Feb. 5, 2014
Head Coach Urban Meyer Press Conference Transcript
COACH MEYER: It's been a significant developments or several developments. Not that significant. Several developments as far as our program first we had a little staff transition. I think this is the first time I've had a chance because we've been on the road. We lost two coaches. Everett and Mike Vrabel. We replaced him with Larry Johnson and Chris Ash, but a couple of comments with those gentlemen we hired. First they wanted to be here, they both had very, very good jobs and they wanted to be here. Larry, obviously. Mike Vrabel is an opportunity to say Mike did an excellent job for us, excellent recruiter. Hurts me that he left. But I know it was all positive. But he's a Buckeye and really did a great job for us recruiting. A dynamic personality, and that went into, when I was putting together to replace him, you can't lose a dynamic person, personality, energy guy and not replace him where you're just not going to have that in your program. And so we hired Larry Johnson. Larry Johnson is a guy I had great respect for many years. Made a phone call two years ago when I was hired here in December whatever year that was, I called Larry. We discussed Ohio State. But then I made the decision to hire Mike Vrabel. We just didn't have a spot. Noah Spence's dad called and said Larry would like to talk to you about a position. This is right after Mike took this position. And the communication was great. We went and met in Indianapolis at the convention and it was a no brainer on our end, and Gene Smith approved as well.
So he's been everything that I thought he would be, spending time with him on the road and had an impact as far as recruiting already. And then Chris Ash is charged with he's got a serious responsibility. That's to improve our pass defense. He'll be in charge of the entire back end of our defense.
He's going to coach safety. He's going to continue to coach corners. However we're going to have one voice back there, it's his responsibility to improve our pass defense.
And obviously it's more than just a secondary. It's linebackers and everything. But you're going to see some significant changes in the way we approach our business back there.
I'm going to be more involved than I ever have been, just to make sure that we get up to standard at Ohio State on defense's side of the ball with emphasis in pass defense.
Player transition. We just had a group of seniors depart Ohio State that came from losing seven games two years ago to winning 24 straight. Obviously a couple bumps at the end but a group of players I have a lot of respect for. I love those guys. Those guys came in and they let us attack their hearts and let us coach them. And they're gone.
So whenever you lose a good group of players you have to replace them. And I like our last year's recruiting class, and I really like this year's as well. We signed 23 players. Emphasis is on linebacker. Going to give you a quick analysis of our roster and where I think the strengths, there are some obvious strengths and weaknesses but the linebacker position is one that's we're going through an overall right now.
That's far too many mistakes have been made in either lack of development or whatever and it's just not where we need to be. So there's four linebackers been recruited Raekwon McMillan, Sam Hubbard, Kyle Berger and Dante Booker. Four guys I'm putting pressure on them Coach Fickell and myself to get ready for next year. They have to play for us, in addition to the players we have on our roster already.
So just so everybody knows, there's no redshirt plans for those players at all. We thought about that during the recruiting process.
We want mature players. One thing that's common about all four of those guys they're from very good high school programs. State champion down in, back to back state champion down in Muller. And have a state champion at Saint Vincent Saint Mary and Raekwon comes from a great high school program down in Georgia. He's on campus right now. Defensive back field is another area we're going through an overhaul right now and that's how do you do that.
You do that with the way we teach, with the way we do things back there but also with some personnel. And very pleased with our recruiting of defensive backs. Damon Webb is a guy once again, unless something happens, they're playing. There's no redshirt for these players I'm getting ready to discuss.
Damon Webb, I anticipate he'll be in the depth next year. And Marshon Lattimore from Glennville is going to be in the mix as well. And Erick Smith, he's a guy I'm really excited to get here. Played corner in the all star game but we plan on putting him at safety. And once again immediately in the depth.
Malik Hooker is a guy who only played two years of football. I watched him play basketball and he certainly has the athleticism and size. It's just experience. So he might take a little bit longer, but that's an area obviously that we need to improve. That's the defensive backfield.
