Ohio State Updates from Jeff Hafley, Justin Fields, Branden Bowen — Nov. 19

Jeff Hafley Ohio State Buckeyes

COLUMBUS — Ohio State co-defensive Jeff Hafley, offensive lineman Branden Bowen, quarterback Justin Fields, and nose tackle Robert Landers met with reporters on Tuesday to discuss this Saturday’s game against Penn State. Hafley answered questions about his defense, Bowen spoke of what his senior season has meant to him, Fields talked being a one-time Nittany Lion commit and why he felt Penn State was right for him at the time, Landers answered questions about what it’s like having Chase Young back. Here are the highlights.

Jeff Hafley

+ You take a ton of pride in how well the defense has played, but these next to games will tell the tale.

+ Big plays and tackling are so key. If you limit big plays and tackle, you’re going to have a really good chance to win.

+ Everybody is excited to get Chase Young back. No concerns about rustiness.

+ “The seniors are everything.” They are the ones who establish the leadership. “Those guys are the most important guys on the team.”

+ Penn State is really well coached. They have a good scheme on offense and they have good players. Sean Clifford can keep plays alive and throw it downfield. They have explosive receivers and the best tight end they’ve seen this year.

+ Shaun Wade needs to forget about the 93-yard touchdown pass last season to KJ Hamler. Hafley will make sure he won’t be thinking about it. You learn from it and move on. Everybody gets beaten for a touchdown. “I haven’t seen the play and I don’t really care to see the play.” Where was his help? “He’ll be ready to play.”

+ It’s not so much what they can do differently with Chase Young, it’s that his presence changes what Penn State will have to do.

+ How to eliminate big plays? Play your scheme. Do what you’ve been coached to do. “I’m not hiding anything from you.” What has gotten them to this point is that they are playing really good fundamentals.

+ They have been moving Cade Stover to defensive end a bit in practice the last couple of weeks. They will continue to take a look at that in order to find the best place for him.

+ When he self-scouted this defense upon his arrival, he saw some very talented players and designed this defense to fit their skillsets. They got the guys to buy in. The most important thing on defense is fundamentals and technique. OSU is one of the best tackling teams in college football. The biggest factor in the success is the players buying in.

+ The touchdown run by Rutgers last week showed the team that if you don’t execute, bad things can happen. There were three guys who could have stopped that from ever happening.

+ “This is the best football team that we have played this season.”

+ The best thing he can say about Jeff Okudah is that he gets better every single day. He is always in Hafley’s office asking questions. “He’s so much fun to coach.”

+ Without Chase Young on the field last week, opponents tried deeper-developing routes. They got the backs out in the flats more.

Branden Bowen

+ Senior Day is going to be emotional. More than he expected. “It’s been a long journey.”

+ “Ohio State is the reason I have my son and the reason I have my fiancé.” It’s heavy. His mother told him not to pass up an opportunity to go to Ohio State. “She pointed me in the right direction.”

+ Outside zone plays are fun for offensive tackles because they have such potential for big plays. The linemen like them because it gives them a chance to be on SportsCenter.

+ This senior season has been a blessing. The offensive line as a group is so fun to be around. “We never fight.” It’s been fun to be with them and develop a sense of brotherhood that he’s never felt before.

+ They are all excited to have Penn State and Michigan coming up.

Justin Fields

+ Fields committed to Penn State because he really liked the offense and the other guys they had in the class.

+ Being at Ohio State, he knows he’s made the right choice finally.

+ Getting hit on a deep ball, you just lay on the ground and wait for the crowd reaction to tell you what happened. The completions feel great.

+ For every game, he will do whatever it takes to win each game. He is always willing to do it.

+ The offensive playbook always has an answer. Ryan Day is a great playcaller. The big thing is to just put your trust in Day and he will lead them on the right path and everything will be okay.

+ “I’m kind of an even-keeled guy.” He will go into this game the same as any other. When talent equates, it comes down to who prepares the best.

+ He didn’t want to make the call to James Franklin that he was decommitting. Based on your relationship with the coaches, it makes it harder to decommit.

+ “I don’t even know what to say to that.” — Fields after hearing about Sean Clifford having death threats. “I don’t know how I’ve avoided it.” People put too much pressure on athletes.

+ He’s not going to play any differently whether it’s early in the game or later in the game. That doesn’t put more pressure on him to play late in the game. The last time he had to drive the field to win a game was his junior year of high school.

+ Chris Olave is a great receiver. It was great to see the deep shots connect and the hard work pay off last week.

+ When you start forcing things, that’s when the turnovers happen. Being smart and taking what the defensive gives you usually ends up better.

Robert Landers

+ It is exciting to be tested by Penn State and to find out where they are as a team. It’s always a tough game against Penn State and takes all four quarters.

+ You don’t want to allow the QB to beat you with his feet. If he can do that, it is tough to be efficient as a defense. The interior defense is going to have to pressure him and keep him off schedule.

+ Defensively they are playing well and they’ve had good performances, but they have yet to be elite this year. There are guys running out of gaps, there have been missed assignments or blown coverages. “It’s just a lot of the little things.”

+ There was no drop off in Chase Young’s leadership even though he wasn’t playing. “He handled it beautifully.”

+ “A lot of guys stepped up to the plate” to pick up where Chase Young left off while he was out.

+ When talent equates, you have to revert back to your training. Guys have worked so hard trying to perfect their respective crafts. They are trying to make practice as hard as possible.

+ It was important for the Landers, Jashon Cornell, and DaVon Hamilton to provide leadership and production in the absence of Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young. “Our room was tested.” Larry Johnson preaches next man up. That standard is throughout the whole room.

+ November is the time for championships, but you can’t look ahead to that. You have to stay focused on the task ahead, day by day. You have to take care of business during the week in practice because if you don’t do that, you won’t have any championships to worry about.

+ Curious to see how PSU schemes Ohio State and to see how OSU’s defense then adjusts to them.

+ It has been a unique journey being part of the 2015 class — a misfit class as labeled by Urban Meyer. Members of the class put themselves in positions that they shouldn’t have been in. They have remained close because they have seen the maturation. “The journey has been a blessing.”

3 Responses

  1. Coach Hafley’s interviews are fun to watch. I can see why his players are doing so well this year. He’s going to make a great head coach some day.

  2. old board asks: who’s the better coach?

    A: IDK, and those who know don’t know either. But…

    principles are better than preferences…. ;-{)}


  3. enjoyed the updates!

    got a rope around my neck and feet completely hobbled so i can wrestle with my anticipation this week… ;-{)}

    but… that’s small potatoes compared to stifling my tongue…now isn’t it? ;-{)} I KNEW you Buckeyes would so luv to hear about MEEEEEE. ;-{)}


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