Coach Conley Chat Transcript: Aug. 30

Scout.com and BuckeyeSports.com premium Internet subscribers got together with former Ohio State assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Bill Conley on Thursday for a live chat session. The conversation was a lively one and here is a transcript.

Coach Conley: Hi, everyone. I'm ready for your questions. Fire away.

SusanZ: Hi, Coach.

Coach Conley: Hello.

expresblfc: Hi, coach. Rea's Say today talked about how simplistic our offense was against Florida. Is that an issue in your mind going forward?

Coach Conley: The offense this year will resemble more the 2002 philosophy due to the youthfulness at the quarterback spot. Look for the Buckeyes to have a more ball-control type of attack. I think you'll see the TEs much more involved, and more two-back running sets than in the last couple of years. Even in the spread, the Buckeyes will run as well as pass.

SusanZ: The topic of Coach Bollman being in the press box or on the field was discussed on the forum yesterday. Back in '01 and '02 (for sure), Bollman was on the field during games. Who was the offensive coach in the box those years? Also, for several years now, well since JT was hired, it's been debated whether Tress or Bollman actually calls the offensive plays. Tell us, Coach. Who is it?

Coach Conley: In '01 and '02, the offensive coaches in the box were myself and Joe Daniels. Also, it's not uncommon for the offensive and defensive coordinators to be in the box, but it is not necessary. Everyone on the offensive staff knows what the game plan is, and it's all charted anyway. As long as you have a good open line of communication, there is really not a problem with everyone being on the same page. One advantage of having a coach like Jim Bollman on the sideline is that he can make the OL adjustments as the game progresses. As long as he is getting the right info from upstairs. John Peterson is also an outstanding line coach and can make those sideline adjustments. As for who calls the plays, JT has the final say when it comes to that.

expresblfc: Coach Conley, would you take the 2006 or 2005 defense? LOL

Coach Conley: The 2007 defense may end up being more productive than either the '05 or '06 units. I really like the front seven, and especially the front four. There is no coach in America, however, that would pass up having an A.J. Hawk on the field. It would be great to have both an experienced A.J. and an experienced James Laurinaitis together.

DrGonzo2: Coach, can you predict when Ray Small will be back? Also, if you had to guess, how many carries would you say Brandon Saine gets a game this season?

Coach Conley: Ray Small could maybe play next week against Akron, but it won't surprise me if the staff holds him out until Washington. He is an outstanding talent and probably the fastest player on the team. I look for Brandon Saine to be an integral part of the offense ... as a running back and as a receiver. He may even be used as a slot type of back similar to what was done with Ted Ginn Jr. the last couple of seasons. He is a guy who can get the ball on a reverse or option, and a guy you can throw to out of the backfield. It would not surprise me if Brandon doesn't get at least six touches in the opening game. Saine also will see action as a return specialist in the near future.

DrGonzo2: That is terrific. How about the O-linemen, Skinner and Mitchum? Any actual report on them?

Coach Conley: Kyle Mitchum is still banged up and will not see action at least in the first couple of games. Jon Skinner is more of a week-to-week situation that we'll continue to monitor.

DrGonzo2: Wow, I am terribly excited! I have to ask the question: Do you think this will be a "Tresselball" year?

Coach Conley: (Laughs.) If you mean more of a ball-control philosophy, I would say you are right on target. I should add that the Buckeyes' defense, which is the strong point of the team, can't be on the field all day long. It's crucial for the offense to control the football and put together long drives in order for the defense to stay fresh. Ohio State's special teams are a big asset going into 2007. Two good kickers and a good punter along with great coverage units reminds me of the 2002 campaign.

expresblfc: Coach, are the kids themselves (Michael Brewster as an example) bigger impacts now in recruiting other kids than they were in past?

Coach Conley: This is nothing new in terms of recruiting. I remember when I was coaching Cris Carter at Middletown HS. The day he committed to Ohio State, he called Chris Spielman to try and convince him to be a Buckeye. I think it is interesting that as of now, Terrell Pryor and Brewster are scheduled to visit on the same weekend!

DrGonzo2: How about Robert Rose? Is there any chance he will be on the field with Gholston and Wilson during passing plays?

