Next Man Up
Ohio State enters 2018 having to replace arguably its top two offensive players in center Billy Price and left tackle Jamarco Jones. Together, they made the Buckeye offensive line the most consistent aspect of the entire Ohio State football team.
Senior right tackle Isaiah Prince has moved to left tackle to fill the void left by Jones. Fifth-year senior Brady Taylor is attempting to do the same at center.
Taylor is still competing with other players for the job, and somebody now has to step in for Prince’s vacated right tackle spot. This is all happening in a spring where left guard Michael Jordan is out, causing even more displacement.
Through it all, however, Taylor isn’t worried about the offensive line.
“I think there’s a ton of confidence because this is a place where I feel like we can kind of go to the next guy,” he said. “And we just keep going and proving that each year because we lose a lot of guys early here, so I just think the next guy’s up and we’ll be ready to go.”
Too Many Titles?
Urban Meyer has always been an innovator when it comes to titles for his assistant coaches. Rather than having a defensive coordinator and a co-defensive coordinator, or offensive coordinator and co-offfensive coordinator, he has completely removed the “co-” and simply has two coordinators on both sides of the ball.
And in arguably the first of its kind, he named Kerry Coombs the assistant defensive coordinator last summer. Meyer creates titles like an artist creates works of art. You just never know what’s going to come next. Perhaps co-assistant defensive coordinator?
With the promotion of Ryan Day to offensive coordinator, people outside the program can get easily confused at the roles inside the walls at the WHAC right now.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson says nothing has changed with the day-to-day operations, no matter the name changes.
“There’s always been too many titles,” he said. “Like I worked at a lot of places where we could never give anybody a pay raise so we always gave a title to make it look better. So at the end it’s about how you work as a group, it’s kind of how we’ve always done it offensively, whether it be here last year or previously at every stop I’ve been.”
Taking the Good and the Bad
Spring football springs eternal, but there are growing pains every step of the way.
New players and new coaches are never marching in lock step in March. Coaches know they are going to see some rough practices. A lot of the time, coaches have to read between the lines for the good stuff. Are they seeing the effort they need? Why are the mistakes being made? If it’s the veterans, that can be a worry. If it’s the young guys, that’s typical.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is seeing all of that this spring, just as he expected to.
“I think our guys are playing hard and are giving us everything they have,” he said. “We’re making a ton of mistakes, but I would expect us to make a ton of mistakes now. Especially in the spring time, there’s guys that haven’t played a lot getting a lot of reps. Another thing is, you go one day, then you’re off a day. When you’re in the season, you go day after day in training camp and then you get into a routine.
“There’s a lot going on for these kids outside of football with academics and things. But that’s no excuse. You have to keep demanding a certain level of execution. But more important than anything is they learn to play hard and they learn to play together. If we can come out of spring with that, we’ll make sure it’s all cleaned up when we get to camp.”
Catching Urban’s Eye
As Greg Schiano said, there are going to be struggles in the spring. That’s why it’s always interesting to hear about which players are standing out to the coaches. On Monday, folllowing the Buckeyes’ ninth practice of the spring, Urban Meyer was asked who has made a jump this spring from last year.
“You have [linebackers] Baron [Browning] and Pete Werner, you have Justin [Hilliard], even though he’s a year older, he’s really made a nice jump,” he said. “It’s the linebacker crew, [defensive tackle] Davon Hamilton, you see a heartbeat there, and he’s a big, powerful guy, so he’s had a very good spring so far.
“Offensive line, Malcolm Pridgeon is making a jump. I know he’s a JC guy but it’s really his second year in the program. Those are a couple names. And [tight end] Luke Farrell, Luke Farrell graded a champion. He’s had as good a week as he’s ever had.”