"Ash wants to run a program. Ed Warinner, the offensive line coach who is taking more play-calling responsibilities this season with Herman’s departure, wants to run a program. They won’t jump for bad jobs, because when a team like Ohio State wins consistently, opportunities aren’t fleeting. They will be there."
When Ohio State wins, it also tends to lose—coaches, that is. The departure of offensive coordinator Tom Herman for Houston following the 2014 regular season is a case in point, and with continued success, many of Ohio State’s assistant coaches will have opportunities in the future to lead successful programs of their own.
"I hate losing great coaches, like I hate when a junior declares early [for the draft]," said head coach Urban Meyer during training camp last week. "But I also love it for them. That’s why we do it." In particular, Meyer noted that he loves that Herman is now leading his own program.
Co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash is a prime target for a head coaching position after the 2015 season, especially if that season involves another dominant defensive showing in a national championship for Ohio State. Ash is unique among the Buckeyes’ coaching staff in that he had no previous connection to the program or any of the coaches, having come to Ohio State by way of Wisconsin and Arkansas, both under head coach Brett Bielema. Offensive line coach Ed Warinner, who is in his fourth year with Ohio State, is another head coaching prospect come 2016.
This constant turnover, however, hasn’t necessarily been a problem in the past for other teams. For example, Nick Saban’s coaching staff for his third national championship at Alabama only included three of the coaches on the staff during his first national title. And Meyer is no stranger to assistants moving on to head coaching positions, with former staff members now leading programs at Boston College, Mississippi State, Marshall and North Texas. What has made Meyer’s teams constantly successful amidst all of this turnover, though, is the strength of his vision, allowing the members of his staff to bring their own ideas to the table and be successful, but always pulling in the same direction as a team.
"Ohio State is facing the same problem because they stole our defense, so there’s a lot of teams throughout the country, you go watch them, they are exactly us, whether they admit it or not, they are exactly us and they weren’t before."
Former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi claims that Ohio State stole Michigan State’s defense, which helped the Buckeyes win a national championship last season. With co-defensive coordinators Chris Ash and Luke Fickell, Ohio State adjusted their defensive scheme, which had failed against Michigan State and Clemson in the 2013 postseason, prior to the 2014 season. Ohio State finished last season ranked No. 19 in total defense (Michigan State was No. 8) after being ranked No. 47 in the 2013 season.
Narduzzi, who is entering his first season as the head coach at Pitt, noted that many teams are adopting different versions of the highly-successful 4-3 quarters scheme in order to better defend run-pass option plays. As more teams run a spread offense, defenses are learning better ways to defend, and consistently successful schemes, like Michigan State’s, are being imitated nationwide.
Of course, many teams have begun to adopt Michigan State’s style of defense, which itself is an adaptation of Tommy Tuberville’s scheme, run by the Miami Hurricanes. Tuberville’s defense, moreover, came from Jimmie Johnson’s system when he was coaching the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys. And now, chances are high that Narduzzi will further adapt Michigan State’s style of defense in his new role at Pitt.
The scheme is effective especially against the spread, which, Narduzzi says, Michigan State faced about 80 percent of the time last season. It helps to make the offense more one-dimensional, stopping the run and forcing a pass. That philosophy allowed Michigan State to hold Baylor to -20 yards rushing in the Cotton Bowl last year (albeit while allowing 600 yards passing). "When you make a team one dimensional, as I’ve said for eight years, you have a chance to win," said Narduzzi.
"The mindset this offseason really was the difference for me. Kind of for me, it was not necessarily a letdown, but not performing the way I should the past couple of years is something that’s always been stuck in the back of my head. And I really took it hard this offseason."
Senior defensive tackle Tommy Schutt has come a long way in a year. Last year, Urban Meyer was open about his disappointment with Schutt—a former four-star recruit, and Meyer’s first commitment after his hire as head coach at Ohio State—and his development as a lineman. Entering his final season as a Buckeye, Schutt is turning a corner in his coach’s eyes and making necessary improvements to his play. Meyer noted that Schutt has had a good camp, and is one of the top-five most improved players on the team. Schutt’s improvement has not just been in his defensive tactics. He has also lost about 15 pounds since last season, bringing him down to a more agile 290 lbs., right where defensive line coach Larry Johnson wants him and which, Schutt says, allows him to use more of his athletic ability.
Though Schutt drew accolades for his play in his backup role during his freshman season, a foot injury kept him sidelined during part of his sophomore season, and he spent his junior year in 2014 backing up Michael Bennett. Schutt noted that, while injuries played a part in preventing him from being at his best, he could have prepared himself better as a player. As he enters his senior season, Schutt is currently projected to start opposite Adolphus Washington on the defensive line. Along with teammates like Joey Bosa, Schutt has been held to a high standard on defense. He also says that he has learned a lot about preparation for games from Washington and Bosa, which he hopes to carry with him into the 2015 season.
"We knew we had to be strong on the ball to get inside their defense and it was that way all day. All we needed was one chance to go our way and luckily I was able to find the back of the net."
The Ohio State women’s soccer team opened up its season with two wins over the weekend, including a huge upset of No. 8 Florida in Columbus Sunday. The Buckeyes won in overtime with a final score of 1-0 on junior forward Nichelle Prince’s goal. Ohio State had a 9-6 shot advantage throughout the game. Florida is coming off an NCAA quarterfinals appearance in 2014, while Ohio State is rebounding from a disappointing 6-10-3 record last season.
The unranked Buckeyes also defeated Illinois State 6-2 in their season opener at Ohio State Friday, scoring twice in the first five minutes of play. Ohio State held a 14-7 shot advantage through the game.
This weekend was the first time the Ohio State women had ever faced Florida or Illinois State in soccer in the 23-year history of the program. The Buckeyes’ next game is scheduled for Thursday against Dayton.