Ohio State finished the 2017 season in Arlington, Texas, ending the season with a 24-7 win over USC in the 2017 Cotton Bowl Classic.
In the first road game of the 2018 season, the Buckeyes will return to AT&T Stadium to take on No. 15 TCU.
In his weekly press conference, acting head coach Ryan Day said his approach for the first road game of the season is not the same as any neutral-site match-up. He said Ohio State is looking at this as a true road game, facing a team that usually plays 18 miles away.
Day said many on Ohio State’s roster will have some sort of familiarity with AT&T Stadium, just with the experience the team had preparing for the 2017 Cotton Bowl. However, to him, that is just a minor advantage Ohio State could have against a TCU team that is close to home.
“At the end of the day, it just comes down to going in to play,” Day said. “Obviously a beautiful stadium and they will have a great crowd, so it will be a hostile crowd.”
Ohio State not only has to prepare for what the coaching staff considers a hostile road environment for the first time this season, but also preparing for a ranked opponent in that environment.
With head coach Urban Meyer still facing the final game of his suspension, Day said the offensive play call sheets will continue to be made with Meyer during the week prior to the game on Saturday.
However, Day said he is not preparing a new offense for TCU.
“We are going to be who we are and do what we are. I think when you start to stray and focus on other things, like it being a big game, that’s when you get distracted. We’ve got to focus on us and if we play the way that we know we can play, then that’s going to give us the best chance to win.”
Day said the level of competition that Ohio State will face on Saturday just comes with the job, having the expectation to bring the team’s “A-game” every week.
“If you don’t think it’s a big game, try losing it, you know,” Day said. “So they are all big, and you’ve got to play hard. Every game you’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to be prepared and do a great job.”
Safety rotation continues with the return of Jordan Fuller
After missing the first game of the 2018 season against Oregon State with a hamstring injury, junior safety Jordan Fuller returned to the Ohio State defense on Saturday against Rutgers.
Recording three tackles and one pass break-up, Fuller helped the Buckeyes pass defense to allow 65 yards, forcing two interceptions against Rutgers.
Even Fuller’s presence in the backfield was huge for Ohio State, according to defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Describing Fuller as an athlete with good anticipation and vision in Monday’s press conference, Schiano said his versatility and different attributes are very vital to the success of the Ohio State secondary as a whole.
“Jordan would be good whatever he did,” Schiano said. “He came here as a corner. He could play corner. He’s got that kind of coverage skills. He could play receiver and he was a quarterback in high school. He has a real good spatial awareness and he’s a good tackler.”
Schiano said the starting safety spot next to Fuller is still an ongoing battle, saying that the players battling for playing time are “young.” The defensive coordinator said he was encouraged by the play of sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor, but said he is still young and needs more reps. He also said redshirt freshman cornerback Shaun Wade, who had played nickel safety for Ohio State on Saturday, “is getting better and better.”
Even with the performances from Wade, Pryor and redshirt sophomore Jahsen Wint, Schiano is still not ready to name a full-time starter at the position opposite Fuller.
“They are all the same age, so we’re going to keep that thing going for a bit and see if one of them can pull away,” Schiano said.
Schiano has made it clear in the past he believes in his linebacker depth, saying Monday he will play more than three starting linebackers because, “I think we have more than three linebackers.”
With redshirt sophomore Tuf Borland receiving more playing time as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury, Schiano was asked about the split of playing time between Borland and sophomore Baron Browning, who had been starting for Ohio State in the middle.
Schiano said both linebackers have improved, but both will continue to split playing time as Borland continues to recover and Browning, in the words of Schiano, continues to get his feet underneath him at the position.
However, both players bring a unique playing style to the middle linebacker position, something Schiano said he will continue to utilize in the rotation.
“Tuf has got just such a sense for the football,” Schiano said. “He seems to be around the ball all the time, and Baron has an unbelievable ability to cover ground. If you look at him, for a big man, or for anybody, he runs extremely well.”