Ahead of Saturday when Ohio State hosts Tulane at Ohio Stadium, has anything changed for the No. 4 Buckeyes (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) as head coach Urban Meyer returns to the sideline and leads the team into its 3:30 p.m. kickoff on Big Ten Network?
After practice Wednesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano shared the latest as OSU hits its final few days of preparation for the Green Wave (1-2).
On transitioning from acting head coach…
“It’s one less thing to worry about, but the job of coaching the quarterbacks with (offensive coordinator/tight ends coach) Kevin (Wilson) and the rest of the guys on our offense — it’s still a major task, it takes a lot of work and we’re getting ready to work early in the morning and leave late at night and never stop quite thinking about our jobs. So it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re doing the best we can for these kids. So it’ll be the same this week.”
On sticking to the sideline instead of returning to the booth…
“There’s been a comfort level there for the quarterbacks and myself calling it, being down on the field in between series, communicating. I do think that now, this week, we’ll be able to down on the bench with guys on offense, with the quarterbacks and kind of discuss what happened throughout the last series and make some in-game adjustments there on the bench where maybe the last couple of weeks I wasn’t able to do that because I was kind of watching the defense and watching the special teams and making sure I was ready for that.”
On running sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins…
“Anytime the quarterback can pull the ball, he’s the extra guy in the run game down there. It does create 1-on-1 opportunities for the receivers. We had an opportunity early to kind of hit on one. We didn’t connect on it, but we’ve got to be able to win those 1-on-1 matchups down there (in the red zone).”
On correcting big-play gains given up…
“I made sure they understood that we can’t give up those plays. That’s all of us. It isn’t the players or the coaches. It’s all of us. In three games, we’ve given up three gigantic runs and a couple big passes. Can’t do that.
“Different guys (on those big plays). Two of the three runs are a similar problem, though. A couple of things — the cause at the point of attack is different in both of them. But when you play with a deep safety, you we need to be able to get (the ball carrier) on the ground. Now, the other things is they are two of the really, really fast running backs and they may have run through our angle — because we have fast safeties, we probably just need to keep working on our angles.
“I always liken secondary players’ angles to the ball carrier like when you’re a new driver. You know, you have to drive and everything is so mechanical. And as you drive more and more, you get more and more comfortable. I think that’s how our safeties would get. When (junior safety) Jordan (Fuller) is back there, it’s different than the young guys.”
On stepping up along the defensive line without junior defensive end Nick Bosa…
“They understand and Coach (Larry) Johnson makes it very clear what kind of production we need out of our defensive line. So the fortunate thing is we have good players in addition to Nick, but Nick’s special.
“I think what it might lead to is more playing time for (sophomore defensive end) Chase (Young). We’ve got rotations going … but Coach J always has a way of lining somebody in there and they rise to the occasion. So his repetitions may go up a little bit, but I think some of the young guys will step up.”
On assessing the linebackers so far…
“I think the linebackers have played pretty well, actually. The one long run (TCU’s 93-yard touchdown), that’s something we were kind of cheating a little bit on and they did something they hadn’t done. In a lot of games we broke down, they never did it. So sometimes when you cheat, you get (hit).
“The linebackers, I think, were not perfect by any means. But I think (are) really playing much more assignment-sound football than we were even in training camp. I think they’re getting better and better. And then (at middle linebacker) having (sophomore) Tuf (Borland) in there for a bunch of plays was nice and (sophomore) Baron (Browning) played well, so that was good.”