As third-ranked Ohio State heads into their second home contest of the 2020 season—a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday night against Rutgers—the Buckeyes will be preparing for the return of a familiar face, turned foe.
Greg Schiano, former OSU defense coordinator from 2016-2018, is beginning his second head coaching stint at Rutgers this year. He previously coached the Scarlet Knights for a decade between 2001-2011, prior to serving as head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a pair of tumultuous seasons between 2012 and 2013, which resulted in an 11-21 record.
During Schiano’s tenure with OSU, their defense performed at an elite level in 2016–earning the nation’s No. 3 ranking unit in team defense. That was followed up with another strong performance in 2017 (where they ranked 15th), before the unit plunged to 53rd in 2018, although they finished that season as Rose Bowl champions.
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While the Buckeyes currently stand as 38-point favorites, the team’s matchup against a fierce defensive mind like Schianao may not be a walk in the park. And even though Schiano’s tenure at OSU ended before the transfer of standout QB Justin Fields, he knows current Head Coach Ryan Day and his offensive scheme well.
Day spoke about his relationship with Schiano at a Buckeye’s press conference this week. “First off all, when we first got here, just a lot of respect for the way he went about his business every day,” he said, “He was a huge help to me, just a great resource.”
And this isn’t just lip service and platitudes either, as the 1-1 Scarlet Knights knocked off the Michigan State Spartans in their opening game of the 2020 season, one week before MSU would travel to Ann Arbor and topple the then 13th-ranked Wolverines.
“When you look at the team, that first game, they beat Michigan State pretty soundly, so that’s significant right off the bat,” Day said. “And then when you watch them on both sides of the ball, they’re playing hard. He’s brought in some different talent in there and they’re playing with some energy. They’re playing tough; they’re playing smart.”
While Day was impressed with the Buckeyes running game and overall physicality in their win last week over Penn State, he stressed in a press conference this week that the team needs to eliminate costly penalties, and address lapses in their special teams play, including missed field goals.