Tag Archives: Ryan Shazier

Ohio State 2014 NFL Draft recap

Ohio State had six players chosen in the 2014 NFL Draft, including a pair of first-rounders after only having a total of one first-rounder in the previous four drafts combined.

Ryan Shazier talks to reporters in Columbus
Ryan Shazier talks to reporters in Columbus

The draft marks the end of the line for the 2009 recruiting class, which became the second Ohio State recruiting class since 1999 to produce zero first-round picks, joining the ’08 class. Both of those were rated top five classes by Scout.com. The ’09 class, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation, can brag of more overall draft picks (six — Reid Fragel, Carlos Hyde, Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort, Jonathan Newsome and John Simon) than the ’08 class (Mike Adams, DeVier Posey, Terrelle Pryor), which was ranked No. 4.

Newsome, a four-star recruit from Cleveland Glenville, transferred to Ball State and as near as I can tell is only the second player to sign with Ohio State since 1987, transfer out and still get drafted. Brandon Underwood is the other. Underwood signed in 2004 and finished his career as a Cincinnati Bearcat. That is out of 75 players.

The 2010 and ’11 classes are already assured of avoiding the fate of the two groups that immediately preceded them as they were represented respectively this year by Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier.

Here’s a rundown of all of the picks:  Continue reading

Ohio State NFL draft first round notes

After a two-year drought, Ohio State had two first-round picks in the 2014 NFL draft as Ryan Shazier went 15th to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Bradley Roby went 31st to the Denver Broncos. The last time two Buckeyes were taken in the first round was 2009, when Malcolm Jenkins went to the Saints and Beanie Wells went to the Cardinals.

Shazier is 21st Buckeye picked by Steelers and the fifth in the past five years.

Ryan Shazier talks to reporters in Columbus
Ryan Shazier talks to reporters in Columbus

Last: Mike Adams, OT, 24th pick of the second round (56th overall). Other recents: DE Cameron Heyward, DE Thaddeus Gibson (who moved to LB) and DE Doug Worthington. Four of the five play on the defensive side of the ball, where former Ohio State star halfback Dick LeBeau is the long-time coordinator. First: Jack Dugger, end, 1st pick of second round in 1945.

Shazier is the 48th linebacker from Ohio State chosen in the common era (1967-present). First: Nick Roman, Bengals, 10th round 1970.

He is the ninth Ohio State linebacker picked in the first round. First: Rick Middleton, who went 13th overall to the Saints. The Broncos picked Randy Gradishar one pick later.

Shazier is the first player drafted from Jim Tressel’s last recruiting class, signed in 2011 and ranked No. 3 in the nation. He was the 13th Tressel Ohio State signee to be picked in the first round. Continue reading

‘O’ has been optional for OSU to score against Penn State

By now you’re probably familiar with the pick-six tradition Ohio State has established with Penn State in the past decade, but that really only tells part of the story.

In the past 15 games against the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes have 14 non-offensive touchdowns. That includes nine interceptions returned for touchdowns, three fumble recoveries for touchdowns, a punt return and a blocked punt return.

Continue reading

Overheard at Ohio State: Nebraska Week

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

Urbanisms

Asked what he said to Braxton Miller after carrying the team offensively but committing three turnovers last week, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer replied, “I love you to death, but protect the ball.”

Nobody is perfect, but he is playing hard and he’s only a sophomore. On his interception, he should have thrown the ball to the flat. He jammed his knee on the second fumble, and that looked bad because it was right in front of Meyer, but he needs to hang onto the ball.

Meyer knows Miller’s high school coach, Jay Minton, very well and spent a good bit of time with him in January getting to know more about Braxton, who has spent a lot of his life getting away with things he shouldn’t do on the field because of his athleticism. He is perhaps more humble than anyone else Meyer has seen.

Meyer’s philosophy is to coach a team really hard after a win. They might be fragile when coming off a loss, but Tuesday’s practice was supposed to be one of the toughest of the year.

Nebraska has a dynamic quarterback in Taylor Martinez and a very good defense that brings some unique looks. The defensive line plays two gaps a man and the backfield engages in pattern reading, kind of like a matchup zone in basketball. That makes it hard to run some of the Buckeyes’ base passes, so they have to do some different things.

He thought the count of times they had the OSU DBs in press coverage against Michigan State was 26 (MSU ran 64 plays). That is much more than previous weeks. Meyer felt good about how the defense played other than one play.

