Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley met with reporters on Monday, as did senior safety Jordan Fuller and redshirt sophomore center Josh Myers. Hafley talked about what his defense did in the off week and how they still have plenty to fix. Fuller and Myers also answered plenty of questions from the assembled reporters.
+ Shaun Wade’s ability to help out in the run game is really important. You need the inside corner to do more than cover. Anybody they ask to fill that spot has to be able to defend the run. “He really works hard at it.”
+ Josh Proctor has made really good improvements since the winter. He understands the scheme and works hard. He’s played a little more in the last few games and hopefully that will continue to happen.
+ Northwestern’s quarterbacks are talented. Hunter Johnson has size and good arm strength. They are preparing for both quarterbacks.
+ Cameron Brown did a good job last week coming off of the bench and replacing Damon Arnette. He may have improved the most out of anybody in the secondary since Hafley’s arrival. “He’s really developed and he’s really grown up.”
+ Hafley is very comfortable with the backup cornerbacks.
+ “There’s no doubt that Shaun could play outside.” If they need it, Wade can be very good outside. Those conversations have been had and they’ve almost moved some guys around. Hafley doesn’t talk to Wade about the NFL. “He still has to get better. We all do.”
+ Why fewer chunk plays this year? It’s a credit to the players and staff. It’s also schematic. They want to eliminate explosive plays. If they have a blitz that they like, but it provides an opportunity to allow an explosive play, they’re not going to put it in. Everything is about making an offense drive the length of the field against them. And then you also have to tackle. You also don’t want a bunch of one-on-ones with the way offenses try to spread defenses out.
+ Justin Fields is a very challenging quarterback to defend. He will sit in the pocket and wants to throw the ball down the field. He makes you cover for a long time, then has the ability to tuck it late and run.
+ You have to prepare for guys to leave early and you do that through recruiting, but when you coach the young guys hard, that is also preparing for older guys to leave early. The young guys being developed is more important than the recruits who aren’t here yet. “We don’t want them to wait.” They want the young players challenging the veterans.
+ You’d like freshmen to be ready, but it’s hard. It’s a hard position to come in and play and be ready. It’s a big jump from high school to college. How are they going to react to the speed and the rules and the coverages.
+ Hafley isn’t concerned about next year because there is a lot of season left. Everybody in his room right now better be ready to play on Saturday. Next year is a lifetime away.
+ Hafley wasn’t surprised by how Cam Brown played because of how well he’s prepared.
+ Hafley feels good about the current commits, but they’ll see what happens when they get here. They wouldn’t recruit them if they didn’t think they could be special.
+ The off week happened at a really good team. It gave them a good opportunity to look at their tendencies and fix some things, maybe improve some things, and put some people in better positions. There’s a lot of things they could be doing better and need to do better. “Defense is about all of the little things.” You can’t just look at the results, you need to look at the entire picture and process through film.
+ Chase Young affects a lot of what an offense does. As Hafley studies film and is watching teams run deep routes that could hit big, those plays don’t get called on Saturdays because of the Ohio State defensive line.
+ Fuller feels like he’s gotten better each week and wanted to improve on a lot of little things from last year, and he feels like he’s done that.
+ The vibe for the entire team has been great this year and the team is having fun. He wants to leave a legacy here and go out on top.
+ He wants to leave Ohio State a better place than when he came in and he wants to leave an imprint on the young safeties.
+ During a bye week “you’re really able to look in the mirror.”
+ Cam Brown has always been a freak athlete. Super fast. But he was raw and new to corner. His work ethic and focus has propelled him forward. He could be the next guy everybody is talking about.
+ Why fewer big plays? Tackling has gotten better, as has the pursuit to the ball. You don’t feel like you’re in one-on-one situations.
+ Shaun Wade brings a lot of versatility and is very smart. He calls out plays. “Shoot, at my position I bet he could excel at too.”
+ “I can feel a little bored at times because everybody’s making plays in front of me.”
+ Does he consider himself a mean person? No. You do have to be a different person on the field than off the field. His mindset started early on that you had to be somebody different on the field and be a nice person off the field. It helped playing in high school offense as well, which was run heavy.
+ His transition to center has not been seamless. He had a full year to develop into a center as a redshirt freshman. He was upset and angry that he didn’t win the job last year. Looking back now, he probably wasn’t ready for it. This year competing for the job he approached it that he has something to prove every day and he kept it at the forefront of his mind and didn’t let it slip.
+ With the time the offensive line has spent together, they have meshed very well. Camp was huge for that. You have no choice but to spend all day together.
+ He is significantly more comfortable now than he was in week one, but he was comfortable then as well. He’s answered a lot more questions now and so he has more confidence in what he is doing. It took a while to accept that the calls aren’t always going to be perfect.
+ The offensive line trusts each other which has helped them play so well this year.
+ Harry Miller has been “super consistent” which is hard for a freshman to do. He does stuff that freshmen shouldn’t be doing.
+ Northwestern’s defense has a tough scheme. They have good players too. They have two interior guys who are tough, he can tell that on film.
+ Asked if anybody on the offensive line does impressions of Greg Studrawa, Myers said, “No……….”
+ Myers had a lot of bad habits he had to break early in his career and he is still working on them. He wasn’t comfortable with his pass protection until about halfway through the season.
+ Cooper credits the lack of big plays allowed on attitude. They came out with something to prove this year and they trust the scheme.
+ They won’t be looking ahead to Wisconsin because they only focus on the week ahead and that opponent.
+ Cooper feels a lot better now. He wasn’t 100% when he returned, but having an off week has him feeling closer to 100%.
+ “I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface…” of this defense. They are taking the necessary steps each week to get there.
+ He spent his bye week getting rest. He wants to get back to feeling good and feeling like he can do what he used to be able to do.
+ He thought Zach Harrison could have this kind of impact. He came in and worked hard from day one. He’s huge, talented, and very, very fast. He didn’t expect anything less for Zach.
+ Young guys got some great reps while he was out. It wasn’t great for Cooper personally, but it helped Harrison and Javontae Jean-Baptiste.
+ Are the coaches nitpicking? “No.” People see them playing well, but when you watch the film you see there is still a lot for them to get better at.