Coaches Have Faith In Marshall

Ohio State redshirt freshman Jalin Marshall has had some adventures as a punt returner but the OSU coaching staff reaffirmed their faith in him this week after a two-fumble game against Minnesota

When Indiana faces its first punting situation Saturday afternoon – and the Hoosiers are no stranger to that problem – Ohio State redshirt freshman Jalin Marshall will trot out to the other side of the field as the punt returner.

It’s a role that an overly reactionary writer might think he should take a short break from, but two-time BCS national champion coach Urban Meyer disagrees.

“Jalin had a tough game, but we haven't lost confidence in Jalin,” Meyer said in the opening statement of his Monday press conference. “We don't do that here. If you don't play hard, that's a whole different animal, but you play hard and make mistakes, we've just got to fix it, and he's going to work on a lot of things this week to get himself better.”

Meyer doubled down on that stance later in the day, saying he's more than willing to punish bad technique but mistakes made while going all-out don't end in a benching. That's a nod to the effort-based culture (four to six seconds of relentless effort from Point A to Point B) Meyer spent the offseason trying to install.

"I want a real aggressive team that's not worried about making mistakes, and I think we have that," he said.

Meyer noted that he thought the coaching staff had a discussion about the fumbles and how best to fix the problem, but Marshall's position coach said he didn't go about his normal practice routine any differently on Sunday.

"There's been an increased emphasis I'd say as a whole, but that's something that's emphasized week in, week out," wide receivers coach Zach Smith said. "I coached no different on Sunday at practice that I have any other practice, and that is ball security is the utmost emphasis with my guys because if they're going to touch the ball, they need to secure it, obviously."

Marshall earned the job from sophomore Dontre Wilson midway through the season. Even if the coaching staff wanted to turn back to the Texan, that's no longer an option now that a foot injury has sidelined him for the rest of the regular season as well as the Big Ten title game.

Still, there are other options on a team loaded with talent but Smith and Meyer haven't wavered from their position that Marshall gives them the best chance to make something happen on special teams.

"He was very aggressive to the ball, and that's a trait that we really liked, and so we put him in that situation, and he's been physical since we put him there," Smith said. "This last game he had two hiccups. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, it was just kind of a bad day for him, so we're just going to work really hard to make sure he doesn't have another bad day like that. But the positives that he brought before, he still brings, and so we're excited about it."

Heading into a game in which he'll likely get plenty of chances to field punts in a game that won't be close, the coaching staff is looking for him to bounce back the way that Wilson did when he scored a touchdown after fumbling against Michigan State.

"Well, I think when you're invested as a football player and you care about your teammates and care about your team, when you fumble the football, you know how detrimental that can be to your team, and it's really hard to overcome," Smith said. "It's something that a skilled athlete, really any athlete, needs to be able to overcome adversity, but it's not easy to do, especially if you're invested and care. So that was something that was hard for Jalin in this game and was hard for Dontre the game before, and Dontre did a great job coming back and making a play, and Jalin needs to do that this coming week for sure."

Against a team that ranks No. 120 out of 125 in third-down conversion percentage (.295), he'll certainly have the opportunity to redeem himself.


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