Skull Session: Justin Fields Takes Some Sacks, Jeff Hafley Changed Jeff Okudah's Career, and Personal Tragedy Shapes Tom Ryan's Life

By Kevin Harrish on October 2, 2019 at 4:59 am
Shaun Wade is wearing black in today's skull session.

I hope you all enter this fine Wednesday with levels of confidence at least approaching Justin Fields.

That sounds like a guy who's about to hang 50 on a particular green team to the north, and only take a half to do it.

Word of the Day: Bloviate.

 TOO MANY SACKS? Of all the areas for Justin Fields to struggle – and I use the word "struggle" very loosely – I must humbly admit that I in no way expected it to be "takes too many sacks" as we move from a guy who runs like C-3PO to a fellow with running back legs who runs a 4.4 second 40.

Alas, here we are.

From Nathan Baird of

... one statistic that deviates from the rest of the offensive performance is sacks. Fields took three more against Nebraska. Ohio State quarterbacks have been sacked 10 times in five games, with Fields taken down on all but one of them. That 2.0-per-game average puts the Buckeyes in the lower half of the Big Ten Conference. (For context, the Buckeyes rank fourth in passing attempts, but have only six more attempts than Iowa, which ranks 10th.)

“Some were reasonable, but some I should have thrown the ball away,” Fields said. "I have to get a better feel of throwing the ball away and when to try and make a play. As I continue to do that I think that will just make me a better quarterback overall.

“Some of the sacks this year, they were really on me. I should have just thrown the ball away and moved on to the next play. I just have to work on that and get better at this aspect of the game.”

I'm not gonna lie, it's frustrating, but also, we're almost halfway through the regular season and he still hasn't thrown an interception, so I think he's earned a little leeway.

 JUST A COUPLE OF JEFFS. The strength of Ohio State's secondary lies with a pair of Jeffs, and it seems one Jeff has helped make the other Jeff extremely good at football.

From Mitch Stacy of the Associated Press:

"He's gotten with Jeff Hafley and our defensive scheme, and it seems to be a good fit right now," Day said Tuesday. "They're off to a great start. Any time you come in with another year experience, another year in the program, I think that really matters. I think it's a combination — he's a year older and he's really embraced the style of defense."

Hafley believes Okudah, a former five-star recruit, has improved with experience and has learned to practice harder and prepare better for the No. 4 Buckeyes.

"He's spending a lot of time listening to the 'why,'" Hafley said. "Like he's starting to understand why certain (pass) routes are coming. So I think he's seeing the game a little bit different, and that slows it down for him. Mentally, I think he's becoming a better football player."

Okudah gives due credit to Hafley, who came to work for Day after the two coached together on the staff of the San Francisco 49ers.

"He's someone who changed my whole career," Okudah said.

I echo that, Okudah. Hafley hasn't even been here eight months and I've never actually met him in person, but it's less hyperbolic than it should be to say he changed my entire life as well. Since Hafley's arrival, ya boy hasn't even once had to blog about some three-star running back clowning Ohio State's secondary like he's Cody Paul #5 in his Pop Warner days.

 TRAGEDY MADE TOM RYAN. I've always had massive amounts of respect for Tom Ryan and the way he treats his players like he genuinely loves them, but I had no idea that the love he shows comes in part from a tragedy that helped shape almost everything about him as a person.

In 2004, Ryan suddenly lost his five-year-old son, Teague, to a heart attack. That event and everything that came after made him who he is today.

From Andy Anders of The Lantern:

Jake Ryan said the experience gave him a perspective that many people don’t have. Any complaint he could make in the 15 years since pales in comparison to what he and his family went through.

Tom Ryan carried that perspective with him into his coaching career at Ohio State. He said it taught him how to coach with more humility and gratitude and realize that his job is bigger than winning championships: It’s about helping people become the best version of themselves.

It also taught him how to love harder. Senior 197-pound wrestler Kollin Moore said he sees this love expressed through Tom Ryan’s selflessness. If Moore called him at 5 a.m. for a workout, he’d be there, the team captain said.

“He understands the shortness of life, so he might be a little more understanding of certain things people do,” Moore said. “Maybe if he knows we need an off day to go enjoy ourselves or something like that. You can definitely tell there’s a deeper love for what he does and a deeper love for those around him, just because he’s experienced that tragedy.”

I cannot begin to fathom what that must have felt like, and sincerely hope I never learn, but I cannot imagine someone responding to it better than Tom Ryan did. Continued prayers to that whole family.

 LEADERS AND THE BEST. Folks, the situation is so dire up north that they don't even want to talk standardized testing scores anymore, which is quite literally off of our Threat Level charts.

I'm sure they just don't want to embarrass everyone else in college football with their extreme selectivity and .the notoriously rigorous course load of their football players.

General Studies

 STAY FROSTY, MICKEY D's EATERS. If I could read the oral history of any campus establishment, I'd choose the fables of the UDF on 12th and High, because I know that building has seen some shit.

However, the campus McDonald's has just shot up the rankings because today I learned on a given day, the odds you'll witness a 911 call are better than a coin flip.

From Cori Wade of The Lantern:

Columbus Police received 992 calls in the past five years at Ohio State’s neighborhood McDonald’s, located at 1972 N. High St., according to records obtained by The Lantern. The calls regarded crimes that include minor disturbances, trespassing, thefts, 14 assaults and two robberies. 

That’s more than three times the number of calls reported in the same time period at three other nearby businesses that are also open 24/7 and sell food. 

“That is a highly unusual large amount of calls for service to any address,” Sgt. James Fuqua, of the Public Information Office at Columbus Police Department, said. 

Let it be known that if there was an Arby's on campus, it would double this number. And at least 10 percent of the calls would have been on me.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. 343 Industries hires a pug to make alien noises for the new Halo game... Columbus City schools are canceled again due to excessive heat in October... A man who was gored by bison sees his date undergo same fate months later at the same park... Meet the Thai UFO group convinced that aliens will save us from armageddon... A vendor is arrested after charging a fan $724 for two beers at a Dolphins game...

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