While Kevin Wilson was brought to Ohio State in the offseason to fix a broken offense, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano faces a different challenge.
He has to maintain a standard of excellence.
Ohio State was sixth in the nation in total defense and third in scoring defense in 2016 despite having to replace eight starters.
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This year, the secondary needs another overhaul, but the front seven is overloaded with experienced players.
Two of the biggest questions facing the Silver Bullets this season revolve around Schiano, who helps oversea the secondary with Kerry Coombs and is now the defensive coordinator following the departure of Luke Fickell.
“Other than different people in the room, it really isn’t different because I work with three really experienced coaches,” Schiano said, referring to Coombs, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Billy Davis. “I did the same last year with Luke being here, and now Billy fills his spot.”
Like Fickell before him (and Fickell’s predecessor, Jim Heacock), Schiano insisted the defensive staff does everything as one.
“We’re collaborative with everything,” Schiano said. “We discuss everything, and then on game day we know what we’re going to call. We run our stuff, but it truly is a collaborative effort.
Somebody has to be there to make sure everything gets done, and if there is a discussion to kind of mediate and help them come to the best conclusion, but I’m blessed. I work with three real pros.”
As far as personnel, Damon Webb returns at one safety spot but the other three starting roles were vacated by players who were chosen in the first round of the NFL draft in April.
Schiano said he considers cornerback Denzel Ward a returning starter as well based on how much he played last season.
One factor will determine who is on the field for the season-opener at Indiana.
“We’re gonna play the guys we trust to get the job done the best,” Schiano said. “Sometimes you’re on a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth and you’re not sure either one but you do your best. Here it’s the opposite. We have some really fine players. Who goes in the game first is the guy you trust the most to do it. Who goes in second is the guy you trust the second most.”