Offensive line is an area that performed very well for us a year ago but four players have left. And we plan on moving Taylor Decker to left tackle, and right now Darryl Baldwin is penciled in at right tackle and we signed five offensive linemen. Of the five, the two that I see the maturity, Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox, are guys that I would like to see. Typically you don't put freshmen in there early, but these guys got mature bodies, and they're fairly mature young men and you have Marcelys Jones and Kyle Trout and Brady Taylor a guy from Columbus, impressive guy. Kind of a late comer, he's up to 295 pounds now and a wonderful family, tough guy. I love the guy. I'm really excited he might be a guy that gets in, sneaks in the depth fairly quickly as well.
So I'll answer any questions for you.
Q. Urban, two questions. One, the Darius Slay thing came out of nowhere, can you kind of explain how that happened?
COACH MEYER: Darius Slay I didn't know much about him or who he was. That's Larry Johnson contact from I guess they've known each other for years and years. Jared Odrick who Larry Johnson coached at Penn State, there's a nephew or something. I think Larry would be a good guy to talk to. I watched film on him. Do we want to take this kid, I'm thinking, sure, I really don't know much about him. That's a Larry Johnsonism.
Q. We know Chris Ash is in charge of the secondary co defensive coordinator who has the ultimate final say in defensive calls and how does that work?
COACH MEYER: We're going to have those conversations. Right now Luke will. Who has the ultimate say on how do I say this? On offense some people would say you need one coordinator. There's certainly one way to go about it. Who has the alternate say on offense. If someone said Tom Herman I might raise my hand and say I'm not quite sure that's correct at certain times. So Ed Warner at times does. I do. Once again, some people might disagree with that. So Luke Fickell's the defensive coordinator, co coordinator when there's third down or some type of pass I want a real strong back end presence and that's what we've got.
Q. What are your three keys philosophically to improving when you have your coaches, when you send them out, not so much what you're looking for but how to secure guys, what do you say to guys?
COACH MEYER: It's like how we approach our business here. You're going to hear this it's not like Shelley is always funny, coaches say the same thing, blah, blah, blah is what she says, but it's relationships, and it is. Zach Smith was a guy that did just okay his first year here. Really the first year and a half. He knocked it out of the park this year. He signed Jalyn Holmes and Johnnie Dixon, and he beat a bunch of high profile schools in different regions. And that was simply for one reason.
The number one reason is the Ohio State brand. The brand is so strong. The number two reason is our relationship. And I see that when I walk in Jalyn Holmes's house and he's on that Facebook or Facetime, whatever that is, he's sitting there talking to Zach Smith's son, I think four year old son, five year old kid for five or ten minutes, I knew we were in pretty good shape, if he has a great relationship with Zach's son. So I usually can walk in because I'm kind of the closer. There they set the ground work. I know where we're headed when I walk in that home. And the number one thing without question is relationships being built.
Q. Follow up real quick. I talked to some BG guys
COACH MEYER: BG?
Q. From 2002, Bowling Green, your first class, how has it evolved from you as far as closing, the whole process?
COACH MEYER: I think it's probably pretty much the same. I'd be interested to talk to those guys as well. It's pretty much the same. Want me to go after them? We're really honest with them. I made a comment just a minute ago in an interview that some people don't like kids to go on visits. I think kids should go on visits.
Jamarco Jones went on a visit at the 11th hour. I don't know if I appreciate that. I would much rather him go on a visit in July or September. But I will never tell a kid you can't visit. I'd rather them not. And even with Jamarco, I never said you shouldn't do that. He very simply said I want to make sure.
After being on the parent side of two recruiting battles, if someone ever told my kid you can't go visit, that would be not a pleasant conversation, because those kids deserve to go wherever they want to go to school. And so that's I think you asked about the approach. It's a very honest, open approach, come in, see everything we've got. This is the way we do our business. It's not for everybody. And if you want to be a part of it we'd love to have you.
Q. What are your thoughts on the scholarship reductions being behind you, how much of a limitation was that. Seemed to treat it very well.
