Football

Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘It’s fun and frustrating at the same time’

Ohio State Football Notebook Buckeyes Buckeye Football

 

Same As It Ever Was

Ohio State has created a new college football standard with the cornerback rotation they have used the last two seasons.

In 2016, Mashon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, and Denzel Ward finally accomplished what then-coach Kerry Coombs had been trying to get done for years. Last season, Ward and a new pair of corners — Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield — continued what they started.

With Arnette and Sheffield both back this season, it wouldn’t seem too difficult to find somebody else to join them. Does cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson expect to be able to continue the rotation this year?

“If we have three guys that can do that, yes you would like to for sure, and I think we do,” he said.

“I know that’s definitely helped us and benefited us and that’s something especially at that position, which is big because all of the running and things that go into playing that spot. The nickel comes out of the cornerback room as well, so to answer your question, yes, I do. When? I’m not sure, we just have to make sure we get to that and that’s the case.”

The More the Merrier

Last season, the Buckeyes played more than just three linebackers for a number of reasons. One of those reasons was injuries to Chris Worley and Dante Booker. Another reason, however, was because of the sub packages the Ohio State defense used.

For instance, Malik Harrison would normally come in on passing downs because of his coverage abilities and range.

Even with the loss of starters Worley and Jerome Baker, OSU linebackers coach Bill Davis believes the Buckeyes will continue to mix and match depending on the situation.

“I think with our different packages, there will be more players playing than just three guys,” he said. “I think we have the athletic skill set to play more. The nickel package is a different animal and it takes a different skill set than the base package, and then we have a couple other ones. I think we’ll get more than three linebackers on the field.”

Hoosier State of Mind

The state of Indiana produces a handful of blue-chip prospects every year, and the Buckeyes are usually there to recruit them.

In 2014, they signed wide receiver Terry McLaurin out of Indianapolis. In 2016, it was receiver Austin Mack out of Fort Wayne. Last year, they went back to McLaurin’s old high school for linebacker Pete Werner.

Ohio State already has 2019 Avon, Indiana running back Sampson James committed. They are also heavily involved with Indianapolis receiver David Bell.

For Werner, there is something special about being a Buckeye from the Hoosier state.

“Being an Indiana kid and coming to Ohio State is a great feeling, especially when older guys like Terry McLaurin and guys you look up to like that come here as well, especially from the same high school,” he said. “It’s just a great feeling because Indiana is kind of slept on in high school football when you look at the guys from like Florida and Texas. Guys from Indiana who excel and do well, it’s just a great feeling.”

Standards and Practices

In the past four years, the Buckeyes have had Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort, Taylor Decker, and Pat Elflein all selected in the NFL Draft, and each of them earned starting jobs. Then you also have Andrew Norwell, who went undrafted in 2014, but has started 54 of 55 career games. He was named an All-Pro last season as well.

This month, the Buckeyes will be sending former linemen Billy Price and Jamarco Jones to the 2018 NFL Draft. There is quite a legacy being built. It gives current players something to aspire to, but it is far from easy to live up to the established standard.

“It’s fun and frustrating at the same time,” said offensive lineman Demetrius Knox. “It’s frustrating because the standard is perfect. Billy — Rimington. Pat Elflein — Rimington. Everybody else, first-round draft pick. That’s the standard so if you come up short of that, it’s like ‘darn it.’ When you do live up to it, it makes it that much better.”