Morning Conversational: What Has Greg Mattison Seen From Brendon White So Far?
The Ohio State football team has gone through a number of changes from January until now.
A new head coach. New defensive staff. New quarterback room.
But perhaps no single Buckeye has gone through more changes than junior Brendon White.
After spending a second or two at linebacker prior to his freshman season, and then a stint at wide receiver, White was moved to safety. Last year as a sophomore, he stepped in during the middle of the season and solidified OSU’s deep safety position for the first time all season.
In doing so, he seemingly settled the spot in the coming years as well.
But then OSU head coach Ryan Day went out and hired some defensive coaches who believed the Buckeyes were lacking a hybrid safety/linebacker.
They quickly locked on to White as their top target at the position and this spring seemingly proved their intuition.
“I think we definitely put him in the best position for his skill level,” co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said last week. “We play a lot of man coverage and to do that as a safety sometimes you have to have the ability to play down on a slot. You have to play against a really good player and sometimes safeties can’t do that. Therefore you come with packages.”
Those packages will see him alternating with Sam linebacker Pete Werner. Depending on the opponent, down, or distance, it will generally either be White or Werner in the lineup.
“Pete Werner is an outstanding football player,” Mattison said. “Him playing outside of the box might not make him as good a player, where Brendon might be. So you come up with what we’re calling the Bullet position where he can cover that guy. We’re trying to make him that position and that’s not always easy, especially when you’ve had a lot of success playing zone coverage as a free safety. Now you’re playing a lot of man coverage so we say how can we make it best for him?”
The coaches know they are asking a lot of Brendon White, and he has been receptive to everything they’re throwing at him. He has only had 15 practices at the position, so he will continue watching film and studying the possibilities of his position over the summer. Then once fall camp hits, he will be getting closer to being the kind of playmaker that the Bullet position requires.
“The thing I’ve really been proud of is ever since the spring — and we had a very good conversation about this — about what he must do to improve, what he has to do to be the successful player we want him to be, and he’s been all in,” Mattison said. “I’ve noticed in the workouts he’s working really hard, so I’m really excited about him.”