COACH MEYER: We didn't get through it very well. We would have had more safeties. We would have had not special teams issues that we've had over the years. So nine scholarships was a tough deal. You start doing that with the multiplicity of injuries you deal with. We had 13 season ending injuries. So we're anxious to move forward.
Q. I think you guys have might be like two overcome August, how do you plan to be within the framework
COACH MEYER: It's not two. It's just something we've got to manage the roster right now and who is coming back for the fifth year, those type of things. And we're dealing with some injury issues right now as well.
Q. Did you hear anything on Christian Bryant at all?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he's not coming back. Appeal was just recently the second appeal we appealed it twice. That's one that I was hoping he'd come back.
Q. What does it mean to you to have a highly ranked class? Obviously you've had three in a row. Two in the top two or three looks like, when it all figures out. Why is that important to you?
COACH MEYER: Well, I mean, I hear people say it's not important. I disagree. I think it's very as long as you're keeping score we're going to try to win. I'm disappointing we weren't the number one recruiting class in the country. Our staff knows we're disappointed about that. Is that the final end all. No, it has really no as long as they're going to go keep track of it. And there is a correlation between how teams do where your team is ranked, recruiting class is ranked. But certainly that's not the final product because you've got to coach and develop them and get them here. So actually we do pay attention to that. It's not saying we take a kid who is a five star over a three star, if we believe in the three star. That's not it at all. But I'll start watching it at the end of the recruiting class.
Q. Looks like you literally are going to lean on this class. I mean, last year you talked about some guys you thought could come in and play. Some of them didn't pan out. I don't know how much of a gamble is it, or do you feel like you're gambling a little bit with this class a little bit from that standpoint?
COACH MEYER: No, we wanted to do it last year. We didn't Gareon Conley should have played last year. That's Gareon's fault and our fault, position coach fault, if we're going to sit here and blame, which I'm not blaming. But we're counting on these guys to go play. What you don't want to do, and I gotta really watch how I present this to our staff. I don't want to have a young man come in and play 12 snaps and lose a year. If we're going to play him, play him but you have to get him ready to go. And the young man has to attack it as if to go get ready. Joey boast is a perfect example came in day one. We know that.
Q. These guys have played competition tells you they can step up.
COACH MEYER: Last year we did. Pretty good. That young man, we should have had them ready and has the ability level. I'm not picking on Gareon because Gareon is going to be a fine player. Doing fantastic for you. So we were, if it's the way it turns out, we'll redshirt a very minimal amount of this class.
Q. Last year this time you seemed disappointed with the class you put together on the offensive line, only one showed up, lose the four seniors, did you have to double down your emphasis on getting guys up front for this class?
COACH MEYER: Who did we sign last year, Billy Price. Gardner didn't make it. Who was the other one? Evan Lisle. Last year was a disappointment in the offensive line. We moved Billy over. He's going to play on offense, and he is going to I think he'll if not start be right in the depths, Evan Lisle is coming on as well. Kyle Dotson, time to show up and start playing. And Taylor Decker obviously he's starting for us, and we signed five this year so they have to perform. I'd say two of the five have to be in the depth. And we recruited as such.
Q. Would this be about the amount that you would normally recruit or was that influenced by last year?
COACH MEYER: You want 16. You want 16 linemen in your program. And so obviously when we moved Billy Price over, then we only needed five to fill. I think we're at 16 now.
Q. Similar to Tim's question, how can you quantify what happened to them? You look at your staff say won some games today, how much is recruiting, how much is development?
COACH MEYER: 50/50. That's a great question. I think we won today. I made it clear to our guys, very pleased with their efforts today. That was a good class. I think once again I think it's a great class. Jamarco Jones, that would have been that would have been a fake smile in here today if we didn't get him.
Q. Is this the best class you have recruited?
COACH MEYER: I don't know. We'll see. I think it very well could be. Best class here? Oh, yeah. I think so. I think so. We'll see. Who knows.
