Powell Providing Voice in Secondary

By Kyle Rowland on April 23, 2014 at 1:00p

After spending a season as Kerry Coombs’ proverbial punching bag and denying Michigan as the Wolverines were on the doorstep of an historic upset, it’s safe to say Tyvis Powell has arrived. The underclassmen safety locked down his starting spot in the spring and became a key figure in the secondary’s improvements.

His interception of Devin Gardner is what currently defines him. But Powell’s hoping to change that. He made 48 tackles as a redshirt freshman last season, making him the fifth-leading returning tackler. All those days spent with Coombs in his ear set Powell on a trajectory to be a success story.

The three-star recruit came to Ohio State with expectations for himself and from fans. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Powell possesses size, athleticism and speed that makes him a capable figure in the secondary. He’s also shown the ability to be a run stopper.

In the spring, Powell was paired with new safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash for the first time. Ash is tasked with righting the Buckeyes’ secondary, which was the biggest roadblock in playing for a national championship, not Michigan State. It’s a mostly youthful group, but the talent has given way to confidence.

“I had a lot of improvement from Day 1,” Powell said after the spring game. “I think I had a drastic improvement in my game and in my leadership. That’s basically what it was really about, me becoming a leader. I feel like I was able to go out there and motivate my team.”

Powell has an infectious personality that makes him a popular locker room figure. He oozes confidence but doesn’t go overboard with his swagger. Ohio State’s secondary could have entered the spring with a morose outlook. Instead they embraced a new coach, a new style and a new attitude.

Part of the fresh approach is ridding one’s self of complacency. Despite Powell’s status as a starter, he views the offseason as a period for growth and further establishing himself as a first-team player.

“Nothing is guaranteed. That’s not going to stop me from working hard this offseason,” Powell said. “With people coming in and stuff like that, nothing is guaranteed. All it does is motivate me. I don’t want to let [Urban Meyer] down. I want that to be a true thing.”

The people Powell referenced would be incoming freshmen safeties Erick Smith and Malik Hooker and cornerbacks Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore. They, along with Powell, Vonn Bell, Cam Burrows, Doran Grant, Armani Reeves, Eli Apple and Gareon Conley, are trying to squash the loss of Bradley Roby, Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett and Pitt Brown.

Spring drills and the annual Scarlet and Gray game played host to a more aggressive pass defense. The quarterbacks were unable to get into a rhythm, as the defensive backfield swatted away passes and made running routes difficult. Suddenly, the All-American and all-conference losses didn’t seem so severe.

“I knew we would lose a lot of key players after the season, but after going through spring practice, I’m confident we can go out and compete at the highest level with any team,” Powell said. “We’ve got to get better. But I feel like we’re on our way back to being the Silver Bullets everybody once knew.”

Schematic changes have been the most significant visible difference compared to 2013. Meyer believes the pace is quicker and there’s more aggressiveness. Every member of the secondary would agree. The unit is unwavering in altering its perception.

It’s not a new development. But last season didn’t allow them to get ahead of the curve. Aggression wasn’t an option with cushions given to receivers. Now, they can regain headlines for the right reasons.

Powell wants to be at the forefront, not because he’s camera hungry but because in his third year he believes he can offer guidance to inexperienced players. The grand audition came at the spring game.

“When something needed to be said, I was just out there talking and they took it and ran with it,” Powell said. “It was kind of a natural feeling for me. But I know that at times it was stuff that needed to be said, and I was able to come through and say the right things and go out there and make plays.” 

Powell’s voice doesn’t reach Coombs decibel levels, but his message is heard and received. Come fall, a legion of fans will find out if the secondary heeded coaches advice to improve a dreadful unit. 


Comments Show All Comments

buckeyeradar's picture

Powell is one voice in the new secondary.  We have a lot of young talent who want to prove.  What we will have this year is a very aggressive defense that will make its mark on the field.  The Silver Bullets are back.

I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but I'm one of the most colorful.

+1 HS
cinserious's picture

Lets hope!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

mchaytou21's picture

If the D-line is as good as we are all expecting it to be, the defensive backfield will be able to get away with some mistakes early in the season, and hopefully clean up its play by conference play. I like the sound of a more aggressive and systematically sound scheme for the secondary, and I hope that means we will see less and less of those god awful 8-10 yard cushions we were all so accustomed to seeing. A more aggressive secondary and a relentless d-line should also help to mask, at least for a short while, the inexperience of the linebackers. With all that said, here is to hoping I can be more comfortable this year,than I was last year, when watching the defense on third down situations.

When an intimidator fails to intimidate, he becomes intimidated.

Barnsey69's picture

If I loose 20 lbs. I intend to reward myself with a new OSU jersey...I'm thinking #23 looks good. If only to honor his victory preserving interception at the Outhouse last year, but hopefully his star rises this year and that interception was the beginning of something special for him. He is still #23 right?

Go Bucks!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

+4 HS
B1G 10 Buckeye Stuck in SEC Country's picture

I'd go with 20 to recognize your accomplishment.

Good luck brother....I'm down 8; however, have another 20-30 to go.

" Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." - John Wayne 

+1 HS
Horvath22's picture

I remember seeing Tyvis visiting at a game when he was still in high school. He looked to be at least 6-5 and very slender. I could read his name tag with binoculars, and thought he was a BB recruit; his name was not familiar. Maybe it was his JR year. I would not be surprised if he is taller than the 6-3 he is listed.

