COLUMBUS — Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson spoke with reporters on Tuesday. Mattison talked a bit about freshman defensive end Zach Harrison and his growth so far, as well as many other topics. Wilson spoke about the toughness of this offensive line and how well the running game is going, and several other topics as well. Here are the highlights.
+ Zach Harrison is working extremely hard and Mattison is very pleased with him. He works as hard as he can each day and has great character and wants to be great. Every day you see him get better.
+ Working for Ryan Day … “He’s who you want to work with.” You want to work with guys that have great character and who care about players more than anything. The players see the same thing. He’s not fake, he’s not phony.
+ Did he research Ohio State when he took over here? “I didn’t have to study anything about Ohio State.” He played against them about 15 times.
+ Shaun Wade’s value was asked about, but Mattison said you can make a statement about any number of players on this defense. The guys are developing like they want them to. “We’ve been really pleased with him (Shaun Wade).”
+ There is definitely a sense that the depth on defense is building. They are trying to play anybody who has earned the right to play. The kids have bought in.
+ Would he compare anybody else he’s seen to Chase Young? “No. I don’t like to compare them because he’s his own person.”
+ Zach Harrison isn’t not surprising him because you saw the possibilities and he’s got great character. A lot of times, when freshman come in they can go one of two ways if they’re not playing. He has continued to ascend even with guys in front of him.
+ Ryan Day has had input with the defensive staff on stuff that gives him trouble, but he generally leaves them alone.
+ Shaun Wade allows them to match up with whatever an offense throws at them and doesn’t require them to dial down what they might call.
+ Cornerbacks have to have a lot of confidence or they won’t survive, so they are going to “talk” on the field and make their voices heard and that’s okay. But they all know there is a line they can’t cross and they are disciplined and good character guys, so they understand.
+ Regarding Brendon White’s role being diminished, Mattison stresses that it is still early and White moved from a safety to a linebacker and he’s getting better and better every week. Pete Werner has done a great job and has given them the luxury of not having to substitute.
+ He doesn’t like to compare head coaches he’s worked for. “They’re all good. I’m a lucky guy.”
+ Regarding the defensive end rotation, the position coach handles that, as all position coaches do. They may go into a game wanting to play a guy a certain number of plays and they have somebody chart that. That’s the luxury of having great depth.
+ Asked about Nick Bosa, he said his son sent him some video. “We’re not allowed to taunt in college. We had our chance.”
+ Asked about working with Ryan Day, it’s been a very positive experience. They were very close the previous two years, so he had a pretty good feel for how it would go.
+ Football is like an art museum and everyone has different views of the art and it gives the offense a number of different perspectives.
+ The offensive line is playing really hard and sometimes it’s not really as clean as you’d like because defenses are so multiple, but they’re playing so hard and rolling off the ball. Once they get going, they get so much confidence and you can see the momentum. “You can feel our offense right now.” They are building momentum right now. “I don’t know if we played well the other night, but we played awfully hard.” “It’s a fun group right now.”
+ You can overpractice during an off week, so there’s a balance you have to find. You can be fresh and stale if you take too much time off, so there’s a find line there as well.
+ Branden Bowen and Josh Alabi have been fine. Both were banged up a little bit. They are both capable of being really good, but they will probably need both to be really good. It doesn’t matter who goes in first.
+ He would be very confidence if Nick Petit-Frere had to come in, but they’ve got two fifth-year guys in front of him. Harry Miller is as good a freshman as he’s seen in terms of handling the strength and mental side of playing center. He’s capable of playing right now, but he’s not needed because of how good Josh Myers is.
+ His concern coming into the season with Justin Fields was based in part on how hard he saw JT Barrett would prepare and he wondered what kind of prep guy Fields would be. He’s been impressed by that and his maturity and calmness during the games and he can articulate what he is seeing and what he likes and what he can do.
+ There are different types of toughness for quarterbacks. There are tough quarterbacks who never take hits. JT Barrett was extremely tough physically and mentally. Fields has a chance to show that mental toughness that all great quarterbacks have.
+ “Running the ball is an attitude. It’s a mindset. It’s a groupset.” If you keep pounding on that rock with the running game, the rock will eventually break, but it takes time. Wide receivers come here to catch the ball, but right now OSU is running the ball so well, so they have to block. The perimeter guys want the ball, but they are blocking hard and they are all bought in.
+ The tight ends are targeted a little less than maybe he thought, but that’s also because they’re running the ball so well right now. Everybody wants the ball and it can be hard for guys to stay bought in, but the coaches have to connect with the players to make sure they understand the culture and the situation.
+ Regarding toughness, “It’s not learning how to punch, sometimes it’s learning how to take a punch.”
+ Every time the quarterback is a run threat and a throw threat, you’ve got Pandora’s box for the defense. Fields is just scratching the surface on the player he can be, and that’s exciting.
+ Day has done really well in game planning. Wilson told Day last week that if he doesn’t have a comfort level in practice with certain plays then he’s not going to have the comfort level to call the play in a game. Head coaches get pulled in a lot of different directions, so it’s the asst coaches job to keep him confident in what happens during practice. That keeps him aggressive and that’s what the coaches want. “I think he’s done a masterful job of that.”
+ Luke Farrell did a great job on his touchdown of taking care of the ball. “I think he is a better football player than he thinks he is.” Wilson wants him playing with more confidence and swagger.