Football

Morning Constitutional: Does Jeff Hafley Want His Corners Looking Back For the Ball?

Jeffrey Okudah Fall Practice Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State Football

Today’s Topic: Does Jeff Hafley Want His Corners Looking Back For the Ball?


It is the bane of Ohio State fans’ existence.

It is the cause of more frustration than traffic at rush hour.

It is the one thing that is worse than any other thing.

Why won’t Buckeye cornerbacks look back for the ball?

I mean, it’s right there!

Over the last two years, each time a cornerback had good position on a receiver and gave up a reception without turning and looking for the ball brought another level of frustration to the fan base.

It wasn’t that they weren’t coached to look back for the ball, but rather to only look back if they were in the proper position to do so.

“If you are in position where – we call it an ‘advantaged position’, so you’re even with the receiver or you’re over the top of the receiver, then you ‘lean and locate.’ That’s the verbiage,” Greg Schiano explained two years ago.

“If you’re behind him, you don’t, because all you’re going to get to see is somebody celebrating over your shoulder because the guy is going to catch the ball. Now, part of it is ‘why are you behind?’ ‘Why are you trailing?’ Some coverages are designed that way and others aren’t. So the ones that aren’t, you have to be on top, and that helps a little bit.”

The plan was solid and so was the logic, but the execution was lacking.

It is now up to Ohio State’s current defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley to attempt the easing of Buckeye fans’ frustrations.

He believes he is up to the task and wants you to know that the instructions are to look back for the ball, just as they were last year and the year before that.

“All right, so here’s the deal on that one, and if I ever see any of you guys tweet — do you think that we as DB coaches sit there and say, ‘Don’t look back for the ball?'” Hafley asked a room full of reporters. “Like my wife used to come up to me after games and be like, ‘Hey, why don’t our guys turn back and look for the ball?’ I’m like, ‘Do you want to see my individual tape? All we do is practice turning and looking for the ball.’ DB coaches teach to turn and look for the football.

“We promise you we will practice to teach — this is awesome that you asked this because now no one can tweet this out or say this. We are going to work on turning and looking and trying to intercept the football when we’re in man.

“Now, there’s certain parts of the field where it’s not good to do that. So if we don’t do it in a game, it might be a certain part of the field. But I promise you, come and watch individual [drills], we’ll turn and look for the ball.”

12 Responses

  1. i recall Everett Withers taught DB’s to keep the ball in front and to look back for the ball. Now, I’m not sure how that turned out, but the next coach taught 3 First Rounders and they rarely looked back for the ball – but they got a lot of PBUs. So, pick your poison.

    1. The 2012/2013 Withers defenses played off-man, so they weren’t necessarily turning and running with their backs to the QBs. They finished second-to-last in the B1G in passing yards allowed per game. In 2013, they allowed 268 yards passing per game and were ninth in pass efficiency defense. In 2014, when Chris Ash brought his quarters defense and press-man coverage, the Buckeyes allowed 201.1 yards passing and finished third in pass efficiency defense.

  2. Wait! The public is allowed access to individual drills in practice? We have Coach Half’s open invitation. Do they validate parking? Any way you can post a schedule? I’d like to take a day off and go grab some popcorn, so I can sit and watch em turn back for the ball!

  3. The coach wants his CBs to look in the stands for their families.

  4. Annette is a horrible cover corner. He never looked for the ball, but of course he was always beat anyway. He committed way to many PI penalties.

    1. One of the times he did look back for the ball last year he ended up giving up a TD, fwiw.

    1. I think people need to get used to the idea that it’s not going to happen as much as anybody would like. Just like last year. Would “somewhat more than last year” be acceptable? 🙂

      1. I think everyone will be fine if “turning and finding the ball” simply occurs when guys are in position to do so…that is all we expect. No one expects a DB to turn and look when he is beat (as catching up and at least making the tackle is the priority in that situation). But far far too many times we have seen our DBs in PERFECT coverage position refuse to look like they were trained robots! Sheffield was a master of this “no turn regardless how great of a position you’re im)

      2. Last year’s defense was so bad, that any move in another direction should be on the table. People noticed deficiencies weekly during season which, depending on that game’s particular horror story, drew ever more attention. I think a lot of it was coaching- or lack thereof- which thankfully has been addressed. So yes, some attention to the basics of defensive football would be nice. It’s all sound and fury until an actual game occurs, though. OSU really has no excuses to showcase notable improvement given the OOC schedule.

      3. Tony-I appreciate the fact that you wrote on this topic knowing the risk of violence directed your way because you poked the grizzly. Such courage.
        I agree with almost everything you said here, so I don’t want to participate in the violence, but I have to “correct” one turrible (the misspelling is intentional) statement.

        “Over the last two years . . . .”

        Two years? Ohio State corner backs have shortened my life via their back to the ball, blind to the ball so called coverage for AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER! I am not young anymore, so I know I forget how long I can remember, but I am certain my memory goes way beyond 2 years. These guys have been killing me for at least 6 years–the entire Urban Meyer reign. But it might go beyond that. I can’t remember.
        All of that to say, “somewhat more than last year” MIGHT be acceptable. But it might not relieve the residual pain of so many years of watching things i.e. cornerbacks heads, going in the wrong direction. i don’t need perfection to relieve my pain. I need hope, and I’m afraid “somewhat more” will not support my hope habit. For hope to live, I need “pretty consistently” heads going in the right direction.
        Is that too much to ask for?

        1. The reason I said the last two years is because the 2016 defense was good enough that if people want to complain about it, I’m not gonna listen. LOL.

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