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February 5, 2014

Kerry Coombs

Q.  The majority of this class committed to you guys, you guys have had this assembled for quite some time.  You guys were often undefeated season, had won the first nine, ten games of this year.  Kind of seemed like everything was rolling.  But how do you think the responsibility has changed now for this group to prop you guys back up after some tough losses at the end of the year to get Ohio State back on track?
COACH COOMBS:  Responsibility with which group.  I'm not sure I understand the question.

Q.  To bring it in now.
COACH COOMBS:  Their job is simple.  Their job is to prepare to play for Ohio State in a very, very short period of time.  And that's their only job.  We've been around visiting doing home visits with these guys, making sure they understand their expectation of themselves, because it is what our expectation is, is that they come in prepared to play this fall.
So how do they get that done.  When I'm talking with Damon Webb, I'm talking with him about, well, make sure you understand what Doran Grant and Gareon Conley and those guys are doing at Ohio State right now so you can emulate as much of that as you can on your own.  So when you're in June you're in the best possible shape to play in the fall.  I simply believe it's their job.
It's our job to assemble them into what we hope is another fantastic season.  But their job is to get themselves individually ready.  Now, the ones that are here, be a part of the team.  Raekwon and those guys be a part of the team, they're already doing that.  But the guys still in high school they've got to work right now to prepare themselves to be ready in the fall.

Q.  Your role is changing somewhat.  Could you describe how that came to be, what you think about it?
COACH COOMBS:  I don't know that my role is changing, as much as the style in which we're going to coach the back end is certainly going to be different.
I would tell you I embrace it completely.  What has to happen in any collective group or part of defense is that everybody's gotta be understanding what everybody's doing at all times.
I don't think we function very well in isolation.  And so one of the things that Coach Meyer and I talked about almost immediately after the season was installation of pass coverage, concepts and communication, having one voice.  And that that would be very important to everybody in the back end.
What I would tell you is that Chris and I are going to function as a team in the back end.  We will have one voice.  We both may be saying it but we'll be saying the same thing so that when we meet together, when we coach together, when we're practicing together, we're all using the same terms, the same phrases, the same words, coaching things, and I don't know the same style, I haven't been able to watch Chris coach I don't know his style yet but using all of the same language and verbiage out there.  And I think that's very important.

Q.  In terms of how he'll fit in the room along with Larry?
COACH COOMBS:  Absolutely.  We're spending a lot of time together right now since we just got back off the road.  So these past three days and actually Chris and I met on the last two weekends to begin to have a lot of conversation.  He's going to fit in phenomenally well.  And so is Larry.  They are different men and different personalities than the guys they're replacing, but they bring a different experience, which I think I was talking with my guys today about the fact that these transitions and these experiences are very positive for all of us.  Nobody has the market cornered on the knowledge of the game of football.
So we're getting an opportunity to learn from two more guys who have been successful at other places in the manner in which they do their business.  That's a real positive for the Ohio State Buckeyes.  We've lost guys that have left us things and we're gaining guys that are bringing us more things.  So to me that's a great thing for all of us.

Q.  I don't want to put words in your mouth, are you saying is there a communication gap in the back end of the defense between the coaches last year?
COACH COOMBS:  No, not at all.  Everett and I work well together.  What I'm saying is our style of teaching in separate rooms at times and things like that can lend itself to separate communication points.  And I believe very strongly that those things, the more you can do things in a group setting, the better off you're going to be.
And so our approach, Chris and I will work together to make that happen and there will be times when we will be working right half and left half.¬† And at times we'll be working corners and safeties, and at times we'll be functioning with four guys doing things together so that there's‑‑ we've talked with our players about this.¬† I would think they would tell you the same thing, that all of that will lead, I think, to greater communication, which should be our objective going forward.

Q.  How under the gun are assistant coaches right now here in terms of development of players?  Obviously it's a big part of what you guys do, but Urban mentioned several times today in terms of the development of players.  Is that a point of emphasis right now that you guys, there's some players out there that you guys have to develop on this roster?
COACH COOMBS:  Well, I don't think there's any question at this time of year that's exactly what we're doing.  We just got done with recruiting.  We come back off the road from recruiting, and there's this month of February that coach Marotti is calling Buckeye Maker Month there's a lot of different things going on there leading into spring ball.  That's really what coaching is all about.  You go get those great players from all around the country, and now that they're here, you develop them and every player on our roster, whether it's our Heisman candidate quarterback or the freshman left guard can get better at what they do.
All of us can.  And so we're all going to function at a very high level on player development over from now until the foot hits the ball for the first game.

Q.  Can you explain what you think is going to be different fundamentally about this defense next season compared to this past season or the past two seasons?
COACH COOMBS:  I don't want to speak out of turn.  I don't know that that's necessarily my role.  What I would say is that we are going to change our style of play.  We're bringing in a couple of guys who have done things differently and so that brings in knowledge to our room defensively.  Coach Meyer has great thoughts and inputs about what he wants to see and so those are things that we're going to be implementing throughout spring.
I think when you come to practice, you'll see those things.  Again, I don't know that it's my place to speak about specifics.  But, yeah, I think there will be fundamental change across the board.

Q.  When you say change of style, that obviously means change of style means, what, more aggressive?  What does that mean?
COACH COOMBS:¬† Yeah, I would think you would see a more aggressive style of play across the board from alignment to attack and so forth.¬† And again I don't know that I‑‑ I don't want to speak out of turn.¬† But I would say absolutely that would be the desire on everybody's part.

Q.  I don't want to go back over chapter and verse what happened in the Bowl game looked like guys who didn't play a lot were put in tough positions, big receivers with a lot of experience that made plays.  Just from a teaching standpoint as you went back over that with these guys you have to win with this upcoming season, what were the things that maybe they didn't do in some cases not looking back for the ball?  What were they taught?  What went wrong in those situations?
COACH COOMBS:  What I would say is all five secondary players were playing in new spots, which was a unique experience that sometimes happens based on alignment and injuries and all of the things that can take place in the course of a season.  I think that there were tough plays made by a very good offense, and I think our kids will learn and grow from that.  I also think there were positives that came out of that game for our kids.
So our job is to correct mistakes, to develop players, and to move forward with a difference in our approach and I think our kids are excited about that.  In fact, I know they're excited about that.  I would expect that they're going to play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.

Q.  Will your role as special teams change at all?  And more emphasis on special teams for you, will that be what it was?
COACH COOMBS:  I don't think that will dramatically change.  Obviously we're going to look to improve in those areas.  We saw great improvement across the board but there's still a lot of work to be done on special teams.  Coach Meyers incredibly involved on special teams as you all know.  Great emphasis for our entire team and coaching staff.  I would expect that we're going to continue.  We're working right now on the improvements we're going to make in the four running teams for next year.
Obviously there's player development that has to take place there as well, with new kicker coming in.  And so there are things we're going to improve on.  And we're examining all four running teams, how we will change and improve our schemes across the board.
So I don't know how much more or less there will be.  I think we're all in this whole thing together.  I really do.

Q.  Have you looked at going into spring ball, the corner spot opposite Doran, what's that competition like?  Is Cam Burrows still the corner guy or safety or nickel now?
COACH COOMBS:  He'll be playing some nickel.  Playing some safety.  There will be some changes.  The competition I would tell you is wide open.  You've got to perform to play.  And I think that the expectation on the part of every player on this football team is you gotta show up every day and you've got to perform in order to play in the fall.  We're going to work really hard on finding those guys who can compete and who will challenge in tough situations.  So whether they're incoming freshmen, whether obviously redshirt freshmen or experience kids.

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