Q. Mentioned a couple times on the radio show today earlier one of you guys had a winning program in high school and the tangibles they bring can you expand on that, what exactly do you look at?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I'm going to do a study. We just don't have much time. But the correlation between a young guy playing early and a guy that comes from a championship level program, that means he understands weightlifting and fundamentals of football and winning and the price it takes to go win a game and win a championship. Those guys usually play early. And you look at Kyle Berger, Ignatius and Dante Booker and Saint Vincent Saint Mary and Raekwon and Hubbard, those are the guys you look for.
Q. You always talk about wanting to have speed in this class. Where does that come from and are you feeling pretty good?
COACH MEYER: We're getting close. Curtis Samuel is already on campus. Right now we've Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson are those prototype guys, hybrid type players we're looking for. Although really Ezekiel is more a pure tailback but Curtis Samuel guy, he's electric fast, to go with Dontre. So we need a couple more. Parris Campbell, should be one of the fastest guys in state of Ohio. 10.5100 meter guy. And we also have to get our speed up but overall offensive skill but we have from where it was two years ago to where it is now much different.
Q. I want to ask, ever have anything where a coach go through what Tom Herman did?
COACH MEYER: Tom Herman, that really didn't happen. (Laughter) it was only a four hour delay. But Tom likes to blow things up. And it's a fish tale and gets bigger and bigger. No, it was 19 hours. I told him he'll tell the story. Is he going to be able to talk to them? You can let him. He got I get a phone call in the morning. And Mark Dantoni, our recruiting guy, is nervous. I can't get ahold of Gene Smith should he leave the car, what if he leaves the car. I said what are you talking about, 19 hours without food or water he's very delirious right now. I said Tom's always delirious. I called him up and said get a G2. Get a G2 which is a Gatorade and one of those protein bars and get to work, we have to go close Demetrius Knox in Dallas. That's what he did. Obviously I'm being funny, but I've never had a guy go through that. 19 hours in a car stuck in traffic.
Q. Coach, going back to the last two quarterbacks Braxton and Terrell, highly rated guys in the recruiting process. Steven was kind of a guy you hand picked you analyzed himself at camps. What did you see with him that made you confident in making him a quarterback in this class and what is it about him that (indiscernible)?
COACH MEYER: He's a development guy a little bit. He's a guy that came in. Incredible character guy. Great size. He's here on campus already. Very nice release. He's gotta grow into the position. He's not like you said the Terrell or the Braxton. But Alex Smith wasn't either. So we saw a lot of attributes to him we thought could turn into a very good player for us, that's why we took him.
Q. Nice to get them into camp and just watch them and see?
COACH MEYER: You have to at quarterback. And a couple of kids even in state would come it's almost like a rule. We need to see you throw a football to take you. And nowadays kids are committing so early, sometimes you don't get that opportunity. So we've had to adjust our philosophy a little bit, because that was a rule. I remember when we recruited Tim Tebow at Florida. Are you going to offer him? Yeah, we're going to offer him but I need to see you at camp. I'm not coming to camp, I'm not going to offer you. You get in those kind of conversations. Recruiting has moved up so far now. Sometimes we're going to have to adjust, because we're offering quarterbacks now that I don't see throw, and I've never done that before in our career. But you have to, because early offers are out. There's already kids offered right now for next year, which at that position you'd like to have them on camp, in camp.
Q. You talk about the principle of alignment. You introduced two new coaches today. How much of that has to be pleasant at the start and how much is that something you work on?
COACH MEYER: I think you said alignment? That's a great question. (Lost audio) . And the good thing is they came from programs that are very similar the way we do it. They follow the rules, they do the things the right way. Premium placed on academics and we call power of the unit. And that's kind of the way they were raised in the coaching profession.
Q. Does that principle apply to players as well, and if so how do you ensure that
COACH MEYER: You can't ensure that. They're 18 years old. You're relying on high school coach's recommendations and to answer your question certainly it is expected in recruiting as well. It's much more difficult just who you're dealing with.
