Offense is Urban Meyer’s baby; there’s little doubting that. But the Ohio State head coach has taken a liking – maybe that’s the wrong word – to defense this spring. When a unit performs as poorly as the Buckeyes’ did the final three games, it leaves the coach no choice.
The overhaul began in earnest following the Orange Bowl. New coaches, new philosophy (and a lot of new players). Larry Johnson’s duties on the line are far less strenuous that what Chris Ash has in store. Ohio State’s line emerged last season as the defense’s top weapon. The secondary? Not so much.
Under Ash, Ohio State will get back to a fast, aggressive scheme. It’s what Meyer’s pined for since he arrived in Columbus more than two years ago.
“I have a vision for our defense,” Meyer told CBS’ Jeremy Fowler. “I made it clear what I’d like to see. I’d like to challenge every throw and run like hell, to have a defense like we played at Florida. I want to see it. I'm more involved than I've ever been.
“What Chris Ash is able to do, we’re overhauling it entirely.”
- The defensive overhaul between Chris Ash and Luke Fickell is “going well” Meyer said the backend of the defensive is being completely reworked.
- The Injury to Vonn Bell set back the defense a little bit. But Meyer is happy with Cam Burrows’ progression.
- Dontre Wilson has assumed the starting H position, which used to belong to Philly Brown. Wilson is now a full-time receiver and no longer meets in the running backs room.
- Devin Smith, Michael Thomas, Corey Smith and Johnnie Dixon were all names Meyer mentioned when asked which wide receivers have caught his eye. That’s the pecking order at the position.
- Jeff Greene needs to “keep pushing,” according to Meyer.
- The wide receiver position needs to be a strength, Meyer added.
- Meyer said the defensive line, wide receivers and tailbacks are the deepest positions on the team.
- Tyvis Powell, Nick Vannett and Pat Elflein were the champions from Saturday’s scrimmage. The defense won.
- There is no battle at the right guard position – Meyer said Elflein has earned the starting job.
- Meyer said Joshua Perry is one of the top five most improved players on the team.
- Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said it’s telling that Cardale Jones is still taking a majority of the reps with the ones. The competition isn’t over, but Herman said he hasn’t done anything to lose hold of the backup spot.
- The offense will have a different flavor this year, Herman said. The power run-game probably won’t be relied upon as much as it was past two years. Offensive line has to continue improving and be a strength.
- Herman said Ezekiel Elliott still plays like a freshman, “which is unfortunate.” But he raved about Corey Smith’s ability at wide receiver, saying he could be Ohio State’s best pass-catching weapon. “He’s a super-talented kid.”
- Both Meyer and Herman were complimentary of Rod Smith for his performance in Tuesday’s practice.
- Cardale Jones had a few nervous moments in Ohio State’s Saturday scrimmage. But Herman brushed it all aside, pointing out it was the most pressure-packed situation Jones has been in at OSU.
- Herman said Dontre Wilson wasn’t capable of playing WR last season at 175 pounds. “He didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”
- Not having Braxton Miller on the field is frustrating, Herman said. But the QB is now being asked to stay engaged, take mental reps and coach up the backups. Herman said Miller has
- The offensive line is a big concern, according to Herman. But he said it’d be a bigger concern if he didn’t believe in Ed Warinner and the group of players vying to replace four starters.
- Herman spoke glowingly of how far ahead the current linemen are compared to two years ago.
- Through six practices, Herman said the center position is a toss-up between Jacoby Boren and Billy Price.