Over the offseason, Ohio State implemented a brand new defensive scheme, which included the addition of the hybrid linebacker/safety position known as the Bullet.
In the spring, it was clear that Brendon White and Jahsen Wint were the new Bullets taking on the responsibilities of this position. From play to play, they could line up at an outside linebacker spot or in the slot, or fall back into a deep safety position. Buckeye teammates expressed how well both White and Wint were performing their new duties.
But against Cincinnati last Saturday, it was junior linebacker Pete Werner moving all over the field. Werner, who has traditionally played as the Sam linebacker, was roving all over the place, seemingly doing everything people expected the Bullets to do.
At times in the game, Werner was back as a deep safety, replacing senior safety Jordan Fuller as he ran to another part of the field.
Seeing Werner in deep coverage situations came as a surprise to many, but co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley sees Werner as a guy who can play a number of different roles.
“He’s athletic. He’s way more athletic than anybody gives him credit for,” Hafley said. “So that gives us a little bit of a weapon that he can move around and do things that you or people don’t think that he can do. Right? So Pete’s an athletic guy. I mean, he can play a lot of different spots. So it’s fun to have him out there. You can do different things.”
Despite some who might raise an eyebrow or two, Hafley is completely confident in having Werner in that spot.
“If there was risk, I don’t think we’d run it,” he said. “So I think we feel pretty confident in Pete doing that.”
Although his role varies and will probably continue to change based on the matchups, the coaching staff clearly trusts Werner to make plays wherever he is on the field. And that trust goes both ways.
Werner admitted to having some trepidation about what his role would be this year with the addition of the Bullet, but his trust in the coaches made this an easy transition. He never questioned his playing time or how he would fit into this defense, and he never feared that a Bullet on the field would take away from his own opportunities.
“I just know that I trusted my coaches, they would put me in the best ability to make me play as well as I could. So I kind of trusted in them. But I didn’t really know anything about the scheme,” Werner said. “I was just knowing I was going to go out there and try to impress coaches and do my thing. So yeah, as far as Bullet, I didn’t really know anything about the Bullet at that point. I knew that I was going to give it my all and show my capabilities.”
Ohio State’s new scheme has worked tremendously well so far this season. Players are rallying to the football and they are feeding off of each other’s energy. This defense has found a comfort level early on, and for Werner that is especially true.
“I think it fits me better,” he said of his role this year. “I think it fits me personally, like as my position, my athletic ability better. And I feel like having a whole year under my belt last year, I feel like I’m personally better. You know, my footwork’s better. My eyes are better. And I feel like with this position, you need your footwork, you need your eyes, and that’ll help you out a bunch. So I feel like yeah, just my athletic ability kind of leads me to doing well at this position.”
Longtime fan- I had to revisit this. Since stats matter to you, did Pete provide enough for you on Saturday to justify him being on the field? Tied for lead in tackles and 2 TFLs. Did you see enough tangibles, or was he still “waltzing”?
Michael Jennings: You’ve actually missed the obvious. This article was not about a 42-0 drubbing, it was about a specific player (his name is in the title, for Pete’s sake- and yes, that was intentional…)
Secondly- and again- the stats really do matter. They comprise the sum total of an effort that leads, for example, to a 42-0 score. A great example was the second team preserving the shutout at the end of the game. Every game won’t end in a backyard beating like the first two have. When the game is tight, the question becomes “Which guys should be out on the field to give us the best shot at winning?” I know you follow the team and read the articles, so you know Werner’s inclusion has caused some heartburn amongst the fans. Keep in mind that his time has apparently impacted the time of Brendon White and other LBs. Is that wise? Will it work in a close game?
Finally- and again- I know of no one who “hates” Pete Werner. I do know lots of people who want to see the best 11 out there at all times. The LBs were a mess last year, excepting Harrison, so it’s natural the defensive focus would fall on them. That’s a wrap…
Sorry, I don’t get it either.
One play, Malik was the left outside linebacker on a run to the opposite side. He had to run behind and past Tuf & Pete to make the tackle.