He has a good relationship with Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, who was on the team in 1987 when Meyer was an OSU grad assistant. They coached against each other when Pelini was defensive coordinator at LSU and Meyer was head coach at Florida. He was a real tough guy as a player and that is reflected in his personality today as a coach.

Meyer loved the reaction of the offense when it got the ball back with a chance to run the clock out in East Lansing. They were excited after seeing MSU would have to punt.

The offensive line still has only five guys they can rely on (he wants eight), but those five are doing very well. Reid Fragel, the former tight end, has really become an Ohio State offensive lineman the last two games. That is a powerful statement, Meyer said.

Zach Smith is doing a good job as wide receivers coach. His guy, Devin Smith, caught a touchdown pass to win the game last weekend, obviously. He has been coaching hard and now has developed a big-play guy in Smith and a reliable option in Corey “Philly” Brown, who is putting up numbers. The young guys are coming along, and Meyer pointed out Smith also runs the punt block team. “We finally got a frickin’ punt here,” Meyer said.

Serious injury is a concern for Miller after he went out of the last game a couple of times. He recalled the plight of Oregon when Dennis Dixon blew out his knee late in the season and the Ducks lost the rest of their games. He observed that Dixon originally committed to him at Utah before opting for Oregon. Kenny Guiton was cool and ready to go when Miller got hurt. He was already getting warmed up before the coach called for him. Guiton isn’t as talented as Miller, but the is very functional.

He wasn’t sure who would mimic Martinez on the scout team, but the defense has experience against a quarterback like him from facing Miller in the spring and preseason.

The Buckeyes came together last week in facing MSU, and he was very fired up about that.

The linebackers played better, including Ryan Shazier, a sophomore who is one of his favorite guys. Meyer didn’t realize how little Shazier played last year at first. He is someone Meyer will listen to because he talks like a man.

Regarding the video issue with Michigan State, Meyer said he asked a member of the video staff about it and it had been taken care of last Tuesday. He also said he believed the Big Ten had been made aware of the video going around of a Michigan State offensive lineman trying to poke Johnathan Hankins in the eyes.

Meyer joked he would tell Brown it is OK if he breaks a tackle at some point after catching a screen pass. That is part of the spread offense, a chance to make something happen in a one-on-one situation. They need guys who can do that. They’re an “on schedule offense” right now. They can’t rely on big plays, and they aren’t good enough to overcome being behind the chains so they can’t take a lot of big shots down the field.

The team wasn’t very close when he got here, for whatever reason, but they are now. This staff pushed the envelope and they came together over the weekend. You’re more likely to see things like that when you win against a good team on the road. Zach Boren showed his manhood with his leadership. Only six or seven of the 20-some teams he has been part of as a coach came together, so it is not a given.

This is not a great team, but it has a chance to do something special.

He regretted how vehemently he went after an official who called a personal foul on Carlos Hyde after the Buckeye running back hit an MSU punt returner above the shoulders after he fielded punt. Meyer thought the flag was for kick catch interference but saw later it was a proper call for unnecessary roughness.

Nebraska has a dynamic offense that will turn a mistake into an 80-yard gain, not eight.

Offensive line coach Ed Warinner was happy for his guys to get the player of the week recognition on offense. It validates the hard work they have put in since January. They have played hard and shown lots of improvement, but there are still things to clean up as they move forward. They understand what they want to do offensively, and that’s be physical. It was nice to finish out the game the way they did.

He was confident they would be able to run it out when they took the field and smiled to himself about it on the sideline. A lot of guys were competing in that last four minutes, including the quarterback, tight ends and running back.

The growth of the team speaks volumes for the development the staff is working on in all phases of the game. He can see confidence developing in the wide receiver and the offensive line, two position groups that got a lot of criticism in the offseason.

They are building momentum now.

Fragel works hard and is starting to play well. It’s tougher on the line than at tight end. He had to grind it out against MSU star end William Gholston, and that will be the case again against Nebraska’s ends.

That was like a 12-round boxing match for the team. There were a lot of plays that could have gone either way.

There was a lot of success here followed by a tough year and then a change in doing business. That is hard to deal with. He’s a grown man and he has been through it before, but that’s not the case for the players. They bought in quickly, maybe faster than he expected.

Warinner knows the Nebraska coordinators well from his days as a coordinator at Kansas.

They are very sound and physical. The defensive tackles will knock the guards back and the linebackers play downhill. Then they play varying coverages in the backfield. That is what Bo Pelini is known for.

He is sure the offensive line knows it has been picked on over the years here. There is a scab that is healing now. They won’t be pushed around anymore. The line wants to be able to carry the team instead of having to rely so much on the quarterback. It’s good for them to gain confidence.

Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel remembers the team being ready to go at the start of the Nebraska game last year but being deflated when Miller went out with an ankle injury. He suggested that reaction might have been a result of youth. Then they got steamrolled as no one could make a play to halt the Husker momentum.

Nathan Williams is getting better as he gets farther and farther from major knee surgery, but they are still managing his health. He has done a hell of a job for them. He puts the team first. He cares about his teammates and it shows. The coach also said it is important Williams is able to practice. He can’t just get by with gaining experience in games, as Williams said he was pretty much doing the first couple of weeks.

Hankins is getting comfortable and starting to recognize plays so he can react to them. He conditioning is good, not great.

Someone asked about things that go on in piles during a football game, and Vrabel said it is pretty much anything goes as long as a ball is involved. There is no place in the game for cheap shots, chop blocks or eye-pokes in the game. He tells guys nothing is worth a 15-yard penalty.

Nebraska has a patient offense. They are really comfortable doing what they do. They will pound and pound until they break through, but they can also go over the top.

OSU had a good understanding of what Michigan State was going to do on offense, and the Buckeyes got a lift from the offense scoring right away.

Martinez’s speed makes it imperative everyone has their “fit” in the running game (that means gap covered).

Mike Bennett is coming along healthwise and adds depth for them. The other young guys are still developing.

Quarterback Braxton Miller knew something was wrong with Gholston when he was lying on top of him after a play because he wasn’t saying anything. The referee told him to lie still and not move until they could figure out what was up. Miller is glad he could get back up.

He feels better throwing the deep ball thanks to continuing to practice it.

He was mad at himself for not being able to go back in the game at Nebraska last year. He remembers they had a good game plan.

He wasn’t that sore after the game. You take big hits in the Big Ten.

He hasn’t felt like he has been overused.

He expects a crazy atmosphere at Ohio Stadium under the lights Saturday night.

Wide receiver Devin Smith said he loves making big plays, especially for his teammates. He is more than just a deep threat, though. He can make guys miss if he gets the chance.

He enjoyed the crowd last year at night against Wisconsin but expects it to be bigger this year.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier said they got lazy at times against Nebraska last year. They were lackadaisical. Remembering how that game went does provide motivation, as was the case last week with Michigan State.

He expects the stadium to be jumping Saturday with everybody into it.

The linebackers felt like they were a weak point for the defense but they have improved. They got stronger against MSU. Coach Luke Fickell has been tough on them, telling then they can be great but they weren’t showing it.

Overheard at Ohio State Football: UAB Week

URBANISMS

In hindsight, he liked that the Buckeyes’ 35-28 win over California last week was of the come-from-behind variety.

(See BuckeyeSports.com for word on team awards and injuries.)

Jordan Hall looked really rusty, but they are glad to have him back. He told Meyer he saw about 70 yards he left on the field when he went back and watched the film.

Meyer called the penalties committed by the offense very alarming and something he must get fixed as the head coach. They were bad and often ignorant penalties.

Defensively, they have to stop allowing big plays. The offense had too many three-and-outs, and it has not produced as many explosive plays as Meyer wants to see from the running game (aside from Braxton Miller).

They want highlight-reel plays from someone besides Miller and Devin Smith. Hall could be a big-play guy, as could Carlos Hyde. Hall needed to pick up his feet a few times as he was going through the line Saturday and he could have made a few more big gains, but in general they just need to break more tackles and make people miss more often. That’s what is happening to his defense, by the way.

He wondered if perhaps the tackling had suffered because of how much of an emphasis the coaches put on forcing turnovers in the spring and preseason. There were times they went for a strip instead of securing the tackle first. They normally only tackle once a week in practice but could go to twice (More on defensive struggles).

Someone asked about the “pop pass” Miller threw to Jake Stoneburner on Saturday and Meyer explained it came from his days at Utah when he started using a tight end as another direct-snap running threat because Alex Smith wasn’t a great runner. Eventually they added a pass to the package, and Tim Tebow later made this famous.

Left tackle Jack Mewhort has been a model student in his time at Ohio State other than his public urination/fleeing police episode during the summer. That was a stupid mistake, but Meyer liked how he responded and liked how his father responded, which was “not pleasant.” Mewhort has probably been their best offensive lineman so far.

As he has said before, Meyer said the team is average right now. They play fairly well at times but make mistakes others. He is ready for some “non-adversity games” but doesn’t expect any of those the rest of the way with the Big Ten coming up. He likes his team and the way the guys approach getting ready for games, noting he saw a bunch of them loading up iPads with scouting reports Monday on their day off.

