Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘It’s tough to be as fast as Jerome’

Ohio State Buckeyes Buckeye Football Notebook

May the Fourth (QB) Be With You?

Monday will bring about another opportunity to speak with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. Also on the media docket will be the Buckeye quarterbacks. There is still a competition raging on to be J.T. Barrett’s backup, so that will obviously be a topic of conversation.

Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins will be the two most prominent names in that discussion, but true freshman Tate Martell’s name will also be mentioned.

Martell is expected to redshirt this season, but one week ago Meyer said he was in the mix. If he continues to perform well in the scrimmages, that may cloud things.

“He’s in the fight,” Meyer said. “How legitimate? It’s still early. He did do very well in the scrimmage the other day. Guys like that have to fight for those reps, and the terms we use around here are game reps and mental reps, and he’s really matured. He was not very mature in the spring. He took some maturity pills or something and he has grown up here in the last two months. Really the two weeks have been really impressive, just his professionalism as opposed to ‘don’t worry, just play,’ and he’s doing a nice job.”

What’s the Rush?

Everybody knows about Ohio State’s Rushmen. The four defensive ends who take the field together on passing downs have been written about almost as much freshman running back J.K. Dobbins.

Together, those four defensive ends prove quite the group of pass rushers. Rather than rest on the Rushmen laurels, however, the Ohio State linebackers have been working on helping out a bit as well.

“He’s helped us with a lot of things like pass rush,” Jerome Baker said of new linebackers coach Billy Davis. “He’s been in the NFL a long time, so he knows what running backs are trying to do to you. Pass rush, taking on blocks, same for same shoulder. That helped me this offseason so much, even when I take on a guard, same for same shoulder helps tremendously. I remember this offseason he brought in a list of what NFL scouts are looking for and want to see. It just shows that he knows what he’s doing and to follow the plan. When he teaches us he knows what he’s talking about, so just follow what he says and the rest will take care of itself.”

Faster Than Fast

Speaking of Jerome Baker, he is seen by most as the fastest linebacker on the team. It’s probably time that he’s seen by all that way.

“He’s got me by like a hundredths of a second, something like that. It’s not that much,” said Dante Booker.

Booker has been labeled as an athletic freak by his coaches and teammates, but when it comes to speed, there appears to only be one answer.

“Book is fast, but I think we all know who is the fastest,” Baker said laughing.

Asked if Booker is “every bit as fast” as Baker, Davis saw things the same way his linebackers did.

“Maybe not ‘every bit’, but almost every bit,” he said. “It’s close. It’s tough to be as fast as Jerome.”

The difference looks to be three-hundredths of a second, just as Booker said.

Range Rover

Having a player like Malik Hooker as Ohio State’s last line of defense a season ago afforded the Buckeye defense some extra insurance. They could be more aggressive in calling defenses because they knew if somebody missed an assignment or got beat, Hooker would be back there to cover as much ground as it takes.

The ability to cover ground — from one sideline to the other — is something that defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is always looking for. He is still looking for it with the Buckeyes currently. When he has that kind of player, however, it allows a coach to call the game differently than he would without it

“The level of trust that you build with a guy, the more he makes those plays back there, the range that he has, you probably will have the same defenses in the plan, but you’ll be more apt to call them when you have confidence in that sweeper back there,” he said.

That sweeper position is still up in the air between Jordan Fuller and Erick Smith right now, and may be for a while.