“I wasn’t ecstatic about it, but I was like, OK, they have (established) corners already here.”
Change is never easy, so when Ohio State’s coaches approached Jordan Fuller about moving from corner to safety last year, the freshman wasn’t exactly thrilled with the possible change. It’s easy to see why the Buckeyes wanted to move to safety though, with the surplus at talent Ohio State not only had last year at cornerback, but also with the talented recruits at cornerback they had coming in over the next few years.
So far the decision to move Fuller from cornerback to safety is paying off in spades for both Fuller and the Buckeyes. After Malik Hooker left for the NFL following last season, Fuller beat out Erick Smith for the starting spot opposite Damon Webb. Fuller isn’t making the coaches regret that decision, as evidenced by his performance against Nebraska, where he was named Ohio State’s defensive player of the game.
How fall along Fuller is in his progress at safety will be tested over the next month, when the Buckeyes enter the toughest part of their schedule. Next week Ohio State hosts Penn State, and Ohio State is going to need Fuller to continue playing at a high level if the Buckeyes have any hope of taking down the Nittany Lions and staying in the College Football Playoff race.
“If you look at the last six years, there’s been steady improvement from game one through game five (or) six. And the key to the championship year in ‘14 and a couple of good years we’ve had is that when you get the big games, the offense continues to perform. Last year, that did not happen.”
After Ohio State’s loss to Oklahoma in early September, many Buckeye fans were ready to toss aside J.T. Barrett and see the Ohio State offense start fresh. Since the loss, Barrett has regained the confidence of his coaches, teammates, and fans, as Ohio State has had little trouble during a five-game winning streak.
The competition Ohio State has been playing during their winning streak hasn’t been very challenging, but the fact that the Buckeyes have destroyed those in their path since the loss to the Sooners is encouraging. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has seen the Buckeyes practicing better since the Oklahoma loss, and he feels that is a big reason why Ohio State has been playing so well.
When Ohio State took on Oklahoma early in the year, not only was Wilson still trying to find out what works best in his first season with the Buckeyes, but Barrett wasn’t on the same page with his receivers. Since the loss, Barrett has put up some huge numbers, and you can see how he is a lot more comfortable with those he is throwing the football to.
The Buckeyes have their bye week this week to prepare for Penn State, and Meyer feels like his team is rounding into shape at just the right time. Following the game with the Nittany Lions, Ohio State also has tough contests with Michigan State, Iowa, and Michigan left in the regular season, along with a possible Big Ten title game. At least Ohio State is where Meyer thinks his team should be as they enter the hardest part of their schedule.
“Everybody’s pushing everybody. You can’t take one second off. It’s like our motto is, it’s next man up, so you got to be on your toes every day, every second. But I wouldn’t say it’s like a competition as far as the guys who are working. It’s like all right, come on. I’m going to do this, you’re going to do this, we’re going to try to get better together.”
Ohio State’s offensive line took a hit a few weeks ago when they lost Branden Bowen for the season to a leg injury he suffered against Maryland, but so far the Buckeyes haven’t showed the effects of the loss of Bowen. The reason Ohio State’s offensive line didn’t miss a beat against Nebraska was because of the performance of junior right guard Demetrius Knox.
Following the injury to Bowen, Matthew Burrell finished out the rest of the game at right guard, but Knox was able to win the open competition in practice last week ahead of the game in Lincoln, Neb., against the Cornhuskers. Head coach Urban Meyer graded Knox as a champion following the game for his performance.
Knox can’t rest too easy on his performance against Nebraska though, as both Burrell and Malcolm Pridgeon are going to push Knox the rest of the year. Hopefully the competition in practice will help Knox to only improve the rest of the year, and allow the Buckeyes to continue to rack up big numbers on offense.
“Our team has no quit and we’ll continue to play hard in every single game. I have no doubt we will show up against Michigan Saturday night and play as hard as they can.”
After a hot start to the season, Ohio State has cooled off more than the weather at night lately here in Columbus. The Buckeyes fell to Syracuse 2-1 last night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, extending their losing streak to five games. Ohio State and Syracuse went into halftime tied at one, but a goal by the Orange less than five minutes in the second half proved to be the difference.
Now Ohio State will have to rebound quickly if they want to build any momentum for the Big Ten Tournament. On Saturday night the Buckeyes host Michigan, and following the fixture with the Wolverines, Ohio State only has matches against Kentucky and Wisconsin left next week before the end of the regular season. With Michigan and Wisconsin just ahead of Ohio State in the conference standings, this next week and a half will be critical for the Buckeyes.
STICK TO SPORTS
- The Circleville Pumpkin Festival kicked off yesterday.
- Highball Halloween kicks off on Friday in the Short North.
- An organic brewery is coming to Grandview in 2018.
- A California restaurant was caught serving customers Popeye’s chicken.
- Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, passed away on Wednesday after battling brain cancer.