Coach Conley: The coaches are very excited about the progress that Rob has made. Even though he has gained some weight, it hasn't slowed him down. He will be an instrumental part of the OSU defensive front this season. He is a little banged up right now, however, and may not see action this week.

HINYG8: Is Evan Blankenship going to redshirt?

Coach Conley: I would say there is a definite possibility that will happen.

DrGonzo2: Is Dane Sanzenbacher really the No. 3 receiver? Will he be on the field in the first three-receiver set?

Coach Conley: He is the No. 3 guy right now because Small is hurt. I expect Taurian Washington and Devon Torrance to also see some PT this week. They all have had very good camps.

HINYG8: I have seen rumors about Antonio Henton falling out of the No. 3 quarterback spot. Anything you can add to that? Confirm, deny, comment?

Coach Conley: The fact is that Todd and Robby have really pulled away from Antonio more than Antonio going backward. Todd and Robby both had good springs and good fall camps, and have really separated themselves. Joe Bauserman has been fairly impressive, especially since he has been away from football for a few years. Remember this: Once you get into the season, you can only rep two QBs. The other guys become scout-teamers.

DrGonzo2: Will all three scholarship QBs see playing time against YSU assuming things go well for us?

Coach Conley: I only see Boeckman and Schoenhoft playing unless it is a total blowout ... and I don't see JT doing that against Youngstown State.

buckatborder: Hey, Coach! Just wanted to say I enjoy your writing and hope to see more from you! Sorry if you have covered this, but how long do you think it takes for Boeckman to be the QB we need?

Coach Conley: I think Todd has already earned the spot and it's really his to lose at this point. Unless he makes some bad decisions and/or turns the ball over, he'll be the guy.

RedondoBeachBuckeye: Coach, your analysis of Mo Wells, please. Has he performed to the level you expected when he was being recruited? If not, why would you think that is?

Coach Conley: I think Mo has the speed and athletic ability to be a good player here, but remember at Ohio State when you have RBs that are as fast and bigger, it's tough to be the No. 1 guy. The one thing I hope Mo will bring to the team this season is consistency as a return man. At the same time, I know the coaches would like to see Mo get the ball in the open field either on short passes or outside runs.

buckatborder: Do you think recruiting at OSU is an easier job or harder job now than it was when you were here?

Coach Conley: I think it is easier now because we have more of a national reputation than we did back in the early 1990s. When we first went into Florida and recruited heavily, we had to beat out the SEC, Big East and ACC schools. Now, being that we have had success on such a national scale, we have been able to beat many of those schools head-to-head for some of the top talent. Think back to when I recruited Chris Gamble at Dillard HS in Fort Lauderdale. That was a huge get for us and when we won the national championship against many of his home-staters, it made the recruiting battles even easier.

buckatborder: Thanks for Gamble! No doubt on that.

buckatborder: What makes Beanie Wells a more special player than a guy like say Michael Bush?

Coach Conley: I don't consider Beanie Wells a more special player than Michael Bush. Bush is a threat to score every time he touches the football and is a very versatile athlete. Beanie is a very good player and should have a phenomenal year, but he is a different type of player than Bush.

DrGonzo2: Is Terrell Pryor coming or what?

Coach Conley: I really think if there was an early signing period in football, he would sign with OSU at this point. BUT!!!! Because there is no early period, it's impossible to jump to the conclusion that he's definitely coming here. But I think we are in the lead at this time.

HINYG8: Is Ryan Pretorius the clear No. 1 kicker or will we see both kickers Saturday?

Coach Conley: You will see both on Saturday. Ryan will start out as the PK and Aaron Pettrey will be the kickoff man. I really think Coach Tressel wants to see both kick FGs this week. I don't think the battle is over by any means. The next three weeks will determine that.

RedondoBeachBuckeye: Coach Tressel indicated that Rob Schoenhoft will see meaningful minutes against YSU. Sounds like some early second quarter series. Do you think this is a good idea?

Coach Conley: I think this is a very good idea, because unlike the last couple of years, both QBs haven't had that much game experience. OSU will win the game and it's important that both the Nos. 1 and 2 get reps in case of injury at some point in the season. I expect Robby to be in the game as early as the third offensive series, and at least by the second quarter.

RedondoBeachBuckeye: Regarding Pryor, is he the real deal in your mind?

