COLUMBUS — Ohio State coordinators Kevin Wilson and Jeff Hafley will be speaking with the media around 12:30 pm today to talk about Saturday’s upcoming game against Florida Atlantic. They will also provide some updates on the football team as a whole. Also speaking will be Tuf Borland, Robert Landers, Branden Bowen, and KJ Hill. We will begin providing updates once the sessions begin. Refresh for updates.
+ Within the system of a defense, you have a set of rules that you rely on, so when you see a formation you haven’t seen before, you rely on your rules.
+ Al Washington has great energy and passion for his players. The linebackers love playing for him. His energy and passion is something that makes him different than coaches Borland has played for in the past.
+ Things have changed with a new coaching staff, but his mentality hasn’t changed because he’s always worked like he has to re-prove himself every year. He’s looking forward to not talking about last year anymore.
+ “We definitely have a chip on our shoulder” with how things went last year on defense.
+ Lane Kiffin is an innovative play caller with athletes all over the field.
+ Tackling has been emphasized even on days when they weren’t in pads or hitting. They struggled with tackling last season and it hurt them. Tackling is the meat and potatoes of the game. They have hit on it so much this offseason that the improvement will have them looking completely different this season.
+ Day is full capable of getting after the players, but right now a lot of that is being handled by the older players. They have a connection with Day that they’ll know if they need to address something with their unit or a teammate. But Day won’t have a problem putting his foot down when he has to put his foot down.
+ Lane Kiffin will have his boys ready. He knows how to put his players in positions to be successful. They will not underestimate the scheme or the players because there is talent there as well.
+ Have they practiced well enough to not be sloppy in game one? You’d like to think so, but playing a game is just different. Simulations only do so much. When adversity hits, they’ll need to revert to their training.
+ Tommy Togiai has been outstanding. He’s not just a big, strong guy. You’ll see his different elements this season. “I’m proud of where he’s come from where he started.” Landers is looking forward to watching him this season.
+ On Jonathon Cooper: “Coop will be back soon.” Guys have to step up all across the board and fill that void.
+ Larry Johnson likes to rotate at every position because it keeps the tempo high.
+ Playing tackle is different than guard because at guard you’re using brute strength to push 300-pounders around. At tackle, you have to handle speedier pass rushers.
+ Thayer Munford is hungry. He’s had a fire to get back. It’s pushed him every day to get better and back to where he needed to be.
+ Gavin Cupp has battled through a lot but he is an important piece. He improves the attitude of the entire line. The group as a whole has great chemistry. It has a different feel that he’s never been around. They all hang out. They’ve been close before, but not to this level. Bowen is “absolutely surprised” at how well Jonah Jackson has gelled into the group. He’s a mature guy and a leader. It’s beneficial to have him and hasn’t been a problem becoming friends with him.
+ Where has he improved the most? His attitude. Over the past couple of years he has learned to shake off bad plays. He has helped his teammates with that as well.
+ “I know what it takes to start here.”
+ Now that he has a family to provide for, the stakes are higher, but the support system has been better. It’s good to go home his fiancé and his son every day.
+ He and Nick Petit-Frere have pushed each other and made each other better than they could have ever imagined.
+ Having a starting job taken away by injury gave him a new perspective. It taught him to appreciate what he has and the opportunities available to him.
+ He won’t be thinking about the nerves on Saturday, just how thankful he is to be able to play with his brothers again.
+ They are able to rotate because there are a lot of old guys helping the younger players.
+ It will be emotional to get the start on Saturday. When he found out a few minutes ago, he almost wanted to break down and cry. He always thought he would get back to this point.
+ Sometimes Justin Fields will see things where he will be able to audible. “It’s not a green light all over the place” but he’ll have to get them in the right spots at times.
+ Playcalling isn’t guessing. “I wouldn’t stay here so late at night if it was guessing.” It’s about having answers for questions the defense poses. There is guesswork, but it’s still about doing what you do and then being able to adapt.
+ You always want to do on offense what you prepared to do during the week, but you also have to be able to adjust to what the defense shows you and has success with. It can take a few weeks to get a good rhythm. The first few weeks are stressful in that regard for coaches.
+ Ryan Day is in a different role but he’s tried to continue to be himself. He’s not trying to reinvent things and that’s the quality of a strong leader.
+ There will be some feeling out regarding FAU’s new defensive system. Especially early in the season when opponents have so much time to prepare for Ohio State’s offense.
+ Greg Studrawa will monitor the sidelines to get the feel for when to roll some other linemen in the game. It’s not a revolving door. Harry Miller has had an outstanding preseason. Guards have been very good as well.
+ Any play can be a critical error and the quarterback can be exposed, so you try to protect him with his teammates and be smart about what you do. But you still have to go out and score as many points as you can.
+ He’s happy for Branden Bowen and proud of him and his family. Bowen persevered and he’s still battling Nick Petit-Frere. He’s practicing as tough as he’s ever practiced. His pad level is low and he’s had a tremendous preseason.
+ When Justin Fields takes off running, he’s as fast as Wilson has seen. He has arm strength. He is comfortable throwing on the run. “His skill set is as high as I’ve been around.” He has a unique skill set, but “the real ones have a skill set on Saturday.”
+ To be a complete tight end, you have to be able to block. Even the tight ends who catch 60 passes a year are still playing hundreds of plays without the ball.
+ Wilson says there’s a lot of information put out by opponents on social media that you can freeze and examine.
+ In the NFL preseason, you miss a lot of tackles in the first three games and you don’t start tackling well until the regular season starts. That’s a concern, but they have worked hard to be ready in game one.
+ The simplicity thing regarding the defense has been a little blown out of proportion. There is a good number of packages and blitzes and they’re “gonna roll with them.” They won’t be simple watching them, but defensive football is about lining up in the right place, running as fast and hard as you can, and tackling.
+ Offenses are going to make plays and the players have to realize that that’s okay now and again because it happens.
+ You prepare your team during the week and then on Saturday you have to let them go play. You can’t bog them down with complications.
+ Play calling isn’t guessing, but it is tough in the first game of the season to know what to expect. There won’t be a lot of guessing and taking chances this week. They’ll be focused on playing football.
+ It makes sense that people are talking about Jeff Okudah as the next great Ohio State cornerback. But he hasn’t played a whole lot and he has a lot to work on. Every great player has a different mindset than the regular players. It is their approach to the game and to their job. “If Jeff can learn to do that and that becomes who he is, then I do think he has a chance.” That is what Hafley talks to him about.
+ The coaching staff has fun together. They challenge each other. None of them are afraid to say what is on their mind, and that is very important.
+ Hafley knows who will start at linebacker and everybody else will know on Friday when the depth chart is released. Al Washington has done a great job of challenging his players. They compete with each other and they’ve gotten better.
+ “We’ve got to tackle. We’ve got to run and tackle. We’ve got to do our job.”
+ Lane Kiffin is a really smart football coach who does a great job attacking schemes. They have a highly-recruiting quarterback. They have a talented slot receiver who can run.
+ FAU has a very good tight end that they’ll need to be aware of. Whether it’s the Sam or Bullet or Nickel, they all have to play with technique.
+ If guys show in practice that they’re good enough to play, they’ll play.
+ Hafley likes being up in the press box because it’s like watching things in slow motion. He’s been up there before. He tried to be up there last year, but his players wanted him down on the field.
+ It’s more important to be upstairs for him right now. He trusts the rest of the staff to handle the sidelines.