Q. You talked about wanting to win on a day like this. You guys just played Michigan State on the field, the big time title game. Is it magnified at all when you're competing with teams like that for guys, obviously Jamarco and Darius Slay, all the guys, does that magnify the competition?
COACH MEYER: I think the school you just mentioned, they're real, and I think they've always been real. But I think they're more nose to nose with them quite often in recruiting, if that's your question. I've got a lot of respect for the way they do their business and that's an adversary. That's one of our teams we're nose to nose with right now in recruiting. We don't win them all because I know we lost a couple, too. But that's a real battle right now.
Q. You talked about the changes you're making on defense, with having two new coaches in, you had two coaches leave, did you think you needed new voices, that you needed to make those changes?
COACH MEYER: I think so. I think so. I have a lot of confidence in the coaches that were here. And obviously we didn't perform up to standard. We won a lot of games but there were some holes. Holes very easy to blame players or blame coaches. Just overall we need to freshen up our defense. That's what's going to get ready to take place over the next few months.
Q. We haven't talked about Braxton at all. Were you ever worried that, did you ever think it was a possibility that he would leave for the NFL?
COACH MEYER: Sure.
Q. What was the discussion like when he decided to come back for his senior year?
COACH MEYER: It wasn't very long. And his father, who is doing much better health issues he was dealing with, but Braxton and I have a very good relationship. And we waited until after the game. And I told him my opinion that he could become a very high Draft pick if he continues to improve, and he said that's what I thought. It wasn't much more than that. We met together as a family. Had a very positive conversation and made the decision. Never at one time do you say what should I do, because I wouldn't tell him. That's their business. But I gave my opinion as far as how much more he could grow as a quarterback.
Running Backs Coach Stan Drayton Press Conference Transcript
Q. Doesn't seem like there's many toys for you to play with this last year. Is that fair?
COACH DRAYTON: Oh, yeah.
Q. On the offensive line and elsewhere?
COACH DRAYTON: Well, our toys are very useless until we take care of that front, the front five guys we played behind. So we've got a very dynamic player in Curtis Samuel. He's of that trick. He brings speed you mentioned to our backfield that I don't believe we've had since I've been here, just that type of speed. Ezekiel Elliott kind of walked through the door with that component, since he's been here he's already gained 20 pounds. So his role has shifted to being more of that pure tailback and as you guys know we love to have that, the hybrid component come out of two positions, both the receiver position and the running back position. Jordan Hall kind of filled that role a little bit for us last year. And now we're, based upon Curtis Samuel's maturity how he picks up on things we're hoping he can fill that void for us.
Q. Stan, you were one of the shock trips who went up and met with Jamarco Jones before he made his final visit to Michigan State. What was your take on that whole situation, do you think he was leaning leaving or what was your take on it? COACH DRAYTON: My gut feeling was I always thought he was a Buckeye. I really did. You walked through the school you see this big old scarlet and gray hat on. You meet his mom. You meet his grandpa. And they're talking nothing but about the Buckeyes. But the paranoid side of us, we've been cut in this thing now. We're scarred up in this recruiting, this Signing Day deal. It's not an exact science. So we react off our paranoia and we continue to recruit them until the very end. And happy he's a Buckeye. Happy he's a Buckeye. We needed him.
Q. You guys have to replace Carlos obviously. Still early. Still have to go through spring and obviously. But what's sort of the pecking order right now as you guys get ready to go into spring?
COACH DRAYTON: We've got a group of guys that have played some ball last year. Rod Smith is a guy who is coming up in his fourth year. It's time for him to show improvement. Ezekiel Elliott proved that he has the maturity. His body is definitely ready to play. We've got Warren Ball and Bri'onte Dunn. What I say to them in the meeting room would not be brand new in regards to our scheme. So we've got four guys that are ready to compete for that starting job. They've got big shoes to fill. And if it takes more than one of them to fill that type of, to get that type of productivity we got from Carlos, then we'll do it. So I'm really excited about what we have coming back. And part of the reason why we didn't go out and get that pure back this year, we feel comfortable with what we have in our program right now. But they have to develop. They're not there yet. But hopefully by fall they will be.
