Advice You Actually Want From Your Neighbor
As coaches move through their respective careers, most of them continue to keep in touch with their mentors because they are an invaluable resource.
Those mentors have generally gone through everything that the younger coach is about to have to deal with.
Ryan Day has mentors he can still call up whenever the need arises. UCLA’s Chip Kelly and Boston College’s Steve Addazio are two coaches that Day can lean on in his new position as Ohio State’s head coach.
Of course, there is a much more relevant resource as well in Urban Meyer, and no coach would know better everything that is entailed in being the head coach of the Ohio State football program.
Which is why Day makes use of having Meyer so close.
“For sure. I’d be crazy if I didn’t,” Day said. “First off, what he’s meant and Shelley has meant to Nina and I and our family, I could talk about that for hours. And he’s been unbelievable in terms of understanding when to be there, when to step away. He’s taken multiple phone calls from me just looking for advice on how to handle certain things.
“And that would have been the case if I was anywhere else because of our relationship, but being at Ohio State and being right across the street, he’s an unbelievable resource and he’s been a huge help, and he’s going to continue to do that throughout the fall.”
Last season, linebacker Malik Harrison and safety Jordan Fuller tied for the Ohio State team lead in tackles with 81.
There is a common football belief that great defenses can’t have a safety lead the team in tackles because the ball should have been stopped well before it got to the literal last line of defense.
As an example of this, we can look back to the 2001 and 2002 Ohio State defenses.
The 2001 defense, which was led in tackles by safety Mike Doss with 87, wasn’t much to write home about.
The 2002 defense, however, was led in tackles by middle linebacker Matt Wilhelm with 121, and every single Buckeye fan has a warm spot in their heart for that defense and that team.
An argument against this argument is the fact that Doss had 20 more tackles in 2002 than he did in 2001, so having a safety making a bunch of tackles isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rather, it is the lack of tackles by everyone else that makes the safety’s numbers stand out.
Ohio State senior safety Jordan Fuller understands the negative connotation that could come with him leading the Buckeyes in tackles again this year, but wants to lead the team once again if necessary.
“I do. The linebackers probably don’t. I want to lead the team in tackles,” he said. “But I would say like, the kinds of tackles I was making weren’t the best, and they weren’t like highlight plays, so like, it wasn’t great for us, I would say. So I would much rather lower my tackles than have the team suffer.”
Last season, Fuller played closer to the line of scrimmage than he is expected to this year. Because of this, his tackles may go down, but as the deepest man on the defense, his tackles could mean more than they did before.
Maintaining the Standard
There are nine seniors on the Ohio State offense and each of them is going to be called upon to make sure the standard doesn’t backslide this season.
Losing quarterback Dwayne Haskins and three productive senior receivers is significant, but it is up to the Buckeyes who are returning to lead the team forward into 2019.
For KJ Hill, he understands why his leadership is important and he knows what he will be watching for to make sure things are progressing in the proper fashion.
“Because I know the standard of the offense,” Hill said. “Coach Day always talks about it. We did big things last year so there can’t be a drop-off. It’s got to be better than last year. I was a part of that group. I knew what we did, I knew everything we did under the table that people don’t see, so I’m going to have to show them the ropes, show them what we did and go to work with everybody.”
What kind of pressure does that put on the players?
“It’s a lot of pressure, but you’re at Ohio State. You’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Hill said. “You’ve got to be that offense, you’ve got to be explosive. That’s what the fans expect. That’s the standard at Ohio State and if you can’t do that at Ohio State, you don’t need to be there.”