Osurrt's picture

That is an interesting point that had crossed my mind when I was reading the article about this 3* recruit. It would be interesting to see how many 3* recruits have gone onto success at tOSU over the past decade. It seems that Ohio kids tend to get undervalue in the * ratings compared to some of the kids down south, Texas and CA.....but they seem to mature and have good college careers.

chirobuck's picture

just going by scout rankings several come to mind immediately, Hawk, Lauranitis, Jenkins, Roby, Gholston, Robiskie, Hankins, Boren.......I feel like I'm forgetting more, but we have a nice history of finding hidden gems


^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
JakeBuckeye's picture

Let's not forget that this is the guy that committed to play for Ohio State the day after Tressel resigned and in the middle of some of the darkest days Ohio State football has ever seen. This guy is tried and true. Perhaps the truest Buckeye in the program.

+10 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Nice look at Tyvis Powell - he will play a huge role in getting this secondary turned around.

Love that pic - especially looking out at the crowd. The dude in the scarlet hoodie looks like he's having fun (what am I saying - I was going apesh!t myself...).


+1 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

If he D-Line is the dominant force for ALL 3 downs, then the unit as a whole should be drastically improved.  If QBs know they have 2-3 seconds before they are getting smashed, the DBs will be in press coverage and eat the opposing WRs alive, because they know that ball has to come out.   


It's hard to not be optimistic about the D, with all of the positives coming out of the Spring.  

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Even though we are replacing a bunch of guys, I think the amount of talent will make up for the experience.  The new scheme will also make it more difficult for opposing offenses.  The future is bright at OSU.

Jpfbuck's picture

I think it is clear now where at least Urban saw the problem being,,,namely Withers.

Withers came in in 2012 and immediately stated we would stop playing man/press D as he thought the pace of the game made that too tough to do,

I have no reason to believe he did not have the same responsibility as Ash has now, ie in charge of the pass D scheme etc

and what were the results?

well in 2011 with 4 new starters a interim HC and tons of distractions (Roby, Barnett and Bryant along with Howard were all new DB starters that year), and under the old staff, we gave up 182 yards per game and ranked 14th nationally in pass yards allowed and 53rd in Pass Eff D

so in comes Withers in 2012, he has all 4 guys back as starters, we move to his system and we jump to 244 yards allowed per game. A 34% increase which drops us to 76th nationally in yards allowed although we improved to 29th in pass eff d

so in 2013 with 3 of the 4 guys back as 3rd year starters the pass d implodes jumping to 268 yards allowed for a 110th national rank and pass eff d fell to 83rd

that is abject failure by any measure

given that he left to take a new job at a lower level for a 33% pay cut I have to believe that Urban said "you may want to take that before I let you go"

given that both Fickell and Coombs were retained and job titles really didn't change for them nor their responsibilities, I think we know where the top guy saw the problem

here is a quote from Luke Fickell about Withers style of play from just before the 2012 season started “It's the ability to play off sometimes in the back end and still allow those guys to have great vision and play on the football.”

"we're not changing to a bump and run, press man, one high defense" from Withers himself

from the same story "One major change for the defense this year is a decision to play the cornerbacks further from the line of scrimmage. The coaches felt Ohio State’s corners were limited in their ability to make plays on the ball last season because they were forced to play so much press coverage."

the warning signs were there, but they couched in language about being more aggressive and trying to create more turn overs by breaking on the ball for INT's etc

instead what we got was no more INT's and tons more yards allowed,

I think Luke was likely being a good soldier and not throwing Withers pass D scheme under the bus in the press and taking the brunt of the criticism for something they may not have bee his fault

I am excited as everyone to see the new changes against a real opponent, noon August 30 cant get here soon enough

+2 HS
whobdis's picture

Looking at the pic..didn't realize the ball was so close to coming out. Now what if he fumbled it and it went in the endzone..THAT may have sucked. It should be ruled an incomplete pass but I wouldn't trust the officials in the 'big house'.


MassiveAttack's picture

Watch the replay on BTN, he secured the ball between his knees and rolled on the ground to make sure he didn't drop it.  If I remember correctly, there were 2-3 dropped INTs in the second half, with at least on coming on this final drive.

The Ohio State University - "Haters love us!"

warriard1002's picture

Let me preface I did not read all this article. I saw Tavis Powell and instantly said to myself huh this is a story about bad angles and looking not to have a clue. One play does not a career make


DBell8's picture

Good thing you can spell and make proper sentences... Tyvis Powell is one of my favorite Buckeyes and is a very intelligent man and player. Look at his twitter if you get a chance, he's always got some interesting things to say that have meaning.

pdan46's picture

I like what Powell had to say, but the proof will be in the secondary's play during the first few games of the season.  Unlike last year, there are no cupcakes.  If we play press coverage, in your face, aggressive defense (and I think that is what Ash wants) the secondary has a chance to be outstanding and deep.  If we play off coverage as we did last year, we will have lots of trouble even before we get to the B1G!

Ghbuck23's picture

Ash is not a press coverage guy.. I think we will be 60 % off & 40% press coverage .. Rolling in & out of each other .. 

But Watching Wisky & Arky secondaries .. They were not in press majority of the time

coombs bears some responsibilty also for the CBs sucking .. It wasn't the off coverage that was the problem, Urban had his CBs play off @ Florida also .. It just wasn't being coached right

Win Baby , Win