Q. Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson, how similar and dissimilar are they?
COACH DRAYTON: You know, they're similar in the fact they can run from point A to point B really fast. Dontre's got some playing experience under his belt. They were used similarly coming out of high school. They were coming from a spread offense where they were asked to do some of the same things. What we don't know about Curtis Samuel right now is how is he going to respond when he's in the shoe with 108 (sic) people looking at him. When the ball is in the air is he going to muff it or bow up and embrace the moment. We do know that Dontre Wilson doesn't flinch in that situation. So it's a lot of those intangible things that have an effect on the productivity of a young football player at this level. We do know that he definitely has a set of tools that's going to be a valuable asset to our offense and how he could bring that to the table in his first year, we'll see.
Q. Stan, can you put into words how different life will be for this offense that Braxton came back for his senior year as opposed to if he had chosen to go to the NFL?
COACH DRAYTON: To replace a dynamic like a Braxton Miller, what he can do with the football, with his feet, it's thinning the play, those are all kinds of things that are not coached. A lot of what he does is not coached. That would have been devastating. Not to say that we would not have survived the moment. We've got young men who are being trained on a daily basis, you know, to prepare to take over that type of position. But what he brings to the table is something special. And it would have been dearly missed. Now, Braxton Miller also did those things behind four veteran offensive linemen. To me that's the issue that we think about in that war room there is how we put five guys in front of him where he can feel comfortable. We know he's going to continue to develop and mature in his growth toward the game. However, we've got to put some guys around him where he's feeling comfortable. You can grow and not feel comfortable around your surrounding cast and still stunt your growth. So we're real careful how we go about developing our offensive linemen, new running backs, new set of wide receivers, around him so he feels comfortable doing what God has given him the ability to do.
Q. Obviously you've recruited off a National Championship. You went out and recruited last year off an undefeated season. For a team like Michigan State that beat you guys in the title game, won the Rose Bowl, for any team, whether Jamarco or anybody else, did you see anything are they more of a factor on the recruiting trail, how does that successfully translate for them or any team when you're coming off a good year?
COACH DRAYTON: When you look at a team like Michigan State and the way they go about recruiting. I know often a lot of times your class is evaluated with these stars, you know, or the pen of some of the scouting services that are out there. Well, you don't see a whole lot of five stars that they're recruiting. It does not mean that we don't go face to face with them in the recruiting process, because we do. But they do a phenomenal job of developing their athletes once they're there, they really do. And to sit there and say that we're going against them in the recruiting process, that player is going to turn out to be a great player because they won the Big Ten championship this year, that's not necessarily true. There's so much more to that as you know, you know, the camaraderie within the program, the cohesiveness of the boys and their brotherhood, and you know the understanding of the system, these kids being ready to play at a high level because they understand why they're doing what they're doing. That's what we have to go in focus on. Yes we're going to go out and recruit the best athletes in the country. And if Michigan State just so happens to be doing that, then it's justified, no doubt. But to sit there and say we can evaluate where we are right now in our program and the way we are, where we are in our recruiting right now, based upon what Michigan State's doing, we can't do that.
Q. Urban Meyer said in the course of your meetings today you discussed what Wisconsin and what Penn State did in their recruiting and how it might be different than what Ohio State does. What did you take from that meeting?
COACH DRAYTON: Well, you know, what I took from that was basically Coach Meyer does a phenomenal job of making sure that we stay on the edge. No doubt about it. If those particular teams are doing a great job of going out, getting the top talent in the country, no matter how they went about doing it, okay, then he wants to know if it's a fit for us to continue to do what we're doing, or is it a fit for us to go out there and explore other ways to go about doing our business. If it's a way to go out there do it better than what we're doing it right now, Urban Meyer is going to see if it's a fit for us, at least evaluate it. I guarantee you, real soon here he's going to be making a trip or trying to make a trip or trying to get Pete Carroll on the phone from the Seattle Seahawks, because he found a way to get that team, who wasn't a bunch of first round Draft picks or anything like that, they won the Super Bowl, they found a way to get that done. He's intrigued by that. He has this competitive spirit that we all have under him and if there's a guy or there's a coach or a recruiter or a team that's out there doing something really well and having tremendous success from it, then we're going to find out what it is and try to better it or embrace it ourselves, no doubt about it.
