This week the assistant coaches representing Ohio State were defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell and offensive line coach Ed Warinner, who is also co-offensive coordinator.
Ed Warinner, offensive line coach/co-offensive coordinator
Asked about the offensive line, Warinner said the six guys who played last week -- Taylor Decker, Darryl Baldwin, Jacoby Boren, Billy Price and Pat Eflein along with reserve Chase Farris -- are a good rotation and he'd like to work Joel Hale in as well if possible because th former defensive lineman has played well lately.
Ezekiel Elliott plays with a lot of energy with a low pad level. He is explosive and finishes runs with great pad level. He's good at avoiding direct contact, able to edge defenders which helps him finish runs. That's what they thought they were getting that when recruiting him, and now he is starting to show it. He did a Carlos Hyde-type job Saturday night but is a different type of runner.
He disputed the notion the offense went into the Cincinnati game trying to find itself, kind of indicating they felt like that happened against Kent State. They had a plan going into UC and used it, playing the guys they wanted to see and getting good results. "Are we a finished product, no, but we're but coming along pretty nicely? Yes." The more players they get in the game the more they play and the more they show what they can do in game situations.
The young quarterback and inexperienced offensive line are developing good chemistry as things go along. It takes time. J.T. Barrett has taken the quarterback role in changing plays and directing traffic. There's a process to that and it's something that is ongoing and he's getting better at that, but he is very capable of doing it.
Asked about plays Meyer referred to as bear beaters designed to counter when teams cover up the three interior offensive linemen, Warinner said they have to be careful with over exposing young guys who haven't played a lot -- showing them too much can give them too much to think about going into a game, but they have figured out how to attack it now (UC ran it twice, giving up on it after giving up a 14-yard run by Elliott). He said VT's defense was something he hadn't seen in 31 years of coaching (I believe by this he meant playing the bear front and cover zero in the secondary with no free safety).
Regarding the Maryland defense, he said stats can be deceiving but they're a four-man front with some change-ups to that. The Terrapins will be different than anyone they've played so far as coverage. That affects how they support the run, trying to get extra guys to support run
"They're a basic four-down 4-2 team. I think the play really hard. I think they're competitive guys. I see them giving great effort." He noticed they play lots of seniors on defense. "I think t's gonna be a challenge to go over there and take a challenge on the road against a veteran group that's gonna try to play hard and try to get after us in their first Big Ten game."
Luke Fickell, linebackers coach and defensive coordinator
Asked about the defense, he said simply, "You can't give up big plays. He felt like the defense was sound overall. UC took some shots, which is going to happen and they need to be ready for. They can develop some change-ups and tweaks to the coverage/scheme to protect themselves a little more and get more pressure, but overall this is what they do. And he pointed out they can add more of those change-ups as they get more experience playing the new scheme. "Live by the sword, die by the sword sometimes, but you don't want to die by three of them. You take one of them sometimes."
There is give and take with any style, but he believes in his guys and wants to accentuate the positive and continue to build. "We're gonna bet on our guys, and that's what I told them yesterday." He plans to keep putting them in position to make plays so they need to do it.
Asked what Meyer's message about the defense was, he said he believes the head coach understands how things work and that things happen sometimes. He knows some of the pros and the cons and challenges they will have and challenges really good teams like UC present. Maryland has some great playmakers and will also present a big challenge.
They will have to be ready for Maryland to go with regular starting quarterback C.J. Brown, who hurt his left (non-throwing) wrist last week, or his backup Caleb Rowe, but they don't expect the offense to change much regardless of which is in the game. Brown is faster and a better runner. Rowe might throw the ball a little better. They also had a plan for both Cincinnati quarterbacks, but he admitted maybe their plan to stop the backup in basically a wildcat situation might not have been effective enough.
Raekwon McMillan played pretty well against the Bearcats, although they didn't challenge him a lot as far as the passing game. He needs to continue to just get better overall. Fickell called Curtis Grant the heart and soul of the defense. McMillan played well for a freshman, but they don't want him to be satisfied with that. The two have a great relationship, and they both know how to work. The rotation will continue with the two, and he warned Grant before the last game McMillan would end up getting more snaps if it was a pass-heavy game plan from UC.
The sky is the limit for Joey Bosa. They put a lot of things on him. He can be a dominating force with the combination of speed off the edge and power inside he hasn't seen much. They are going to try to keep getting better at complementing him with more pass rush from the other side. They are always challenging the pass rush to improve. He is happy with the effort, but they demand greatness. There is a balance to maintain there, too, because they knew it would be hard to get to Gunner Kiel much because he would get rid of the ball quickly.
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