Thursday Skull Session: Schiano's Defense, Ash Recruiting Against Ohio State, and a Pre-Fiesta Boost for the Irish

By D.J. Byrnes on December 17, 2015 at 4:59 am
K.J. Hill: A future boss.

Does anybody care if I hit the "fast forward" button until we're all hungover watching the Fiesta Bowl? I didn't think so. The Year of Yoshi is our year.

ICYMI: The Basketbucks needed an ugly win over Northern Illinois, but they don't care.

 HERE COMES THAT SCHIANO D. It's funny how football coaches go from bad to good depending on their job title.

A horrendous head coach coming off a firing turns into must-have coordinator with alacrity that would make Cinderella shake her head in disbelief. Such is the prospect of Greg Schiano as Ohio State defensive coordinator.

Some Buckeye fans are leery of Schiano because his last head coaching reign ended as well as a disposed dictator's. 

I spin it like this: The NFL is a different rodeo than college football. That iron-fist stuff works in college, where players aren't paid with real money and they don't have a seat at the collective bargaining table.

Chip Kelly, like Greg Schiano before him, is an example of a college coach failing to adapt to that adjustment. Now that Schiano took a sabbatical and reflected, I'm hoping he applies that lessons at Ohio State.

But what can we expect?


The Buckeyes will continue to be a 4-3 defense on Schiano’s watch. He’s used a 4-3 for as long as he’s been in charge of defenses – including two years as the University of Miami’s defensive coordinator (1999-2000), 11 years as Rutgers’ head coach (2001-2011) and two years as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach (2012-13). Schiano prefers to use zone coverage and he mixes up his zones frequently between cover-2, cover-3 and quarters coverage. He will add in some man coverage, but he's not a coach that is going to put his corners on an island one-on-one throughout the game.

Schiano will be fine as long as he doesn't bring back the defense that features DBs that can't tackle and  play 20 feet off their receiver.

From in 2012:

Greg Schiano believes players don't learn in sentences, but in soundbites. By this he means one simple thing: when a player makes a mistake, he wants that player to simply repeat a simple mantra instead of going through an extensive thought process. Football is best played fast, instinctive, and with relatively little conscious thought. For instance, after a player drops an interception, Schiano wants him saying to himself "Thumbs, thumbs, thumbs" instead of "Don't drop it next time". If a player misses a tackle, the mantra should be "Wrap and roll". That doesn't make sense now, but it will after you've read the rest of the story.

Another part of Schiano's philosophy in teaching players: everything comes in threes. Why? Because it's very hard to focus on more than three things at a time, unless you're a genius. At least, that's Schiano's philosophy when it comes to these things.

Genius, you say? Perhaps Schiano's defense could be revolutionized if he recruited players from MENSA, the organization for geniuses.

 CHRIS ASH'S TWO HATS. Tom Herman staying on board until the end of Ohio State's playoff run made sense. It was the playoffs and Herman was leaving for an American Athletic Conference school.

But Ohio State isn't playing for a title this time around, and Chris Ash is taking over a school within the same division. The results are predictable. 


"My focus has gotten smaller," said [four-star athlete Jordan] Fuller. "They change every day, pretty much. It's tough. But we're discussing between Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Michigan and Rutgers."

Ash has made Fuller a priority target down the stretch. But contrary to speculation suggesting Fuller is being recruited at quarterback, Ash covets him on the defensive side of the ball, Fuller says.

"I just got off the phone with him, actually," Fuller said Monday night. "Really, he was just checking in and seeing how I was doing and letting me know how much they want me. And he told me he's getting his defensive staff together. So once that happens, they are going to come visit me and talk to me about what's next."

"Hey, Jordan, it's me, Ohio State's defensive coordinator, and I'm here to tell you why you shouldn't go to Ohio State..."

I remain perplexed at this charade. Given the stakes, I'd have tilted my cap to Ash and let him walk out the door. He belongs to The Other Side now.

 IRISH GET BOOSTER SHOTS. If Notre Dame is to beat Ohio State, it will need all the help it can get in the trenches. It got a boost on both sides of the ball on Wednesday.

From the Associated Press:

Nose guard Jarron Jones and tight end Durham Smythe, who were both expected to be starters before knee injuries, have begun practicing with the goal of playing when the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish (10-2) face No. 7 Ohio State (11-1) on Jan. 1. Both suffered medial collateral ligament tears in their right knees that originally were described as season-ending.

“Both those guys will help us against Ohio State,” coach Brian Kelly said.

Jones, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound senior, was injured in practice on Aug. 14. He tied for seventh on the team last season in tackles with 40, but Kelly said what the Irish missed most with Jones out was a disruptive force inside that would have helped everyone else on the defensive line.

Football units are like Tetris; magic happens when the blocks are in the right places. Still, Jones will be up against it; tackling Ezekiel Elliott for four quarters is already hard enough.

 THOMPSON OFFICIALLY LANDS IN BLOOMINGTON. Jayme Thompson will attempt to follow Jeremy Cash as a Buckeye safety that left Columbus to realize his full potential.


Back in July, Jayme Thompson announced that he would be continuing his collegiate playing career at Indiana.  Five months later, that move has officially come to fruition.

In a press release, IU announced that Thompson is one of two JUCO recruits who are now officially Hoosiers after signing National Letters of Intents.  The other is quarterbackRichard Lagow.

“We were limited to two mid-year spots in this recruiting cycle, and signing Richard and Jayme is a great opportunity for them and for our program,” head coach Kevin Wilsonsaid in a statement. “They will get a chance to practice prior to our bowl trip and will be here on January 1. We are excited to get to work with them and pleased to welcome them to IU.”

Best of luck to Thompson, even against Ohio State. (Warren G. Harding knows the Hoosiers need as much luck as they can get against the Buckeyes. Warren G. Harding also knows the Hoosiers will lose no matter how much luck they get.)

 JACKED UP. Folks, be sure to lift some breakfast Lokos in honor of Brian Mason, a defensive graduate assistant that was sent to the glue factory on Monday:

He thought he was ready.... he wasn't.

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