Cornerbacks/Special Teams Coach Kerry Coombs Press Conference Transcript
Q. The majority of this class committed to you guys, you guys have had this assembled for quite some time. You guys were often undefeated season, had won the first nine, ten games of this year. Kind of seemed like everything was rolling. But how do you think the responsibility has changed now for this group to prop you guys back up after some tough losses at the end of the year to get Ohio State back on track?
COACH COOMBS: Responsibility with which group. I'm not sure I understand the question.
Q. To bring it in now.
COACH COOMBS: Their job is simple. Their job is to prepare to play for Ohio State in a very, very short period of time. And that's their only job. We've been around visiting doing home visits with these guys, making sure they understand their expectation of themselves, because it is what our expectation is, is that they come in prepared to play this fall. So how do they get that done. When I'm talking with Damon Webb, I'm talking with him about, well, make sure you understand what Doran Grant and Gareon Conley and those guys are doing at Ohio State right now so you can emulate as much of that as you can on your own. So when you're in June you're in the best possible shape to play in the fall. I simply believe it's their job. It's our job to assemble them into what we hope is another fantastic season. But their job is to get themselves individually ready. Now, the ones that are here, be a part of the team. Raekwon and those guys be a part of the team, they're already doing that. But the guys still in high school they've got to work right now to prepare themselves to be ready in the fall.
Q. Your role is changing somewhat. Could you describe how that came to be, what you think about it?
COACH COOMBS: I don't know that my role is changing, as much as the style in which we're going to coach the back end is certainly going to be different. I would tell you I embrace it completely. What has to happen in any collective group or part of defense is that everybody's gotta be understanding what everybody's doing at all times. I don't think we function very well in isolation. And so one of the things that Coach Meyer and I talked about almost immediately after the season was installation of pass coverage, concepts and communication, having one voice. And that that would be very important to everybody in the back end. What I would tell you is that Chris and I are going to function as a team in the back end. We will have one voice. We both may be saying it but we'll be saying the same thing so that when we meet together, when we coach together, when we're practicing together, we're all using the same terms, the same phrases, the same words, coaching things, and I don't know the same style, I haven't been able to watch Chris coach I don't know his style yet but using all of the same language and verbiage out there. And I think that's very important.
Q. In terms of how he'll fit in the room along with Larry?
COACH COOMBS: Absolutely. We're spending a lot of time together right now since we just got back off the road. So these past three days and actually Chris and I met on the last two weekends to begin to have a lot of conversation. He's going to fit in phenomenally well. And so is Larry. They are different men and different personalities than the guys they're replacing, but they bring a different experience, which I think I was talking with my guys today about the fact that these transitions and these experiences are very positive for all of us. Nobody has the market cornered on the knowledge of the game of football. So we're getting an opportunity to learn from two more guys who have been successful at other places in the manner in which they do their business. That's a real positive for the Ohio State Buckeyes. We've lost guys that have left us things and we're gaining guys that are bringing us more things. So to me that's a great thing for all of us.
Q. I don't want to put words in your mouth, are you saying is there a communication gap in the back end of the defense between the coaches last year?
COACH COOMBS: No, not at all. Everett and I work well together. What I'm saying is our style of teaching in separate rooms at times and things like that can lend itself to separate communication points. And I believe very strongly that those things, the more you can do things in a group setting, the better off you're going to be. And so our approach, Chris and I will work together to make that happen and there will be times when we will be working right half and left half. And at times we'll be working corners and safeties, and at times we'll be functioning with four guys doing things together so that there's we've talked with our players about this. I would think they would tell you the same thing, that all of that will lead, I think, to greater communication, which should be our objective going forward.
