COLUMBUS — Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison met with reporters following practice Friday morning. It was his first time speaking with the media since signing day in February. He was asked plenty of questions about his defense and how the players are acclimating to the new scheme. Here are the highlights.
+ Mattison hasn’t had to sell his move to recruits because he says he only speaks about the positives of where he is.
+ There are only so many ways to play sound defensive football. That means you have to be able to play an 8-man front at times, you have to play man at times, you have to play zone at times, and you have to be able to provide pressure. “It’s never been schemes that have won.” It’s who you’re teaching, and he loves this group of guys because they want to learn and get better.
+ The defensive staff is meshing well. “I’m a very fortunate person because I have the ability to work with a great staff.” When you come to work with the best defensive line coach in your room, that’s a good start to the day. The staff is not made up of egos. “You feel that every day when you come in.”
+ His job is to be a leader of this defensive staff. “Coordinator means coordinating people’s great ideas.” That’s what he and Jeff Hafley do.
+ “I love D-line. I’ve been with D-line most of my life.” When he got here and watched them, it wasn’t hard for him to see that this group of defensive linemen was as good as there is. So he believes when you have a group like this, you turn them loose and let them go. So he wanted to return to the north-south approach that the team went away from last year.
+ Mattison doesn’t look at what went wrong last year on the OSU defense. He looked at the positives. The secondary is fast, strong, and experienced. The linebackers look like defensive linemen and run like linebackers are supposed to run. Little things can happen because of youth, but now these guys are a year older. The thing is to keep it simpler and let the defense play. “Put it in their hands more. I’m not saying they didn’t do that before, but that’s what we’re going to do.”
+ He spent 13 years “up north” and there are great people there, but when Ryan Day made the offer, “it didn’t take long” for him to accept it.
+ Mattison is a very strong believer that with all of the tempo, you have to rotate defensive players. They are playing as hard and fast as they can. You can’t ask them to do that all game without giving them break. There is enough depth and talent to allow starters to take breaks. There are times when he looks at players and is amazed that they are a second-teamer.
+ When you have a good defense, you don’t have a first and second team. You have two first teams.
+ Mattison doesn’t want to name guys who are standing out at linebacker until after the spring. There is good depth and he doesn’t want to leave somebody out. You’re going to see plenty of linebackers play this year.
+ Mattison noticed Ryan Day very early on when they were at Florida together. “I remember him the first day.” He asked where Day was from because he was so mature and ahead of his age. Back at Florida, he knew at that time that there was no doubt Day would be a head coach. “He’s so far ahead of his time.”
+ When approaching Mattison about coaching the defense, Day wanted the kind of defense that Mattison is associated with. You want to be physical against the run and you want to provide pressure. “He knew that’s what I believed in.” Then the mix with Jeff Hafley is a great mix because he’s ahead of his time in the secondary as well.
+ The Bullet can play in the secondary and play safety or can be a Sam/OLB and can blitz. If he can do all of those things, you’ve got the whole package. It’s hard to substitute in today’s football, so if you have a guy that can move around from run defense to pass defense.
+ “We could go a whole game in Bullet. And at the same time go a whole game in Regular.”
+ In this defense, the Mike and Will have to be interchangeable because the best players have to play. He also believes if you know the position next to you, you’ll play yours better.