Tag Archives: Tim Hinton

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: Central Florida

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

URBANISMS

Ohio State’s head coach started out by thanking fans for their part in the Buckeyes’ 56-10 win over Miami last week.

He then went over what is apparently going to be a weekly routine of reviewing how they did in regards to the Plan To Win and who graded out with a “champion” effort.

The defense was not great, but it was very good for three quarters. He appreciated finishing plus-3 in the turnover battle but was very disappointed in the red zone numbers. That was a black mark on the game.

The kicking game made all of its goals and produced a touchdown, and he was content with third down production and field position.

(See BuckeyeSports.com for champions/players of the week.)

He has a great respect for UCF and head coach George O’Leary, who has has known for a long time. They have big defensive tackles, a big athletic quarterback and ran power plays at Akron all night last week.

It will be a much different look from last week when Ohio State played pass-happy Miami, but the players should be able to familiarize themselves with it because they can load the film up on iPads and watch it wherever they want.

Braxton Miller’s passing was positive with room for improvement against the RedHawks. He suffered from a couple of drops early and jerked a couple of passes. When he keeps it smooth, he can really throw it, but he has to stay calm. They need him to get through some growing pains fast.

He wasn’t too concerned with the slow start because the team was playing hard. They just had to make some adjustments.

Meyer is glad to have the first game out of the way because there are a lot of little administrative things people worry about when they haven’t done them before.

He was pleased to see his team get thrown around a little bit on their home field in the opener and liked how they responded.

Asked about Miller becoming a Heisman candidate, he said, “Oh gosh…” then pointed out the grueling Tuesday practices have a way of humbling people when those types of things come up.

The failed goal-line package will likely be adjusted, but he still wants to see that his team is able to line up and blow teams off the ball when they need to. Someone missed a block on the failed run at the end of the first half.

It is too early to tell if this is a self-motivating team, but there are several guys who can get themselves up and going. That includes Johnny Simon (of course).

He felt good about the way the offensive staff meshed in its first time together in a real game.

Nathan Williams played about 30 snaps, more than they expected because of the looks they got from Miami that led them to use a package that had the Leo/Viper dropping into coverage a lot. They preferred to have him do that over freshman Noah Spence.

Miami schemed up their defense pretty well against the Buckeyes’ base offense, but OSU was able to make some plays once it adjusted to a different formation. He was happy to see the staff recognize that and adjust quickly.

He sees Miller and running back Carlos Hyde as guys who can make big plays. Now perhaps Devin Smith can join that group since he’s made one in a game.

Asked what was holding Smith back before, Meyer said he plays like a young player in a new offense sometimes. Running track took him away from the team some in the spring, too. Wide receiver is tough in Meyer’s offense. It requires a lot of knowledge and activity (including blocking).

He hopes the one-handed TD grab can be an “ignition play” for Smith’s career. It was a bigger play than the game-winning touchdown against Wisconsin last season when he just kind of wandered open and had the ball drop into his hands after Miller found him on a scramble.

He talks to the offensive staff between series – not during – to give his input on what they should call. He listens over the headset and interjects if he wants them to run something like a power play or a counter or to go deep. In the hurry-up offense, they script plays between series rather than between plays. Herman has a lot of freedom to do what he wants.

Someone asked if Braxton is comfortable pitching on the option, and Meyer said he is better going to his right, but he can go either way.

Walk-on Craig Cataline is a great story. He was in the Navy and has joined the team as a walk-on. Meyer said he loves him. He gives a championship effort all the time and is valuable. Tough as nails, committed and goes 100 mile per hour all the time. The players love him, and he is one guy who will go after John Simon.

Asked if the pass rush needs to improve, he said Miami was doing a good job of getting the ball out quickly. The RedHawks had an “A” game plan as far as he is concerned. They wanted to avoid Johnathan Hankins in the middle so they went away from him. Part of the reason there wasn’t more pressure on the passer was they chose to drop eight into coverage a lot. The defense got more aggressive as they went and were playing with a lead.

Central Florida will bring a physical challenge on defense. They have massive tackles. Ohio State will try to wear them out with the no-huddle, hurry-up offense.

UCF is talented and will run power plays right at the defense.

Miller has some ball security issues to take care of, but he is much better than last year in that department. He missed a few reads on the zone/inverted veer, but they will work on it.

Devin Smith might have been limited in his development because he was splitting time between football and track. That was a deal worked out while he was being recruited and Meyer didn’t want to take it away. It is difficult to balance the two. They will re-evaluate that in the spring.

He felt good about how the quarterbacks reacted to things against Miami.

