Tag Archives: Kerry Coombs

Buckeyes look back at Penn State, ahead to Illinois

Ohio State’s preparation for its eighth game of the season began Monday with the typical press conferences at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center.

Coach Urban Meyer was asked about the release of the first College Football Playoff standings (to be released Tuesday night) and said he felt style points will count the same now as they did in the BCS (video).

There are bigger concerns after an undermanned Penn State squad pushed the Buckeyes to the brink of their first conference loss before Ohio State prevailed in double overtime, 31-24.

Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton
Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton

Meyer hopes that adversity — coming on the heels of four straight blowouts — will help his young Ohio State squad improve as the middle of the season turns into the stretch run.

“You just were in a street fight, and you’re winning,” Meyer said. “You started getting your tail kicked and you came back and won. That builds toughness.” (Read more)

Meanwhile, assistant coaches Stan Drayton and Kerry Coombs talked about their takeaways from the game after Meyer was finished. Drayton and Coombs both agreed they were proud of the way the Buckeyes responded to adversity in overtime, but Drayton admitted issues with execution were a factor in the struggles of the offense in the second half. For a full rundown of what they had to say, click here.

Ohio State spring football reactions: Defense

So what to make of spring football at Ohio State for 2014? Is it possible to come away feeling good about the defense without also questioning the offense? I’m going to start off by saying yes, but I can’t promise not to change my mind.

The OSU secondary appears to have taken to the new, more aggressive approach brought by co-coordinator Chris Ash. Of course, we had not really gotten to see Gareon Conley or Eli Apple in action much before this spring, but veterans Doran Grant and Armani Reeves seemed to thrive in the new attack as well. All of them certainly seemed comfortable, even from the first day reporters were allowed to watch practice. They got right in the faces of the OSU receivers in position drills, seven-on-seven and scrimmaging. We saw a fair amount of coverage busts — especially involving the tight ends deep — on that first day, but those appeared to dissipate as the spring went on. Continue reading

Ohio State football assistant joins student races

Ohio State held it’s annual Student Appreciation Day in conjunction with an open spring football practice today, and assistant coach Kerry Coombs jumped in on the action as students raced for the right to take on the speediest Buckeye football player at next weekend’s spring game.

He’s the one in gray in the middle, and it looks like his participation got some of his guys fired up.

Overheard at Ohio State football: Indiana Week

Cleaning out the reporter’s notebook after another week following the Buckeyes. This time, we’re looking at a trip to Indiana following a defeat of Nebraska. We start, as always, with a recounting of the press luncheon of head coach Urban Meyer. For personnel notes, see BuckeyeSports.com.

URBANISMS

Ohio State’s head coach said this is as good as he has felt about an offensive line in a long time. They are his dudes now. However, they still don’t have any depth, and that is a concern. He wants to see the next three – Taylor Decker, Chase Farris and Tony Underwood – step up and show they are ready to play.

He has made a big deal about getting fast starts for the offense, but it hasn’t always worked out. Sometimes it’s been brutal. Nebraska came out defending them well and he got on the headset and said it was Braxton time. They needed to run him to jump start the offense.

Joshua Perry did OK filling in for Etienne Sabino, the senior linebacker who broke a bone in his leg against Nebraska. Perry, a true freshman from the Columbus suburbs, needs to build his confidence. He has a lot of talent.

Meyer was asked about Miller being a Heisman candidate and said he doesn’t usually talk about that at this point in time, but Miller doesn’t qualify yet. He is great to watch, but let’s wait a few more games.

He does pay attention to the national polls, and it is something they talk about with the team. The guys are going to hear about it regardless, whether that is at home or at class or somewhere else.

They are feeling the lack of scholarship players. Doug Lesmerises of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer counted 76 current guys, and that is apparent in special teams in particular. They had starting lineman on the field goal unit on Saturday. Linebackers are young, etc.

Wide receiver Ricquan Southward left the team after losing his love for the game, and safety Jamie Wood is out for the year with a second shoulder surgery of the year on tap.

Freshman quarterback Cardale Jones was suspended for the Nebraska game after tweeting that he didn’t understand why they have to go to class because they are in college to play football. That took away from Meyer’s attention to preparing for the game Friday and made him angry. He called Jones’ comment ignorant, something he is over now and ready to move on from. Jones is a great kid who made a mistake, which makes him no different than a lot of other guys his age.

