really related to the technique of the game, and he knows that. And some of that I love and some of that I don’t. I don’t want him to not be himself because this is a position that has to be played with great confidence. When you’re out there on an island and you’ve got to cover that guy and you are all alone, so you better believe in yourself. And I absolutely want all of my guys to do that. I just don’t need him to tell everybody about it all the time, which is one of the things he does.”
Flipping the Switch
There are expectations for every player who comes to Ohio State, yet some players will take longer to develop than others. That doesn’t mean they won’t eventually meet those expectations, just that it might not happen in year one or year two, or even year three. There’s a reason players are given five years to play four, after all.
One of the ways players suddenly get motivated to start reaching for those expectations is when they get passed up on the depth chart by a younger player.
As the saying goes for fast football players, ‘If he’s even, he’s leavin’.’ The same can be said of a freshman who is suddenly neck-and-neck with a second or third-year player. If the rookie is already even, there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll eventually be taking over. Then once that younger player takes the lead, the veteran can go any number of ways with the situation.
That is currently the case with Ohio State redshirt sophomore guard Matt Burrell, who competed with true freshman Michael Jordan at left guard last year. Jordan won the job, which left Burrell with some considerations to make. How did he respond? Well, he now finds himself right in the mix at right guard and has provided the exact answer his coach was hoping for.
“I think it’s one of those things where you start to see young guys come in, and here you are and those young guys are doing things,” offensive line coach Greg Studrawa explained. “They’re getting opportunities. And one day the switch goes off and you realize, ‘I guess I better go.’ That’s the best way I can describe what’s happened to Matt. He’s realized, ‘I gotta go. This is my time. I’ve been here long enough. It’s time to perform.’ And that’s exactly how he’s practicing. That’s exactly how he’s watching film. He’s understood that it’s his time now, and if not, someone’s going to go by you.”
And Here’s the Kicker
Ohio State has two scholarship place-kickers competing to be the Buckeye starter this season. Redshirt junior Sean Nuernberger is in the lead at the moment, but he is being pushed by true freshman Blake Haubeil. Nuernberger certainly has the edge in experience — his 2014 National Championship ring can attest to that. Haubeil, however, was one of the best kickers in high school football the past two seasons.
So how’s the race shaping up so far in camp?
“Sean and Blake are competing at kicker, and I think that’s only right and I think that’s only fair,” Kerry Coombs said. “I think that’s how you go into camp. Sean has handled that very well. He’s not perfect yet, but he’s much better than he was last year with the injury. He’s kicking through the ball well.”
It’s an obvious question, and the answer is even more obvious — what will it take to win the job?
“The guy who is putting it through the pipes will be the kicker,” Coombs said. “Blake’s gonna be a great kicker here too. He’s got a very strong leg. Very strong leg. He can kick a long, long field goal. Right now in the accuracy battle, he’s just a shade behind Sean.”
The Buckeyes have shared duties between kickers when it comes to placements and kickoffs in the past, and the same could hold true this year as well.
“You could,” Coombs said. “It just depends. Typically it will be a different guy kicking off. Typically here.”
Even though the Buckeyes don’t expect to be punting much, the loss of Cameron Johnston is huge. Coombs very much likes what he has seen out of redshirt freshman Drue Chrisman, however.
“Drue Chrisman is a phenomenal punter,” he said. “You’re going to be excited to see what Drue does with the ball. We had a great punter. We have another great punter.”
Coombs would not elaborate on Ohio State doing away with the rugby punt, however.
“I would not say that,” he smiled. “I would not tell you. Why would we give that away?”