Idle Hands Are the Devil’s Playthings
Prior to the 2018 season, the NCAA allowed football programs to hire a 10th assistant coach. Ohio State made that 10th coach Alex Grinch from Washington State.
Grinch took over the safeties from defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, who was then left without a position to coach.
Instead of now having a position of his own to fret over day and night, Schiano went from station to station during practice watching what he could and helping where he was needed.
The benefit for some of no longer having a position to coach is that there is now more time to coordinate and gameplan. This can also be a downside.
For new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, not having a position to coach was not something that he could live with. He pretty quickly took over the Sams and Bullets, which is a unique enough of a position to require its own coach.
“I tried to at first not (to have a position),” Mattison said. “I coached a long time. I couldn’t do it. After a while, I felt like ‘what am I doing?’ I felt like I was cheating. I’m coaching the Sam linebackers and I’m working with (linebackers coach) Al (Washington) because you have to work them together. But that’s been very positive that way because it’s not like when you’re coaching 20 guys, because a lot of time for me has to be the practice schedule, the playbook and those kinds of things. It’s worked out good.”
Young Cornerbacks Learning
Ohio State’s starting cornerback duo of Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah is expected to be very good this season. With new coaches and new schemes, both players have adapted and adjusted quickly.
Going without a three-man rotation at cornerback will be new for the Buckeyes, who haven’t gone with just two corners since 2015.
But that doesn’t mean Okudah and Arnette won’t need help.
One place where secondary coach Jeff Hafley will certainly be looking is in the direction of second-year cornerbacks Sevyn Banks, Tyreke Johnson, and Cameron Brown.
Brown played on special teams early last year and Banks played there late — as evidenced by his touchdown on a blocked punt in Ohio State’s 62-39 win over Michigan last season. Johnson, however, was the highest-ranked recruit of the three and yet didn’t see the field.
There is no shame in redshirting at cornerback for the Buckeyes. First rounders Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, and Bradley Roby have all done it as well.
This will be Arnette’s final season at Ohio State, and it is expected to be Okudah’s as well, so even though there won’t be a rotation this season, each of the second-year corners will need to be ready to compete for starting jobs next year.
How did they do in the spring?
“I think they’re young and they’re maturing and starting to see what could be for them if they put in the work with (strength coach) Mick (Marotti), with us,” Hafley said.
“They’ve got talent and they’ve got size. You saw how long those guys are. They’re what you’re looking for when you draw them up. Now we have to work their fundamentals and technique and keep training them. I’m hoping they can develop. They’ve done a really good job of bringing good players here. Now it’s our job to develop them.”
Will Crossing Routes Continue?
Would it surprise you if at least three nights per week, former Michigan defensive backs were waking up in a cold sweat as they keep reliving crossing route after crossing route against the Buckeyes?
In some Ann Arbor nightmares, Chris Olave and KJ Hill are still running.
The crossing routes were a large part of the passing offense last season for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the type of defense the Buckeyes were seeing.
“Because people play so much man, there became some crossing stuff,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson explained. “We were getting a lot of man to man, so we went to that crossing stuff. Now we’re getting a lot of zone. Those crossing concepts have always been there, but they maybe got emphasized a little more especially with Ryan’s background coming out of the NFL and Dwayne’s ability and throwing it to dynamic players.”
Will the crossing routes continue this season?
That’s not entirely up to the Buckeyes.
“Defenses keep changing, too,” Wilson said. “And really good offenses can stay with the defense and try to stay one up or anticipate what you’re going to get. There are great defensive coaches and players, so guys change. We have to anticipate what guys go to to make changes. I think you’ll see some evolution, not because we’re in a different place, it’s just that you’re getting different defenses too.”