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BuckIQ: Talent, experience won’t be problem for Ohio State secondary

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Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller will be key to the effort in the secondary for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

BuckIQ: Talent, experience won’t be problem for Ohio State secondary

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State secondary didn’t meet the program standard last season, there’s no denying that.

But there is no reason whatsoever that those same Buckeyes can’t get right back to it this year.

There might not be any defensive backfields in the country who can match the talent Ohio State has assembled on the recruiting trail over the last few cycles. On top of that, there are veterans who have shown the ability to play at a championship level, even if they haven’t always done it consistently. Physically, the testing remains off the charts for the cornerbacks and safeties in the program.

None of that is a secret to new co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. All he has to do now is help the Buckeyes tap into that immense potential.

“Confidence,” Hafley said. “I think if you look, I wanted them to play confident and I wanted them to have fun. Yeah, we have got to work hard, we do, and they are going to work hard. We had to get better fundamentally, and I think that we did. Schematically, they had to learn what we were doing. We didn’t do a lot — we have to walk before we can learn to run, but then I wanted them to play together, to be confident and to have fun doing it.

“Towards the end [of spring camp], you saw that. I think if you ask some of the guys, they will tell you that. It is still a game and those guys have got to have fun. When they are doing that, with the technique and ability, and do it together, we are going to be pretty good.”

Ohio State won’t accept anything else. And digging through all of the BuckIQ film breakdowns on the secondary since the end of last season, there is plenty of evidence that the program can get what it needs.

Jeff Hafley-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley is looking to lead a resurgence with the Buckeyes in the secondary. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Damon Arnette

At his best, Damon Arnette can be a true asset for the Buckeyes. What is it going to take for him to take that next step and become an elite cornerback? What are realistic expectations for him heading into his final season with Ohio State? How often might he get his hands on the football? Former Ohio State and NFL defensive back Chimdi Chekwa was back in the Lettermen Row film lab breaking down the film to find some answers in the latest episode of BuckIQ.

Jeffrey Okudah

What makes Jeffrey Okudah so dangerous in the secondary? How could tweaking the approach for defensive backs help him take the next step? Will he be preparing for the NFL Draft at this time next year? Former Ohio State and NFL defensive back Chimdi Chekwa was back in the Lettermen Row film lab breaking down what Okudah is bringing to the table for the program in the latest episode of BuckIQ.

Brendon White

What’s the actual best way to use Brendon White? How can he take the next step? What fueled his emergence a year ago? Former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren returned to the Lettermen Row film lab to break down everything with White, both looking back at his productivity for the Big Ten champs and what his role might be moving forward in the latest episode of BuckIQ.

Jahsen Wint, Amir Riep

What helped those Ohio State defensive backs close out camp on a high note? How can the Buckeyes continue to improve to get the secondary back to the level the program expects? What should be taken away from that performance heading into the summer? Former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren returned to the Lettermen Row film lab to break it all down as the latest episode of BuckIQ breaks down the Silver Bullets.

Shaun Wade

Where does Shaun Wade fit best for the Buckeyes? What helps him stand out as a candidate for more playing time at Ohio State? How can he take the next step? Former Buckeyes cornerback Chimdi Chekwa popped into the Lettermen Row film lab to break down Shaun Wade and his play in the secondary in his first episode of BuckIQ.

Bryson Shaw

What makes Bryson Shaw a valuable addition for Ohio State? How high is the ceiling for his future with the Buckeyes? Can another former lacrosse player become a star for the program? Former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren put on the highlights from Shaw’s last year in high school to get a feel for what he brings to the Silver Bullets in the latest episode of BuckIQ.

Ronnie Hickman

Former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren returned to the Lettermen Row film room for National Early Signing Day and took a look at some highlight tape of four-star safety Ronnie Hickman to analyze what he brings to the Buckeyes.

Ohio State pass interference issues

Can the Buckeyes get their mistakes cleaned up in the defensive backfield? Was there a common thread in the plays that were producing pass interference calls? How good can Ohio State be in the secondary under Jeff Hafley? Former Buckeyes and NFL cornerback Chimdi Chekwa put on the film of the penalty-filled performance in the win over rival Michigan last season to take a closer look in the latest episode of BuckIQ.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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