Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘That’s why they came to Ohio State’

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There Goes the Neighborhood…Again

Taver Johnson last coached for the Buckeyes in the 2012 Gator Bowl. From there he went to Arkansas, and his family obviously went with him. Now that he is back, he is looking for a new place to live. It won’t be the same house they had before, but it also won’t be too far away.

“Well, knock on wood, we’re hoping, we finish on a house that’s probably two blocks away from where we were last time,” he said. “We’re excited about that. Hopefully we’ll get that done here in April and I can get the family out here and you’ll see me smile a lot more when I get my daughter here especially.”

Don’t Look Back

Defensive football is ever-evolving, and it has to because offensive football is doing the same. Offenses may take the lead in development for a couple of years, but eventually defenses catch up a bit, which then forces more advancement from the offensive end. It’s a tug-of-war that will never end, and that’s one of the reasons college football is as popular as it is.

Defensive football has even changed in the six years that Taver Johnson was away from Ohio State. He was asked recently how cornerback play has changed at OSU since he’s been gone and he had an answer that struck him immediately. (Beware Buckeye fans, it’s probably the opposite of what many of you want to hear regarding looking back for the football.)

“I think the finish at the ball,” he said. “The guys have done a great job when the ball is in there of not panicking. Being able to not just knock it down but make a play on it. That’s the key as well.”

He also believes there are more advancements that he can help them make as well.

“I think before you get into the route there’s some things we can get better at, and we will,” he said. “But the finish has been unbelievable. It really has. And that’s what has allowed the defense to be very successful around here. And we need to keep that component without a doubt.”

Valuable Lessons

Alex Grinch began his coaching career at Missouri. He was an administrative graduate assistant in 2002, then a defensive grad assistant in 2003 and 2004 before moving on to New Hampshire for a few years. He eventually returned to Missouri as a secondary coach in 2012, where he stayed for three more seasons under long-time Tigers coach Gary Pinkel.

What he learned from Pinkel early on was something he has kept with him to this day.

“It was attention to detail and discipline, and that’s something when you are brought up that way in the coaching ranks, it really serves you, regardless of whatever staff that you’re on,” he said. “It gives you something to hang your hat on. Making sure as you approach from a game planning standpoint but also from a recruiting standpoint. There’s a plan, it’s attention to detail, it’s discipline.

“And if I didn’t say those things, he’d be mad at me too because that was ingrained in us going back to my years as a graduate assistant, and then back in the SEC a few years ago. We had some successes there. It was attention to detail and discipline in absolutely everything that you do, and make sure you have a plan for everything. Those are the key things.”

Urban Meyer Giving Thanks

If you walk around the Ohio State practice facility, everywhere you look you’ll see amenities and equipment meant to benefit OSU football players. The fact that it also entices recruits is definitely an added benefit.

What Ohio State promises those recruits doesn’t always connect with prospects, and so they move on. This, of course, doesn’t bother Urban Meyer, because he is only looking for a certain type of player, which is a big reason he is so high on the 2018 class.

“There’s nothing quite like walking into a locker room of like-minded people and that’s what I believe this class is, that’s why they came to Ohio State,” he said. “And Gene Smith, I’d like to thank him too. Never once has he said no when it is in regards to student-athlete welfare. This is a tough game, it’s a tough game and involves injuries. It’s a tough game that you have to monitor all kinds of different safety precautions for your players, not one time I’ve been told no. And that’s a very important factor.

“He allows myself and our coaching staff to fully invest in our players. I’m talking about on the field, but everybody knows about our program off the field and there’s never been any hesitation from Gene, our administration, about doing what’s right for our players.”