Q. How under the gun are assistant coaches right now here in terms of development of players? Obviously it's a big part of what you guys do, but Urban mentioned several times today in terms of the development of players. Is that a point of emphasis right now that you guys, there's some players out there that you guys have to develop on this roster?
COACH COOMBS: Well, I don't think there's any question at this time of year that's exactly what we're doing. We just got done with recruiting. We come back off the road from recruiting, and there's this month of February that coach Marotti is calling Buckeye Maker Month there's a lot of different things going on there leading into spring ball. That's really what coaching is all about. You go get those great players from all around the country, and now that they're here, you develop them and every player on our roster, whether it's our Heisman candidate quarterback or the freshman left guard can get better at what they do. All of us can. And so we're all going to function at a very high level on player development over from now until the foot hits the ball for the first game.
Q. Can you explain what you think is going to be different fundamentally about this defense next season compared to this past season or the past two seasons?
COACH COOMBS: I don't want to speak out of turn. I don't know that that's necessarily my role. What I would say is that we are going to change our style of play. We're bringing in a couple of guys who have done things differently and so that brings in knowledge to our room defensively. Coach Meyer has great thoughts and inputs about what he wants to see and so those are things that we're going to be implementing throughout spring. I think when you come to practice, you'll see those things. Again, I don't know that it's my place to speak about specifics. But, yeah, I think there will be fundamental change across the board.
Q. When you say change of style, that obviously means change of style means, what, more aggressive? What does that mean?
COACH COOMBS: Yeah, I would think you would see a more aggressive style of play across the board from alignment to attack and so forth. And again I don't know that I I don't want to speak out of turn. But I would say absolutely that would be the desire on everybody's part.
Q. I don't want to go back over chapter and verse what happened in the Bowl game looked like guys who didn't play a lot were put in tough positions, big receivers with a lot of experience that made plays. Just from a teaching standpoint as you went back over that with these guys you have to win with this upcoming season, what were the things that maybe they didn't do in some cases not looking back for the ball? What were they taught? What went wrong in those situations?
COACH COOMBS: What I would say is all five secondary players were playing in new spots, which was a unique experience that sometimes happens based on alignment and injuries and all of the things that can take place in the course of a season. I think that there were tough plays made by a very good offense, and I think our kids will learn and grow from that. I also think there were positives that came out of that game for our kids. So our job is to correct mistakes, to develop players, and to move forward with a difference in our approach and I think our kids are excited about that. In fact, I know they're excited about that. I would expect that they're going to play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.
Q. Will your role as special teams change at all? And more emphasis on special teams for you, will that be what it was?
COACH COOMBS: I don't think that will dramatically change. Obviously we're going to look to improve in those areas. We saw great improvement across the board but there's still a lot of work to be done on special teams. Coach Meyers incredibly involved on special teams as you all know. Great emphasis for our entire team and coaching staff. I would expect that we're going to continue. We're working right now on the improvements we're going to make in the four running teams for next year. Obviously there's player development that has to take place there as well, with new kicker coming in. And so there are things we're going to improve on. And we're examining all four running teams, how we will change and improve our schemes across the board. So I don't know how much more or less there will be. I think we're all in this whole thing together. I really do.
Q. Have you looked at going into spring ball, the corner spot opposite Doran, what's that competition like? Is Cam Burrows still the corner guy or safety or nickel now?
COACH COOMBS: He'll be playing some nickel. Playing some safety. There will be some changes. The competition I would tell you is wide open. You've got to perform to play. And I think that the expectation on the part of every player on this football team is you gotta show up every day and you've got to perform in order to play in the fall. We're going to work really hard on finding those guys who can compete and who will challenge in tough situations. So whether they're incoming freshmen, whether obviously redshirt freshmen or experience kids.
Draft Day: Denzel Ward