I keep hoping they play better, but still waiting.
Joe Smith — without knowing what play you are talking about, Tuf and Pete’s assignments may have been to maintain their gaps or cutbacks, whereas Harrison didn’t have one since the play was opposite him.
You don’t get it because you don’t know specific assignments for that play, as Tony states. Too easy to look at stats and judge performance. Pete’s value extends beyond just stats. Trust is a big intangible with Pete that the coaches love. Fans don’t always appreciate it and it doesn’t always transfer to the box score. Give Pete credit for being open to new things and working his ass off at whatever he is asked to do.
Chris, did Pete Werner bully you or something? Every time there is an article talking about him, you come here and bad mouth him every single time. Werner is playing much, much better this year and you’re too blind to see that apparently.
Ill see you on the next article regarding Pete.
Seems Werner must have bullied quite a few people on this thread… it is what it is.
I agree, Christopher. Perhaps Pete Werner’s contributions are too subtle for me to notice. I can only hope the incredible amount of opportunity he is getting- at the expense of others- pays off for the team.
a basic of Deception is a name-calling contest for those folks fixating on a position or a possession.
Buck68- PLEASE tell me just one of your online passwords is “Tom Bombadil”. Please! That would be something that actually makes sense. (I can dream, can’t I?)
Very odd. Now playing Werner at Bullet/Safety and LB…anything to keep him on the field. It must manifest in practice because I have yet to watch one game where his play warrants the coaches commitment to his playing time. That said, this is the second batch of coaches to ride with Werner so dont be surprised if Brendan White says “Portal here I come”… couldn’t blame him. He is a player that should have way more than 34 snaps in two games.
@Christopher PerryMaybe you don’t understand what is being asked of Werner. You can’t recall one good play- did you watch the Michigan game? I’m not sure how you are evaluating him, but two sets of coaches both agree that Werner is valuable and should be on the field. I feel better about their evaluations than yours. He is most versatile player on the defense, arguably. It does feel like you have something personal against Pete, good call @Logan.
Buckyfango- I just couldn’t take the double standards and nonsense anymore. You talk about “trust” and “intangibles”, while OTHER players are very much valued and evaluated on “tangibles”- TD passes, yards per carry, passes broken up, tackles for loss, on and on. According to you, Werner has another grading scale, which is NUTS. As for his alleged versatility, I suppose that’s another trait too finely nuanced to be defined by mere stats? If the guy becomes a menace, rather than a waltz specialist, I’ll gladly own up to being wrong.
@longtimefan. The grading scale is not ours to define. It is the coaches. And, versatility doesn’t always show up on stats. Good pass coverage, for example. If ball is thrown away, the defender has done his job. Many times, Werner is in coverage and ball is away from him. Not sure how this is nonsense. Let’s trust the coaches. They see more than you or me.
Buckyfango- Since we are on a FAN site, the scale actually IS ours to define. The people who comment on these types of issues are, in general, devout watchers with lots of years of fandom in their belts. They want OSU to be the best it can be, don’t care if the player succeeding is named “Smith” or “Jones”, and are thankfully unencumbered by behind the scenes considerations while doing so. Does that make us coaches? Nope. But we have seen this movie before, if you get my meaning. Trusting the defensive coaches didn’t work out so well last season, right? My take has never been some sort of secret dislike for Werner; rather, it is a desire for the best players to see the field. I want other guys- who are talked up through the ceiling by these same coaches by the way!- to have a chance to see what they can do. Defensive football is most effective with tangibles; in other words, even the sweetest intangible comes in 2nd place. (Think of “try hard” versus “do well”). Again, maybe I’m wrong. But if I’m right, wasted talent continues to waste.
While I agree that Pete Werner is often unfairly criticized, I also wish people would quit spouting “two coaching staffs believed in him” when one of those coaching staffs is universally agreed to have royally sucked at coaching football. And as for the Werner haters running they jibs about stats, the only stat that really mattered/matters is __-0 (that’s a shutout, in case it wasn’t obvious).
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