Meyer has a lot of respect for Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson, who is an offensive innovator from whom Meyer learned a lot while he was developing his own version of the spread offense.

They held a tough practice for the young guys who don’t play in the games on Sunday. The old guys were off. He realized that players who don’t play pretty much get five days off during the season because they don’t do much at practice after Wednesday and they don’t get that action on Saturday. He needs to limit hits on the starters, especially the linemen, but the backups need live reps to get better.

Braxton Miller won’t miss practice to rest, but he doesn’t get hit in practice anyway.

In hiring an offensive line coach, he wanted another Steve Addazio, who held that position for him at Florida and is now the head coach at Temple. He wanted to make sure it was a guy who is involved in game planning, not one isolated to working with the offensive linemen. He liked the past experience Ed Warinner had as an offensive coordinator at Kansas, among other places.

He knows better exactly how Johnny Simon is feeling now because he has gotten Simon to start telling him the truth when he asks if he’s hurt. They have grown-man conversations. Meyer needs to know because an injured player can hurt the team if he’s out there. He joked they have a checklist for all Simon’s bangs and boo-boos.

He is disappointed in the production so far from the freshmen linebackers. They need to come along faster, especially with Sabino sidelined now.

He sees a very good player in Indiana defensive tackle Adam Replogle, and Meyer notices every week it seems like they are facing talented guys from Ohio.

He loves seeing the success Florida is having now and called the idea he left the cupboard bare there, “one man’s opinion.”

Orhian Johnson is doing very well in place of the injured C.J. Barnett and has accepted changing roles well. He is more talented than he realizes, according to Meyer. He has also battled a hip pointer. Johnson is a smart guy and a big, tough athlete.

He is very concerned they could overlook Indiana because the Buckeyes are coming off of two very emotional wins. They are sore, too. He is not sure how the team will deal with it, but he’s glad the Hoosiers nearly beat Michigan State last week because that will make it easier for them to get the attention of the team. They have already been able to watch that film on their iPads or whatever they want to use.

Indiana is improving and will challenge you with their spread formations.

Ohio State’s tight ends are earning a bigger role in the offense and did great things against the Cornhuskers.

Assistants added:

Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs talked at length (and with great enthusiasm) about the Buckeye kickoff team, a unit now known as the piranhas because they are small and vicious. They enjoy what they are doing, and he hasn’t gotten any resistance from anyone asked to fill that role.

They hit the Nebraska return man inside the 10 three times on Saturday, a truly tremendous feat. To get ready for the job, they have races in practice and then stop the film later to point out who is hustling the most on coverage.

Someone asked if Coombs thinks the kickoff will be eliminated from football eventually because of the concern about concussions, and he said yes, but he would not be a fan of that move. Teams now take different approaches. Some, like Indiana, try to kick it out of the end zone every time, but Ohio State kicks it high and wants to force a return then make a stop inside the 15.

Cornerbacks are able to do more individual study of opponents than other people on defense because of their role. That lets them study specific routes and watch players for tendencies. That played a role in Bradley Roby’s interceptions of Taylor Martinez. He is very good at watching habits and understanding what is coming. He really wants to make plays, and Ohio State needs that very much.

Someone asked his perspective on Ohio State and Cincinnati both having great years, and he said he loves Cincinnati. That’s his town. He wants what is best for them, and he recruited 60 percent of the guys on that team. That includes his son.

Coaching at Ohio State is amazing. The atmosphere Saturday night against Nebraska was better than when Coombs was an assistant for the Bearcats in the Orange Bowl. The experience here is second to none. He told the kids, ‘Let’s not lose anymore. This is fun.” He also called it “exciting” and “phenomenal”.

Roby gets confidence from the knowledge he gets from film study. Coombs never wants to coach a cornerback who doesn’t have swagger. Everybody gets beat and gives up catches in man coverage, so they have to be able to forget it. Tell them they were lucky to get one and go back to work. Feel like it’s never a matter of the other guy being better but just getting lazy or using bad technique. Coombs said Michigan State had a pair of catches in 27 times Roby was in man to man coverage.

Roby is blessed with a lot of ability, and he is much better than he was a year ago. He is not a finished product. He has worked hard at his craft and can be a first-round draft pick if that continues.

Tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Hinton agreed with the suggestion the atmosphere at Ohio Stadium for the night game against Nebraska was great for recruiting. “If that doesn’t get your blood boiling, there’s something wrong with you.”

He got chills from the quick cals with the students before the game, and responses he has heard from recruits so far has been tremendous.

Someone asked about lack of targets for Jake Stoneburner, and he said the offense has distributed the ball very well. They did not expect the tight ends to be open on vertical routes last week, but they were so they took advantage. The offense can do a lot, so they have to hit whatever is open.

He felt they made good adjustments against the Huskers, then everything came together.

Asked about how a good record can effect recruiting, he said it must be something because his Facebook has been buzzing. It helps because you get a lot of TV time when you’re good. That helps you catch the eye of everyone. It has some power, and kids watch.

Zach Boren has provided leadership for the team. They talked about it that day when he was in there on an off day to get some extra work. He has stayed pretty healthy and understands the system and the coaching process better than he did at the beginning.

Hinton is excited for the guys he left behind at Notre Dame to be off to a good start this season. That’s the great part of being in this business – the relationships you develop with young men. He couldn’t imagine just spending his time with adults all day. He loves the kids back in South Bend but generally only gets scores from their games and a few texts from guys.

He agrees there is a feeling of constriction with the roster small. You never feel like you have enough even when you have 85 scholarship players, and they have a maximum of 82 for now and two more years.

That’s tough because coaches always like to have a pair and a spare.

Players said:

Running back Carlos Hyde said Rod Smith has come a long way, done a 180 since last spring. He is doing great now and is a contributor for the team on offense and special teams. Smith hadn’t bought into the system earlier, but now he’s changed his mind.

He’s not worried about having to stay 60 miles or so from Bloomington before the game, but he did sound surprised when told about it. “How long did you say it was?” came as his initial response to the question. They will have the same mindset anyway.

The AP national title is a goal for the team. They need to do that so people will remember them since they can’t be Big Ten champions.

Asked about his ability to gain yards after contact, he said he wants defenses to feel like they have to bring more guys when they try to tackle him.

Smith said he eventually decided to just grind in practice and try to get noticed on special teams. He wasn’t showing enough before.

The offensive line has worked like crazy to get to the level of play it has contributed recently.

He doesn’t think staying in Indy and bussing to Bloomington on Saturday will be too difficult. They still need their road focus. It will be exciting.

He is just happy to be going back to his home state. He will see some of his friends from high school, and he wants to put on a show.

Roby said this Ohio State team has more leadership than last year’s. They also have a goal and everyone has bought in. That makes the team better.

Last year taught them how embarrassing it is to be a losing team. Now they need to bring the respect back for the Buckeyes.

Fellow cornerback Travis Howard is having a good year, and Roby always tells him in warmups they are the best pair of corners in the Big Ten and they need to go out there and show it every week.

Asked about the importance of the “victory meal” the team eats together on Sunday nights, he said, “It’s not the loser meal, so it’s cool. It’s time to be thankful for another victory.”

Linebacker Storm Klein said he assumes the Buckeyes will be in nickel most of the time in Bloomington.

Joshua Perry has done well in practice. It is crunch time for all of the young linebackers, and there is a greater sense of urgency in the room now. He hasn’t thought about what kind of shape the team and his position would be in if he wasn’t here.

The young guys can’t just wait around for things to happen.

Overheard at Ohio State Football: California Week

Cleaning out the reporter’s notebook after another week on the Ohio State football beat… 

URBANISMS

(Recapping the Ohio State head coach’s weekly press luncheon)

They have got to get the youngsters going in the running game. He has confidence in Bri’onte Dunn if he practices well this week. He is a good runner, but he had some glaring missed assignments last week against UCF. He has to practice well, or they won’t put him in the game. That also goes for Rod Smith. 

He has no reservations with using Zach Boren as more of a runner, either.

Braxton Miller’s mechanics are coming along as a passer, but he still lets them go occasionally. It’s a thing of beauty when he gets it all lined up. He has a great release. They are pushing his maturation so he gets some of the miscues out of the way. He just needs to get more and more reps. The development of the wide receivers helps, too.

We can expect to see wide receiver Corey Brown used in more ways. They have to think outside the box about ways to use him (Isn’t that what these guys are known for?)

