Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘That’s where I’m at my best’

Ohio State Football Notebook Buckeyes Buckeye Football

Defensive Line State of Mind

Every year, the Ohio State defensive line sets goals, and one of those goals is usually to be the best defensive line in school history. That’s always a tall order, but one that shouldn’t be dismissed. Along with lofty goals, each season also sees an Ohio State defensive front that is loaded with talent.

The alchemy involved in turning potential into production is a never-ending process that coaches somehow live for. It’s also a process that is constantly evolving. Betterment as a player used to be confined to the practice field, but that was a long time ago. Now there are motivational tactics used all year long, and not just for football purposes.

For instance, this spring defensive line coach Larry Johnson had his players watch a video called “The Journey” in order to emphasize that they didn’t come this far to only come this far.

“We define what a journey is, it’s to finish. And that’s what we do,” Johnson said. “This is a new journey for these guys. Something they’ve never done before. What a great moment for these guys to continue to stretch the bar and stretch our brand as a defensive line to be the greatest ever. And it’s not just something you say, it’s something you have to chase, to be the greatest ever. And really what a great moment for these guys to have that opportunity.”

What Does Tate Martell Bring?

Buckeye fans have gotten to see glimpses of redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Martell in the last two spring games. What he has lacked in the passing game, he has made up for in his ability to evade an oncoming defense.

While both Martell and his coaches believe he will be a complete quarterback down the road, Martell knows that his ability to run the ball is what sets him apart at the moment.

“Obviously you’re going to look at the running ability,” he said. “That’s what everybody looks at. I guess it’s just being able to make plays, make people miss, and stuff like that. That’s where I’m at my best. Just adding that element to the game where you’ve got to add an extra guy to guard me when it comes to running the ball, where it takes him out of pass coverage.”

The Buckeyes will be able to use those skills this season, but how much more gets asked of him in 2018 will depend upon how much more he shows he can handle.

Know Your Opponent

Ohio State went through spring ball with three quarterbacks, none of whom are all that similar to each other. Tate Martell is the most explosive runner. Dwayne Haskins is the most explosive passer. And Joe Burrow is probably a happy marriage between the two.

How does the Buckeye defense see the two ends of that spectrum?

“He’s really shifty,” safety Isaiah Pryor said of Martell. “He’s good with the reads, and he’s a good runner, but everybody knows that.”

When Haskins comes in, however, the secondary has to keep their eye on the deep ball.

“Oh for sure,” Pryor said. “When you’re in the post, you just have to make sure you know his targets.”

Playing the Field

With Jordan Fuller’s move from boundary safety to field safety, he is no longer going to be tasked with being the Buckeyes’ centerfielder. Instead, he is now more of a shortstop, where he will be able to use both his range and quickness as he defends slot receivers who come at him much faster than just a routine flyball to the outfield.

Fuller worked in the offseason and the spring to be ready for his new position, and it showed in where he improved as a defender.

“Playing man to man. Definitely,” he said. “This offseason we really focused on it, so that’s what I’ve gotten better at. I’m also developing as a leader.”

In Ohio State’s system, man-to-man defense isn’t an either/or proposition for the players. It’s a must. The entire defense runs on press principles.

“It’s something you gotta do in this defense,” Fuller said. “If we can’t play aggressive and play man to man, then we can’t be as dynamic as a defense. So I take that responsibility on my shoulders and do the best that I can to make that happen.”


6 Responses

  1. If Joe’s still here in July we’ll know how the discussion went down. But he won’t be gamed by anybody.

  2. Burrow graduates tomorrow…what an accomplishment…don’t be surprised to see an article indicating that Burrow has chosen to take his talents elsewhere. This article touts the abilities of Martell as a runner, Haskins as a passer (although he does not have the strongest arm on the team (a young by the name of Kory Curtis can out-throw him), then Burrow is given an oh….he is just a happy marriage between the two. I wonder who was it that ran the offense more efficiently in the Spring game and had the better stats. My friend @James Mills stated in a previous post that it was clearly evident who was the better QB (Burrow) so what is taking the coaches so long? Their delay is an indicator that Burrow is not the man….they feel they have all the time in the world but Joe doesn’t….June is fast approaching when he will have to move to his team.

    1. The coaches aren’t going to come out and tell us because they have no reason to. But the players know where they stand.

      1. Tony, have the players hinted something you’re not letting out yet?

        Kelly, the “a happy marriage” comment belonged to Tony’s story not a teammate of Burrow/Haskin/Martel.

        1. We haven’t talked to the players since the spring game, but early in spring some would talk as if it was going to be Dwayne, but that’s likely because the questions were framed as if Dwayne was going to be the guy.

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