Fox Answers Critical Questions About Defense

OSU senior Dustin Fox is back for his third year as a starter at cornerback. In a recent interview session, he fielded questions on the new starters on defense, the role of the secondary and how resilient you have to be as a corner. Click here for this interesting Q&A session.

Dustin Fox is the elder statesman of the OSU defense and secondary with two seasons as a starter under his belt at cornerback. We had a chance recently to meet with Fox and discuss issues in the secondary and on defense. Here's what we discovered:

Q. Are you concerned about the youth on defense?

Fox: "I think there is definitely some talent there. Playing experience is the question mark because they haven't played as much. But I think some of the question marks are like the defensive line, and those guys did get to rotate in. They didn't get to play the whole game, but in some key situations some of those young guys did rotate in. Those guys know what it's like to play. They just have to extend it out now. I think the whole defense is moving along and coming together as a family."

Q. What is spring football like for guys like you who have been here a few years? Do you look forward to it?

Fox: Well, this is my last one. I don't know if I should be excited about it or say, `Man, it's another spring.' But it's football. We haven't done that in a while, so that's always fun. We've got a new field out there to practice on, so that's exciting. We don't have to practice every day. You get to practice, then take a day off and recuperate. But I think it's a good opportunity, and myself personally, to work on some skills and get ready for the fall. It's just early preparation for the season."

Q. Dustin, do you get the feeling that it will be status quo for the defense, despite all of the guys you've lost with the coaching staff and players?

Fox: "I definitely feel like guys feel we are going to go out there and meet our expectations. Guys know we're going to go out there and stop the run. There is no doubt we're going to do that. Guys are going to step up and we're going to somehow get that done one way or another. I don't think the attitude has changed at all. We're not looking around and wondering, `How are we going to get that done?' We're excited to have new guys and new faces playing, but we want to do the same things."

Q. You lose Chris Gamble at cornerback. Can you talk about the battle at that other position? Does that concern you?

Fox: "You could put any of those guys in there and we'll be fine. It just comes down to the fact that some people need to step up. Coach Tucker talked about our secondary probably being one of the most intelligent ones we've had in terms of knowing the defense and knowing what to do. He wants to have six or seven guys to get in there. Regardless of who starts, other guys are going to get in there and play, whether it is the nickel or the dime. He says he wants to play a lot more dime this year, so that's exciting for us to know we have that much talent and depth back there."

Q. At safety, you have Nate Salley back. But you have guys like Tyler Everett, Donte Whitner and Brandon Mitchell back as well. Do you feel good about the safety positions?

Fox: "You've got all those guys. All of them have started one game or another in their career. They all have the experience and the ability. It's just a matter of who's going to be put on ABC."

Q. Along the lines of what was asked a moment ago is there some trepidation about losing such talented guys on the defensive line, three guys with a combined nine years of starting experience, and being able to maintain the standards?

Fox: "I think the young guys are excited about the chance to step up. It's going to be tough losing that experience. But talent-wise, I think we have some guys who can step up and be what Tim Anderson was. When those guys were young, I'm sure they had to replace guys. It's just a part of the program. We'll be fine. I think those guys will do a nice job."

Q. From your standpoint, this will be a smaller senior class, kind of like the Mike Doss class from a couple of years ago. Do you look at it that now you have to be the leaders?

Fox: "I think the number of seniors we have is good, not too many and not too few. We're all close. We look at each other and we all have the same goals in mind. As far as us stepping up and being leaders, I think we'll see that happen. There will be guys who do that who start, guys who don't start, the whole spectrum of the senior group."

Q. What, specifically, are you working on this spring?

Fox: "We are definitely working on technique and focusing on the little things, things that will help us. I'm just trying to take a leadership role and bring the young guys along."

Q. Talk about going against the fine receivers you see in practice every day.

Fox: "In our one-on-one drills, we go against guys they talk about for All-American and All-Big Ten honors in practice every day. Then when we go out in games the guys we go up against are not as good as the guys we face in practice. That helps us with our confidence."

Q. No cornerback goes his entire career without giving up a touchdown. Shawn Springs didn't. Antoine Winfield didn't and Chris Gamble didn't, either. How hard is it to come back and play again after plays like that?

Fox: "It is hard to be thrown out there and play corner as a young player. You have to have a short memory. You just have to focus on the next play. If you play and are thinking about it and all worried that they are going to beat you and score a touchdown, bad things are going to happen."

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