Asked about the pass rush’s struggles, he said they have dropped eight men into coverage a lot, and teams have done a combination of quick passing against them and using maximum protections when they do take deeper drops. They have to count on the guys who are out there doing better at winning individual matchups, and they might supplement their efforts with more blitzing. Maybe both.

It is tough to improve during the season because they only really have two days in pads and you don’t want to get people beat up in those sessions. Plus there is prep work for the opponent to do. He wonders about how to balance that a lot, maybe 20-25 percent of the time.

The preponderance of broken plays on Saturday was a result of a variety of things – people going the wrong way, people not knowing the right play or aligning wrong. If it was one thing, they wouldn’t have any trouble getting that fixed.

There was a “tough” coaches meeting this morning to discuss some of the things that need to improve.

He loves coaching the kickoff team and appreciates the efforts of the members of the squad.

They are still trying to find out exactly what they can do with Jake Stoneburner. He is listed as a wide receiver now, but it remains to be seen if he can separate from DBs down the field. He can block at the point of attack, but he is probably not the best tight end they have for that. Meyer wishes he had another year to coach Stoneburner to continue trying to utilize him best. He also said he never lost trust in Stoneburner when the senior got in trouble during the summer, but he was angry with him and disappointed in him like one would be with a son.

When they failed to pick up a fourth-and-1 early in the game, there was a mistake by a player as they tried to run the “power” play. The next time they faced that situation, they went with an inside zone play instead and it worked. (Should note they ran “power” with the quarterback out of the shotgun and ran zone out of an offset I with the QB under center.)

Some big plays other teams have hit them with have been a result of defensive backs lacking discipline. UCF converted a third-and-21 when a DB didn’t get deep enough in his zone (I believe this was Roby drifting forward). There was nothing wrong with the defensive call there. They have missed some tackles, too.

They will have to adjust the offensive scheme based on who plays tailback because not everyone can handle every part of the offense. Both young tailbacks are talented, but they still have to figure out who deserves to get the ball. That will be learned through practice this week.

Miller’s carry total was inflated by errors on some plays. People going the wrong way or running the wrong route or missing a block. The Buckeyes need to play better around him. The coaches have to call what they have to in order to win the game, but they have to be smart, too.

Asked about the upcoming OSU Hall of Fame weekend, Meyer said he is good friends with inductee Bobby Knight, who does it the right way without cheating. Others can have their own opinions about Knight.

Meyer admires Mike Vrabel – another inductee – very much. He knows Vrabel’s high school coach well and is glad he kept him on the staff.

They do need to get more handoffs and quick throws for Miller so he can have time to compose himself during the game. Miller is a hell of a football player, better than people around the country realize. Meyer has tremendous respect for him. Figuring out the best way to use him is a good problem to have.

He hasn’t talked to AD Gene Smith much about it, but he seemed to think the nonconference scheduling philosophy of having one national game, one mid-major game and two “other” games (i.e., patsies) will continue.

Matching up against an unusual Cal defense will be interesting because the Buckeyes made a bunch of errors last week against a very conventional defense from UCF. That is a function of the transition in styles, but it must be addressed.

Cal has several draftable players, including a cornerback and a defensive tackle Meyer did not identify by name. The Bears have a deeper roster than UCF, which had a lot of studs at the top.

Asked again about the pass rush, he acknowledged that losing Mike Bennett to a groin injury throws off what they wanted to do. They would prefer to pressure with only four players, but they might have to dial up some more blitzes.

Cal saw some things Ohio State does from Nevada’s pistol offense last week. Nevada executed at a high level despite being probably outmanned a bit. The OSU coaches will look at that as well as how Cal has defended Oregon in the past.

He has not seen the OSU DBs lose any physical matchups this season. One big play was a result of Travis Howard not knowing the coverage they were in, another was the lack of depth in a drop he already mentioned. He thinks Howard will be fine, though, and missing the call is uncharacteristic of him.

When the Buckeyes have the ball, they can expect to see some “zero” coverages from Cal, meaning their corners will be in man to man with no safety help. That means OSU will need to go for some home runs even if it means a few foul balls. Still, coaches hate second-and-10 after failed deep shots. They want to be on schedule.

He is getting more comfortable with what the wide receivers can do and the passing game overall.

