Another Monday means another chance to find out what the coaches thought about the Buckeyes' last game after watching it on film. Kerry Coombs and Stan Drayton both had some interesting thoughts about the Buckeyes' win at Penn State, and they both looked ahead to the next opponent.
Urban Meyer's Ohio State coaching staff is full of good interviews, and Monday included appearances by two of the best in Kerry Coombs and Stan Drayton. The pair had a lot to say about what went right and what went wrong Saturday night in State College while also looking ahead to Illinois.
Kerry Coombs, cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator
Penn State was a great character win for the Buckeyes. With Penn State rallying late and going ahead in overtime, it was a game they were not supposed to win. The only way they could win was by showing incredible character and integrity, and that's just what they did. He is going to go into practice and tell them they proved themselves, and now they need to take the positive energy from that and use it to get better as they move forward the rest of the season.
Coombs said the final drive had some missed tackles and missed opportunities to get off the field (interceptions), but the players rose to the occasion to prevent the touchdown and make plays in overtime they needed to make.
They don't do any specific punishments for guys who drop interceptions, but they are noted as MOBPs - missed opportunities to make big plays. Guys will spend extra time with the JUGS machine or get someone to come out and throw them passes after practice. Just standing in front of the machine and catching passes straight on won't cut it. They have caught the ball well in practice, for what it's worth. But he said they have adopted a pro mindset, which means they know they need to work on deficiencies to get better.
He sees an expanded offense for Illinois with Reilly O'Toole having taken over at quarterback for the injured Wes Lunt. While Lunt was a gunslinger, O'Toole brings more of a running threat. They will study both what the Illini did early in the season with Lunt and now with O'Toole. Coombs called O'Toole a playmaker, noting he can run the ball or be a distributor. He can execute the option game.
Will Ohio State overlook Illinois? Coombs said no because they know they played poorly in Champaign last year, and they will see a capable team on film that just got a big win against Minnesota.
By Coombs' count, Cameron Johnston has dropped 12 of 19 punts at the 11-yard line or closer to the goal line. He's been so good at pooch punting they won't hesitate to punt from the 40-yard line because they know he'll execute what they want. That's why they are by their measure No. 1 in the country in field position.
Asked about Tyvis Powell, he said he is playing with great confidence. He has worked hard, including a lot of film study, and that gives him more confidence when he's out on the field. He Also plays with great effort, which puts him in position to make plays. Coombs also praised Powell's leadership, saying he has made great strides this year with a starting job secured.
Coombs loves Doran Grant. He is a funny guy who can make everyone laugh, but he's also got the ability to lead in a firm manner. That is not as common these days as it used to be. Pure leadership is not valued like it used to be, but Grant will let guys know what is up when they need to hear it. He is making a difference on the field with his play and leadership.
Stan Drayton, running backs coach
Asked what went wrong Saturday night, Drayton cited execution of fundamentals. Penn State had a phenomenal game plan and played well, but the coaches put the Buckeyes in some situations to succeed. In a high-intensity environment, sometimes fundamentals go out the window and mistakes are made. Not all of Ohio State's plans were executed properly. Penn State, as has become common, did some things against the Buckeyes they had not seen on film. The OSU coaches have had to get used to trying to predict what opponents might try to do to them, and they have to make sure they have the players ready to execute on a fundamental level to overcome some of that unknown. (Have stuff that works regardless of the defense.)
Winning the way they did at Penn State is a result of the hard work the Buckeyes have put in. They took a group with a lot of young players into an incredible environment and overcame some low points. That is a testament to their growth. That they came out of Beaver Stadium with a win is an indication that as a group they are going in the right direction.
Asked about his feelings when the offense went back on the field needing a touchdown to keep the game going, he said you hope you have done what you needed to in practice to prepare them. You create scenarios for them to make them focus mentally and hope it carries over. What gave him comfort things would work out? The look he saw in J.T. Barrett's eyes gave him confidence things would turn out well. The feeling of seeing those guys work hard then go through something like that and come out on the other end successful is incredible. He is excited to see what the future holds considering how young so many of the key players are. Now they will have to hit pause at times to make sure guys take a moment to reflect on what is important for their growth moving forward. With young guys, they can't take for granted what they will assimilate.
Drayton said he saw Barrett put aside the negative things that had happened in regulation and just focus on what needed to be done in overtime. That was a big moment for him. Asked about his potentially being limited in practice because of an MCL sprain, Drayton said Barrett is a guy who knows how to prepare -- as demonstrated by his ability to step in for Braxton Miller with little warning -- so he will be fine.
Illinois has always been a team that is athletic on defense, but now they look more physical on film this year. Their coaches do a great job at putting guys in position to make plays rather than just survive a game. Ohio State needs to make sure it is putting its guys in positions to succeed.
Asked about teams seeming to have their wildcat package pretty well scouted, he said sometimes that doesn't really matter because there is a certain appeal to being able to have a one-back set that has the same running threat as one with two backs in the backfield. That's tough for a defense to account for.
Curtis Samuel is ready to play, but Drayton stuck with Ezekiel Elliott more against Penn State because of the game situation. Elliott is capable in all phases of the game. He trusts him to block and to make plays without the ball. Elliott is an explosive blocker, but he's still got some inconsistencies to iron out. They need to get Samuel in the game more because he is explosive.
See what Ohio State fans are saying here
Follow on Twitter @marcushartman