The offense needs to take some more shots down the field, but there is risk reward. He wants to maintain a passing percentage of 70 percent and stay on schedule, something that doesn’t happen if you go deep on first down and don’t hit it.

The best thing about the first three weeks on offense is Smith has emerged as a “go get it guy.”

Meyer gets more involved in the play calls late in close games, particularly on offense. The defense is doing fine schematically but needs to play better. One problem teams are giving the Buckeyes is how they attack the OSU defense in the boundary.

He can’t remember being around a defense that has given up so many big plays. The need to be more sound in the boundary.

All three teams they have prepared for so far have come out defensively in something other than they had showed before or last season. That is frustrating, but it probably won’t be true anymore after this week.

He watched some of the Michigan State-Notre Dame game on Saturday night and believes the Spartans have a top-5 or so defense and have for a few years.

The Buckeyes struggled in the third quarter Saturday because of penalties at the wrong time and lack of execution. Those led to a lot of very challenging down and distance situations (third and long).

He has talked to Miller about just playing and not overthinking amid all the talk about his running too much. He doesn’t want him to get in his own head. Going forward he expect teams to defend Ohio State in a way that he has the ball in his hands less. (That could lead to more designed runs for Miller if teams consistently give him a “give” look on the zone read/inverted veer.)

Meyer is impressed with Miller’s progress since last year. A lot of times freak athletes have just been getting by on their athleticism so long they don’t know how to work hard to prepare, but he has made great strides in that regard. He practices better than he did even in the spring. He made two grown-man throws to Smith on Saturday.

He saw in Miller’s eyes after he threw the fourth-quarter interception that he wanted the game in his hands with a chance to atone. Some would shrink from that opportunity.

The game-winning touchdown pass came on a play where Philly Brown was the intended receiver on a short pattern but the defense doubled him and Smith was left wide open deep after Miller broke from the pocket.

Asked about Christian Bryant and his tendency to make both big plays and big mistakes, Meyer said as guys develop as players, they start to see the big picture more and develop a sense of when to go for it and when to be safe. Bryant is a “rock-star type” of player who wants to make things happen, and Meyer has had conversations about that with him. He has been great in those talks about staying within himself and the defense.

He said if the time comes for Miller to be touted as a real Heisman candidate, that could be fun. He liked it in the past with players such as Tebow, but Miller isn’t playing well enough for that talk yet.

Someone asked about facing John Peterson, the former tight ends coach who is now on staff at UAB, and Meyer said he is a great guy who was here as a player when Meyer was a graduate assistant in the mid-80s. He did not retain Peterson because he wanted to have guys familiar with his style of offense so they could be on the same page when drawing things up.

Assistants added:

Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said the staff had to adjust on the fly in the first half when Cal came out in a four-man front instead of the “Bear” defense they prepared for. Then they needed time in the third to get switched back to dealing with the Bear, although he said what they were doing in particular was not something he had seen.

Asked what has been good about the offense so far, he said the effort, especially on the offensive line. He is pleased with the growth of the wide receivers. They are not where they need to be but are improving.

When they’re good, they’re really good. Now they need to continue to be good more often. Consistency is key.

Someone asked about the pop pass Miller threw Saturday but I didn’t write down the answer because I thought it was a stupid question.

Asked about going deep, he said they need to analyze when to do it both based on risk/reward and down and distance. How the defense is playing matters, too.

He has seen a mind-boggling variety of defensive responses to Miller’s talents. In general people are trying to come up with different ways to keep 8 and 9 in the box while remaining sound.

He tries to see the game as the quarterback is seeing it, but that is difficult. The challenge every week is to give him only what he can handle. Miller is seeing the field better, and he comes over with a better explanation of what he is seeing when they talk on the sideline and adjustments need to be made. Now Miller can tell him what the problems are, which allows them to figure out how to react.

Herman gets a great vibe from how Miller has responded to learning this offense.

There are no issues with Miller’s upper body mechanics as a passer. He has a strong arm and a smooth delivery. He is still working on keeping his feet calm and getting the timing down with his upper and lower body. He throws better on the run because it is easier to keep all that stuff in balance without thinking about it too much.

He’s good in practice at keeping his feet settled down. Now he has to work on taking that into games more consistently.

Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said the defense wants to be sound. That is their No. 1 stress.

They have to keep leverage on the ball. He laid awake at night after watching the film but could not pinpoint one thing. There is no lack of effort. They have to make sure as coaches they stress to the guys what they are supposed to do.