He said he has great respect for Cal coach Jeff Tedford, whose stuff he has studied and borrowed in the past. (Tedford is something of a quarterback/passing game guru.) Meyer spent some time with him back when Meyer was at Bowling Green putting his offense together in the first place and uses some of his passing concepts.

 

Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said Howard has done a very good job going about his business since he took the job last winter. He is among the best players Coombs has coached.

Facing 95 passes in two games has forced them to use a variety of pass coverages, and the ensuing complication has played a role in some of the miscommunication and breakdowns they have had. It also has made it harder for teams to pass the ball against them and helped lead to some of their turnovers. He expects dramatic improvement.

They can’t accept giving up any 20-plus-yard plays, especially if it is a case of coverages being blown.

Cal WR Keenan Allen is a great player who runs good routes and has speed. He will go vertical.

Most of the problems OSU has had in communication have come between the safeties and the cornerbacks. He hopes to correct them. The coverage is called from the sideline, the players identify the offensive personnel and formation then apply the coverage that’s been called. Breakdowns have occurred at each step.

Doran Grant played 22 snaps last week and did a good job. Adam Griffin is playing extremely well in practice. Freshmen Najee Murray, Armani Reeves and Tyvis Powell remain outside that top four with Murray and Reeves running ahead of Powell.

Asked if OSU should blitz more, he said there is give and take. It means fewer guys in coverage and sometimes playing more man, but his guys are good in man. The pressure does need to shorten the clock for the quarterback. He hopes the pressure and coverage can be used to enhance each other going forward.

Cal QB Zach Maynard is very athletic. He scrambles to run and to throw and makes big plays. He is a pocket passer first but can get out and do damage.

PLAYERS SAYETH: 

Wide receiver Devin Smith said how the wide receivers perform against Cal is up to them. They will have a good day if they do what they’re supposed to.

The scout team cornerbacks have been playing press all week to prepare them, and more pass plays are going in this week.

He is pumped to face one-on-one coverage. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman told him Cal’s strategy will challenge their manhood (told this later, Meyer said he was happy to hear that.)

Jordan Hall has been looking good in practice and said his foot felt fine.

Braxton Miller was sore after the UCF game but felt normal by midweek.

Smith would be honored to have his one-handed catch against Miami (Ohio) voted the national play of the year, especially since he is so young.

Hall looked like he could play at practice but it was up to the coaches to make the call. He gives them versatility because he can line up at running back or receiver.

Fullback Zack Boren said the running backs have looked really good in practice this week, especially the young guys.

He was coy about what role Hall might play this week but said he is encouraged by how he looked.

Boren didn’t know his own role yet. He has done a variety of things already, including play out wide against Miami and running back against UCF. It’s fun moving around in the offense and changing things up.

Hall is a playmaker who can do special and crazy things any time he gets the ball.

They haven’t done anything out of the ordinary to prepare for Cal’s unique 46 defese.

Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said if everything goes according to plan with the pass rush, they have to make the Bears pay when they reach him.

If the defensive line plays well, the defense will have a good day. They need to have more production. Hankins has done his job so far but needs to be more dominant.

He has good practice battles with Andrew Norwell, who was always a great run blocker and has gotten better in pass protection.

Mike Vrabel brings tons of energy to the defensive line group. His NFL experience gives him a lot of knowledge regarding technique. He taught them about attacking just one side of a blocker sometimes instead of always going through the middle of him. Vrabel has been harping on technique and taking it to the playing field from the practice fields.

Adolphus Washington is doing a good job, but he needs to think less.

He could see J.T. Moore or Se’Vonn Pittman helping out on the field this week.

Cornerback Bradley Roby said Cal has a good group of receivers. He is ready for whoever comes his way. He won’t be matching up with star Keenan Allen as OSU plays boundary and field corners.

He admitted to becoming disinterested at times against lesser opponents and during practices. He feels he has improved in that area. Also, Smith and Brown have improved since the spring and offer him a greater challenge now.

Roby wants to take on the best in the country and looks forward to having a “show-time matchup” with Allen.

He is tired of noon games (they will play a fourth straight next week against UAB).

The defense’s problems have been related to pretty common breakdowns in communication. They have more checks based on what the offense is doing this year.

Brown is the best trash talker among the OSU receivers, but the rest of them don’t talk a lot, anyway.