Coach Conley: I evaluated Pryor on film and I think he is an exceptionally athletic QB. Even though he is not as big as a Vince Young, he is that type of threat. He can pass, run and has the athletic ability to make a big play every time he touches the football.

DrGonzo2: All the reports say we are going to change the defensive philosophy. Are we going back to the "Silver Bullets"?

Coach Conley: We have never abandoned the Silver Bullet philosophy, and the defensive philosophy here really hasn't changed in the last 10 years. We are a movement defense that will blitz, play man coverage and mix in zone blitzes. Jim Heacock, just like Mark Dantonio and Fred Pagac, will use the same system with his own variations.

cjdjbucknuts: What do you miss most from being on the recruiting trail, and who was best get and the one that hurt the most when they wiggled off the hook. Thanks, Coach! You're the best!

Coach Conley: The thing I miss the most is the competitive nature of it, wanting to win those recruiting battles, along with the social aspects of meeting different players and coaches from around the country. There have been a lot of good gets, guys like Chris Gamble, Steve and Greg Bellisari, etc. You usually forget about the ones that decide to go to other schools because you never really "lose" someone that you never had. I guess the situations that bother you most are ones where kids commit then change their mind at the last second. Examples: Richard Washington and Durrell Price.

buckatborder: Who is your sleeper defensive and offensive players this year?

Coach Conley: On defense, Cameron Heyward, who is 6-6 and 280. He has a chance of being an impact player as a true freshman. On offense, I'll go with Daniel Herron. Boom has had a very good fall camp and seems to have picked up the system. He is more of a physical runner than I anticipated.

DrGonzo2: Do you think there will be more man-to-man on the corners, enabling our blitz packages?

Coach Conley: That has always been part of the OSU defensive philosophy. We have had more success playing a pressure package than zone coverage. Look for this philosophy to continue.

SusanZ: As a former coach, give us a feel of what the emotional state is of the coaches and players today with the excitement of the season opener two days out? Do some have trouble sleeping, eating or is it just like an ordinary day for them?

Coach Conley: The coaches are cautiously optimistic. The biggest thing the staff wants to see Saturday is consistency. That means offensively moving the ball and not having turnovers; defensively no missed assignments and making good, solid tacklers. For the players, their eyes will be like saucers on Saturday morning. They will be very excited to not open in Ohio Stadium but to hit somebody besides their own teammates. For the experienced players, it's a chance to make amends for January and start the 2007 season off with a good, solid victory.

badphish111: Hope I didn't miss this question, but predict our season record.

Coach Conley: I think the Buckeyes have a really good chance of being undefeated going into the Michigan game, and I really expect that game to be for all the marbles again. Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn State are all teams that could knock us off if we're not mentally and physically ready. But I really think this year's team will get better and better each week with the season culminating in The Game against TSUN.

DrGonzo2: Will we play as much nickel as we did last year? Who will be the "star" nickel back?

Coach Conley: We will definitely play a lot of nickel (5 DBs) and some dime (6 DBs) against teams that will try to throw the ball against us. That's commonplace in today's game of football.

badphish111: Any good words about Kurt Coleman? How is he coming along?

Coach Conley: I think Kurt is one of the most improved players on the entire team. He can play both safety and corner, and if need be, used as a returner. I've liked Kurt ever since I saw film of him in high school and I truly expect him to be at least an all-conference player before he graduates.

DrGonzo2: Is there a chance Eugene Clifford or Chimdi Chekwa will be the nickel back?

Coach Conley: Even though I think both Clifford and Chekwa will play, I'm not sure if either will be a nickel back. Jamario O'Neal seems to be the guy at that spot right now.

MarkReaBSB: Coach has time for one more.

badphish111: Thanx, Coach!

DrGonzo2: Thank you so much for your time. This has been wonderful!

Coach Conley: It was great for all of you to stop by. I really enjoy the interaction.

DrGonzo2: If no one else has any, I'll take the last one: Coach, do you give a damn about anything in the whole state of Michigan?

Coach Conley: Good last question. Yes, there is one thing: Getting out of there!

DrGonzo2: Ha, ha, ha. Great!

Coach Conley: Thanks to everyone who participated, look for my "Six Points To Victory" series which begins tomorrow, and see you all in the end zone!!!!


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