ASSISTANTS ADDED:

Tight ends/fullbacks coach Tim Hinton

Zach Boren is really excited about getting to carry the ball and score a touchdown last week. It took him some time to get into the flow. He had a dropped pass early but came back from it. There is lots to improve upon.

He agreed with Meyer that the coaching staff meshed well for a first game.

The struggles on the goal line are about mentality as much as anything. Meyer has worked hard to sell people about the physical aspect of the offense, and they want to follow through.

The off-tackle power play has been run at Ohio State for 30-40 years (longer, probably), but it was not executed well on Saturday.

When things were not going well on Saturday, Meyer acted like a guy who has been there before. He didn’t panic or go around yelling and screaming. He really knows what he is doing in terms of the scheme.

The offense was close to getting it on some early plays, but usually it won’t work unless all 11 guys do their jobs and execute. The structure of what they were doing was always fine. Calls were solid. Defense was similar to what they expected to see. They had to get some jitters out.

The offense can be explosive, and when they grabbed momentum, they kept ahold of it. All kinds of different things can create momentum. You could write books about that, but whatever it is you can sense when it is happening. Smith’s touchdown grab was a catalyst, then Miller added the touchdown run in the third quarter to get it going again.

UCF is not overly complicated on defense. They know their defense well and are very sound and fundamental in what they do within it. They want to keep the ball inside and in front of them. Of course, there will probably be some wrinkles, too, an they have a new coordinator.

The OSU tight ends were good against Miami. That included Jake Stoneburner playing attached to the line of scrimmage more than expected. Jeff Heuerman had a good day blocking.

Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel

The opener was a good day for Nathan Williams to gain confidence in his knee. They needed him at the Leo position with Miami going with so many empty sets on offense. He was sore after the game, but that’s OK.

They were surprised not to have Mike Bennett as he was expecting to play but injured his groin in warmups. They have the bodies to make due, but they are young so the key is how they handle it mentally.

Freshman Noah Spence, Tommy Schutt and Adolphus Washington showed well. Schutt is physical and can handle double teams. Washington shows flashes but gets lost sometimes.

Asked how his friend Luke Fickell handled being head coach on an interim basis last year, Vrabel said he did as well as he could given the situation. A lot goes into that job.

Williams got a double minus on a play in the first quarter where he missed a sack because he also dropped an assignment by letting the running back go uncovered in the flat.

They’ll have to play sound against the run on early downs against UCF to earn the right to rush the passer.

He has not had time to stop and reflect on his impending induction into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, but it is an exciting time. The list is impressive because it includes all Buckeye sports, and he is proud to make it. One of his kids will stand in for him when they recognize him during halftime of the game. Everything since his career ended feels like a blur since he played every year until last year, when he jumped right into coaching.

He appreciated how the defensive stayed in the game against Miami despite all the passing. He could tell because Hankins was still pushing the pocket and working hard even though he wasn’t being threatened.

What they saw on film of UCF did not resemble what they did last season, but they will load up guys with film of both so they can be familiar with it. Some of them like being able to take the video with them on iPads while others like to go to the room and watch it the old fashioned way.

Players sayeth:

Braxton Miller said the offense needs to come out faster and with more urgency this week.

He didn’t realize how many times he ran the ball last week, but he was fine with it. He will do whatever the coaches ask. He didn’t feel sore after the game. He felt good.

He was not thinking about the possibility of winning a Big Ten division title. They are more worried about the next game on the schedule.

UCF has good athletes and will cover the receivers well. The Buckeyes need to conquer what UCF may do.

He was asked before they switched the type of football they use, but this one gets slippery sometimes. He’s cool with it anyway.

The play in which he just flipped the ball into the air while being pressured and was called for intentional grounding was a mistake and something to learn from.

He can improve throwing the ball. He was going too fast through his reads sometimes last week. He needs to stay calm.

Miller shrugged off a question about being an early season Heisman candidate.

Evan Spencer said he as a wide receiver has a good connection with Miller the quarterback. If Braxton tips his shoulder, it means to go deep. He can also tell when Miller is going to pull the ball down and run.

He joked that Devin Smith told him he figured last year was Spencer’s year for the one-handed catch and this year is Smith’s. They don’t think about when they are going to use only one hand. It just happens naturally.

Tuesday’s practice was not fun. The weather was sticky and there was a lot of stuff to correct from the game.

He could tell the defense was getting tired in the game, but that doesn’t affect how the offense approaches it. They try to stay focused and keep doing things well and with a fast tempo.

Travis Howard said he sees good athletes on the UCF squad, including an All-America caliber return man (Rannell Hall).

The Buckeyes know they have to be excellent on special teams.

They expect a lot of runs as well as short passes from the Knights.