COLUMBUS — Defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs as well as wide receiver Chris Olave and linebacker Cody Simon met with the media on Tuesday to preview the matchup against Oregon.
Here is a summary of what was said.
+ On a mixed bag defensively, Coombs said there was a lot of good and a lot of bad. They played a lot of young guys and were physical but they have to leverage the ball better and tackle better. They brought good energy and created turnovers.
+ On the freshman cornerbacks being thrown into the fire, Coombs said on the road in the Big Ten as their first game was challenging. They handled the pressure and the environment well. They will improve as the season goes on.
+ They have to work on tackling in practice because they have to tackle better. But tackling drills are different from tackling in games. They tackled on Monday and will tackle again on Tuesday.
+ On playing depth vs establishing continuity, Coombs said “we are still finding our way and figuring out who the best players and combinations are.” They have to put the best players on the field to help them win the game and that is the focus on Saturday.
+ Coombs never thought he would play a true freshman but Denzel Burke had a really good spring and offseason. He competes. “He had a great camp, a good night Thursday night, and we’re looking forward to more of him in the future.” He expects Burke to be in the rotation and Coombs expected him to play well against Minnesota.
+ On the toughness of the defense, Coombs thinks they are mentally tough and physically tough. It starts with physicality and they have gone through incredible situations that speaks volumes about their mental toughness. “I have no concerns about their mental toughness.”
+ Kourt Williams is very close.
+ On Taron Vincent starting over Haskell Garrett, Coombs said Larry Johnson is 100 percent in charge of that but the length of training camp and the snap count made a difference but Vincent had a great camp and earned that opportunity.
+ Tommy Eichenberg is smart and got them in the right calls. “He is a physical kid for a physical game. He was the right guy for that ball game.”
+ On matching up with Denzel Burke, Olave said that he is a huge fan of Burke. He has seen his growth since he arrived. Burke is always competing, asking questions, and getting extra work. He is not surprised to see him out there. “He is a pro to me.”
+ They got a feel for the offense in the first game even though the time of possession was tilted.
+ C.J. Stroud got more comfortable and was good coming out of halftime. He got his head on his shoulders and started throwing the ball. “We were there to comfort him.” It was tough, it was loud out there. “It was all him though at the end of the day.” He is a freshman, still 19 years old. Olave is proud of him.
+It’s a childhood dream of his to play in this game. He grew up an Oregon fan and wanted to go there when he was younger. Oregon was a powerhouse growing up with Chip Kelly, he remembers watching them with his family. He was bummed about not getting to go to Oregon last year to play.
+ It was nice playing in front of fans and he is excited to play in The Shoe again with 100,000 fans. “It’s going to be fun.” They are all looking forward to it.
+ He practices finishing catches for 10-20 yards. “It definitely showed up last week.”
+ On having that kind of start to his season, Olave said it verified his decision to come back. He wants to win a National Championship. One of the reasons he came back was to get better at yards after catches.
+ On C.J. Stroud’s interception, Olave said they were all lifting each other up. They never lost each other. “It’s going to come.” It did in the second half.
+ On the 2015 National Championship game, Olave said he was young and remembers watching it at home with his family and was an Oregon fan. “But Ohio State came in and put the bang on them.”
+ He wasn’t a big-time recruit until Ohio State offered him late his senior year and then everybody else came after him. Oregon came after him late January but he was already set on Ohio State. But Oregon was his dream school.
+ On C.J. Stroud’s aggressiveness as a thrower Olave said it impresses him and they practiced it a lot. He puts the ball where they need it and he noticed that in the offseason.
+ On the substitutions on defense, Simon said they prepare for anything and they trust the coaches. “It’s just always stay ready.”
+ On his sack, Simon said he just tries to do what he can to help the team win. It was a momentum booster and he was glad he could do that for the team. He just saw it open up and went for it.
+ He tries everyday to uphold the standard that comes with putting on a Buckeye uniform. “It really is an honor to represent Ohio State.”
+ Tommy Eichenberg is an ultimate leader. “Our defense isn’t as good as it is with Tommy.” He tries to stick around him.
+ Simon said putting themselves out there and just playing against another color was great. “Practice is great but just hitting another color… there’s nothing better than that.”
+ On the ferocity of a big-time game, Simon said the adrenaline and intensity was high but they just went as hard as they could every play.