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The versatility of Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner has helped keep him on the field

The performance of Pete Werner this year has not only kept the linebacker on the field, but has pretty much scrapped plans for the Bullet position.

Maryland v Ohio State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

“He studies it, he asks good questions. He’s so locked in. He’s the type of guy you ream about coaching. It’s so important to him, and that makes it fun to be around.”

Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley on linebacker Pete Werner via Stephen Means,

Ohio State’s linebackers were a hot mess last year, but the same certainly can’t be said about the unit this season. While Malik Harrison and Baron Browning have been getting the headlines this year, just as important to the team has been Pete Werner. The play by Werner this year has been so impactful that the Buckeyes have all but abandoned their plans of using the hybrid linebacker-safety “Bullet” position that had been much talked about during the offseason.

The biggest area where Werner has excelled this season has been when he has been tasked with covering tight ends. A couple weeks against Penn State, Werner was able to keep one of the best tight ends of the country in check. Werner recorded 10 tackles against the Nittany Lions, holding Pat Freiermuth to six catches for just 40 yards. Last week against Michigan, Nick Eubanks caught just two passes for 42 yards.

Werner has been valuable for his versatility which allows him to play a number of positions. When on the field, most teams feel like they can exploit Werner, but often times Werner ends up getting the better of his opponents, and is currently tied for second on the team with 53 tackles. Werner and the Buckeyes have a tough task in trying to slow down Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor on Saturday night, but it wouldn’t be wise to bet against Werner.

Earlier this week, Mike Bobo and Colorado State parted ways, which could lead to Ohio State assistant head coach Tony Alford to take over as the next head coach in Fort Collins. Adding more fuel to the rumors is the report that Urban Meyer was recently in Fort Collins to try and campaign for Alford to be the next head coach of the Rams.

It’s easy to see why Alford would be a candidate to become the head coach at Colorado State. Since arriving in Columbus from Notre Dame in 2015, Alford has become one of the best recruiters in college football. Performance on the field hasn’t hurt Alford’s case either. Since coming to Ohio State as a running backs coach, the Buckeyes have had one of the top running games in the country.

While Alford’s attention is currently on Wisconsin and the Big Ten Championship Game, he could be a target for Colorado State because of his desire to coach in Fort Collins for a while. Other candidates like Jim Mora, Jim Leavitt, and Todd Graham could be looking at coaching the Rams to use it as a stepping stone to return to coaching at a Power 5 program. Even though Ohio State fans would hate to lose a talent like Alford, it would be great to see what he could do when he is in control of a program.

“It’s a busy week. These guys with their finals have a lot going on. These guys realize that there’s some break right ahead of them, so there is a lot going through their minds, and our deal is we just kind of keep moving forward as usual and practice has been really good today and yesterday.”

Ohio State men’s hockey coach Steve Rohlik via Kyle Martin, The Lantern

After sweeping Michigan State last weekend, Ohio State has one more series left before the a winter break. This weekend the Buckeyes will host Minnesota to cap off the first half of the regular season. After two games this weekend against the Golden Gophers, Ohio State won’t be back on the ice until December 27th when they host Colgate.

The victories over the Spartans now has Ohio State on a three-game winning streak. Even though the Buckeyes were able to secure a couple victories last weekend, their power play didn’t play up to its usual high standards. Ohio State has the eighth-ranked power play in the country, converting 25 percent of its opportunities, but against the Spartans the power play was 0-11.

Despite the poor performance from the power play, Ohio State saw goaltender Tommy Nappier return to the net on Saturday after dealing with an injury. Nappier recorded 23 saves his first shutout of the season on Saturday, earning Big Ten Third Star of the Week honors. The Buckeyes are going to need Nappier to stay hot if they want to continue building momentum as they head into the Christmas break.