Presser Bullets: Ohio State Wraps Up Spring Practice No. 9

By Eric Seger on April 7, 2015 at 11:59 am

Ohio State entered its second-to-last week of spring practice Tuesday in the friendly confines of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, safe from cloudy skies and rain drops. Urban Meyer was under the weather and therefore couldn't speak to the media following the ninth practice of the spring, so wide receivers coach Zach Smith and cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs took his place.

  • Smith said he feels good about the reps that the younger guys at wide receiver are getting without some starters practicing.

  • "Noah Brown's had about as good a spring as I could have wanted," Smith said. He said Brown looks like a guy who is going to contribute in the fall.

  • Smith said Curtis Samuel can play a lot of different spots and has been in multiple meeting rooms in order to "saturate" his mind with as many positions as possible.

  • On Jalin Marshall, Smith said he's been working on the outside because he wants to have him work against press man-to-man defense in order to further improve.

  • Smith said there is a specialized rehab plan for guys who have injuries, involving pool treadmill work and other various things.

  • Smith said "in an ideal world" Samuel would be able to go in and play running back when Ezekiel Elliott cannot and then seamlessly transition to wide receiver or slot back. He said the bottom line is Ohio State is going to get its best players on the field no matter what.

  • Smith said Marshall can play outside, but where he fits in the six or seven-man rotation of wide receivers is up to him: "If he's the best in the slot, we're not going to put him outside." But the flexibility is what Smith and the receivers are trying to work toward, that way any and all players can play any of the skill positions.

  • Smith said Dontre Wilson could have played by season's end, but he was "one play away" from re-breaking his foot because it didn't heal properly in the middle of the season.

  • On Johnnie Dixon, Smith said the biggest thing is getting him healthy. He's always had the skill set to produce at Ohio State, but getting him back healthy is top priority.

  • Coombs said he doesn't believe there is another team in the country that practices tackling more than Ohio State does.

  • Coombs said Eli Apple's had the best spring practice of any of the cornerbacks: "I think he had a very good season, but I think he's had a much better spring and offseason than he's ever had." Coombs said Apple's leadership and confidence is getting better with every day.

  • As far as the other starting cornerback position, Coombs said Gareon Conley's skill set is constantly improving. He entered spring at a great weight and is building on what he did last season.

  • Coombs also said Damon Webb is getting better. He also hopes that Marshon Lattimore is able to practice at full-go as early as next week following surgery on his hamstring last fall.

  • Can Ohio State still play the same coverages it did last year by the end of the season? "Yes. We better be, because that's what we're coaching."

  • Coombs said tackling has been addressed every day possible at Ohio State. Live tackling and individual one-on-one tackling is what Coombs said specifically that the program does more than any other in the country.

  • Coombs also said Ohio State's switch to rugby style tackling was a "game-changer" for the Buckeye defense last season.

  • As far as the wide receivers go, Coombs called Mike Thomas an "superior player." Everything from his size, speed and hands has impressed him, that is before he suffered the hernia injury this spring.

  • Coombs also singled out Noah Brown and Jalin Marshall as having great spring practices. All the wide receivers are helping the corners get better, Coombs said.

  • On going back to Cincinnati for the Reds' Opening Night Wednesday, Coombs said he can't wait because he's from the Queen City and grew up a Reds fan: "I can still recite to you the full lineup of the Big Red Machine."

  • Coombs said he feels all the laurels and celebrations of victories from the national title season only helps motivate the team more: "They want to get back. Because the taste of that is a whole lot better than not."

  • Does Coombs sense complacency around the program? "Not right now. What we do here is we grind. I don't sense that at all. I sense guys wanting to be really, really good."

  • Back on Conley, Coombs said he's challenged him to be the starter at the other corner opposite of Apple. Coombs said he wants to see how he responds to other teams noticing he was the weaker of the three guys who played last season: “We live in a big boy world out there in press quarters."

  • Coombs said Cardale Jones has "the strongest arm in college football." He complimented Jones' growth in maturity and taking command of the huddle. Jones also threw a 35-yard out route "on a rope," he said. Coombs called going against great quarterbacks only makes the cornerbacks better.

  • Of the five incoming defensive backs, Coombs said he and the rest of the staff expect them to come in and be ready to compete for starting positions. He's excited for the competition this fall camp.

  • Marshon Lattimore is doing as much work as he can even though he isn't at full speed yet, whether it be mental work in the film room or walking through the drills. Coombs said he thinks Lattimore is going to be a "dynamic player ... expect him to play."

  • Coombs said the entire secondary as a whole is feeling confident with the way they're playing right now as an entire unit: "It makes playing fun."

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