Ohio State defensive co-coordinator Greg Mattison will have a new vantage point in 2020

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State defensive co-coordinator Greg Mattison will work from the press box this week for the Buckeyes' opener against Nebraska.

Defensive co-coordinator Greg Mattison will be in an unfamiliar place when Ohio State opens its season Saturday against Nebraska.

For the past three decades of his coaching career, Mattison has spent game days on the field with his players. This year, he will coach from the booth at press box level.

“It’s going to be interesting because I think the last time I was upstairs was in 1990 when I was at Texas A&M,” Mattison said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters.

He believes it’s the right place for him to be. Mattison works with the strong-side linebackers but doesn’t coach a specific position group.

“The interaction with the players has always been something I've really, really enjoyed,” Mattison said. “But what happens when we have a whole staff of guys that do that, sometimes too many doing that isn't good.

“I just felt the best thing for us was for me to be in the box. I think I can help this defense more being there. And we've got plenty of guys down there that are enthusiastic and are with their guys.”

Mattison was co-coordinator last year with Jeff Hafley, who left to become head coach at Boston College. Coach Ryan Day lured former OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs back from the Tennessee Titans to become defensive coordinator.

Mattison said the transition with Coombs in charge has gone smoothly. Mattison’s specialty has always been working with the front seven. Coombs’ background is in the secondary. Mattison said defensive line coach Larry Johnson, linebackers coach Al Washington and safeties coach Matt Barnes all have input.

“The thing I think makes this group special is there are no egos,” Mattison said. “It doesn't matter who runs what, who does what. The bottom line is, let's play great defense. And if we play great defense, Ohio State will have another great year. That's always been my belief, and I know that’s everybody else's on the staff.”

Backfield by committee

Coach Ryan Day said he doesn’t know exactly how snaps will be distributed among the running backs, but he doesn’t expect one player to take almost all the reps.

“I don’t know how it’s going to shake (out),” he said.

Day doesn’t seem particularly worried about it because he has confidence in that group.

“All the running backs have looked very good,” Day said. “They're starting to really run with their pads down over the last week. I think that was a huge emphasis point going into last week, and I think they've all done that.”

At 6 feet 1, Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon acknowledged earlier this month that running too upright has been an issue in his career.

Sermon and Master Teague III are expected to get the bulk of the carries. Teague appears to have fully recovered from an Achilles injury sustained on the first day of spring practice. Day said Teague would have been ready to play against Oregon on Sept. 12 if the Buckeyes had played their original schedule.

“He's done everything we've asked and more,” Day said of Teague’s rehab. “Really excited for him, that he's going to be able to play a strong season. We’re expecting big things from him. He's practiced really, really well, and he's a huge part of our offense right now.”