Sometimes they might stress going from Point A to Point B quickly so much that fundamentals suffer. They have to recognize where point B is.

Storm Klein played about eight snaps on defense and Curtis Grant was in for about 12 at middle linebacker.

They need to be aggressive, and they opened some things up last week with some blitzes. That gives the offense more to worry about rather than just setting up for the same thing every play.

He joked that he missed the best part of being a head coach because that comes in the offseason when they get to relax a little and go on sponsored trips and things like that. It was a great experience he will use when he gets another chance. You find out who has your back when you’re in charge like that.

Players sayeth: 

Defensive lineman Nathan Williams pointed out that almost all of the live reps he is getting are in the games, so he has a lot of catching up to do with guys who have been practicing since the beginning of August. He feels he is getting better every day. He practices against the scout team and in drills but not when the first teams go against each other.

His recovery time has been amazing so far. He entered the year thinking he would only play half of the season.

He did not feel he played too many plays against Cal and said people don’t need to worry about that. He was frustrated because the Bears usually ran away from him last week and he didn’t get many chances to be in the thick of things. He was just chasing the ball all day. He is up every morning at 4:30 to get ready to work out and continue to rehab.

Mike Vrabel has a different philosophy than former defensive line coach Jim Heacock, who was a big believer in playing a lot of guys. Vrabel brings a mentality from the NFL in which the best guys play.

His penalty last week (offsetting personal fouls when he got tangled up with a Cal running back) was in the heat of the moment, but he needs to keep his cool.

Those freshmen defensive linemen are behind in most areas, but they are getting better.

Offensive lineman Marcus Hall said line coach Ed Warinner is a high-energy guy who makes sure everyone is pumped up around him.

He feels like he is getting better every game but needs to eliminate mistakes such as missed assignments.

He is playing at about 15 pounds lighter than last year and feels much different.

There was a period of time he was worried if he would be able to continue his Ohio State career as he was sitting out a redshirt for academic reasons two years ago. He had to get back in the classroom and get focused. He would tell a high school recruit to think about more than just football. Getting an education is a serious deal.

He is not a new man, per se, but he has his priorities straight now. He appreciates everything much more after having to sit out that year.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier said UAB likes to take shots downfield and run to the boundary (short side of the field). The latter is something they have seen a lot and struggled with against Cal. As a result, they have moved around and changed some alignments with the defensive line and the linebackers. They are doing something to get the safety to help, too.

It is fun when they play an aggressive style. He wants to see the quarterback rattled.

The Buckeyes have a good mindset and won’t overlook UAB.

They can work on tackling without being truly full-go. They can hit and wrap without going to the ground. They did take guys to the ground a little more this week than usual during the season, though.

He should have wrapped up Bigelow on the 81-yard run, and he slipped and was out of position on the 59-yard run. The coaches said he had a good game, but he feels those things wiped it out.

Linebacker Etienne Sabino said he doesn’t mind the grueling “Bloody Tuesday” practices. That is football. It’s fun to hit. They’re sore from the game but get out there and get going anyway.

The team gets to split its Fridays with being focused and having fun now. They play games like home run derby, hot potato and shoot the football in a basket at the WHAC then go to the OSU Golf Course for their evening meal. It lightens the mood, then they go back to work (team meetings).

Saturday they get up around 7, go to walkthrough then have position meetings and it is time to go.

(Meyer said he picked this up from Sonny Lubick, head coach at Colorado State. He taught him the guys need to get some rest and can’t be too fired up. They call it “the best Friday in football”. He started it at Bowling Green. He wants practice to be terrible during the week then Friday and Saturday are “pay day”. He talks to each guy before they go to bed on Friday night.)

Running back Jordan Hall said he didn’t know he was going to carry it 17 times last week, but he had no problem with it. He felt like he left yards on the field when he tripped over linemen because he wasn’t picking up his feet.

I asked him if getting back a guy like Carlos could give him more chances to get out on the edge and operate in space, and he said it might surprise people but he likes to run between the tackles and being physical. He hopes getting some more reps will make it easier for him to see holes develop and what he needs to do with the ball when he gets it. He feels better with some more practice under his belt.

Wide receiver Devin Smith said the offense needs to be efficient. He didn’t have much reaction when asked if they feel any pressure being 38-point favorites.

UAB looks kind of like UCF on film. The Blazers have some talented guys.

The key to avoiding all the penalties that have held them back is staying focused. That is the message from Meyer. That is what they have been doing in practice. The staff has trained them to play with passion and play their hearts out.