Chip Kelly and Caleb Downs

Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘I’m gonna coach and then I’m gonna die’

A Football Guy

New Ohio State offensive coordinator Chip Kelly seemed to be having the time of his life as the Buckeyes opened spring practice on Tuesday. While the team warmed up with some stretching, he was walking through the line of players, joking with them, encouraging them, and smiling every step of the way.

Speaking with reporters after that first practice, Kelly was reminded that it’s pretty unusual to leave a head coaching job like UCLA for an offensive coordinator job like Ohio State. He agreed, but added that he does a lot of things that other coaches don’t do.

The prevailing thought from the outside was that Kelly was no longer as enthralled with everything that is required of a modern college football head coach, which is also why he was asked if he had ever thought of just quitting and not coaching.

“No, I never thought about quitting anything,” he said. “So, it was just is there an opportunity that fit? And that’s no different than when you’re talking to a recruit about they make a decision on where they’re gonna go to school. I think where they should go to school is where the best fit is for them. So, I just entertained some opportunities and I felt like this was the best fit.

“But I never thought about quitting or not coaching. I’m gonna coach. I’m gonna coach and then I’m gonna die. That’s how I think about things. I can’t picture that. I was on the Nike trip, and they were like, ‘How much longer are you gonna go?’ And I said, ‘I could go another 15-20 years.’ I don’t think about retirement. I don’t think about any of those things. That’s just not my mindset. I love football. And as long as I can be part of this game, I’ll be part of this game.”

Solid Foundation To Work With

One of the things that Chip Kelly is best known for is his ability to devise a devastating running game. That was the case when he was at Oregon, and it was the case for most of his time at UCLA.

Kelly’s offenses have been able to run with both power and speed. There has been deception but also brute force. And now the expectation is that he will be able to do the same for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have plenty for Kelly to work with. There are five mobile quarterbacks, a veteran offensive line, and over 6,000 career yards rushing between their top three running backs.

But it will all start with that offensive line, which stood out to him early on.

“I’ve been impressed just since I’ve been there the last couple of weeks with their athleticism, their attention to detail, and in their development as players,” he said.

The Buckeyes are not yet practicing in pads, so there’s only so much to glean from the offensive line. That will take place over the course of the next five weeks.

“To say on day one that I think our scheme is going to be this, this, or this, it’s kind of a work in progress as we start to get familiar with what the players’ skill sets are, and then what we can do, and it’s always a combination of what you have up front and then what you have out back,” Kelly said. “And I know we’ve got a couple of really talented running backs behind them.”

Kelly stressed, however, that whatever this offense becomes, it can’t afford to be one dimensional. Which is something that he has ironically been labeled in the past.

“You know, it’s funny, some people think I’m an air raid guy, some people think I’m a wing-T guy, some people think I want to run the ball every down,” he said. “We’re gonna do what’s best for Ohio State. And that’s kind of what our game plan is right now.”

Howard The Buck

As Ohio State’s new quarterbacks coach, Chip Kelly now has five scholarship quarterbacks in his room, as well as two walk-ons. As Ryan Day said last month, there’s more chairs in that room than there’s ever been.

One of those chairs is occupied by Kansas State transfer Will Howard, who spent four years in Manhattan and now has one final year of college football remaining.

Howard chose Ohio State over the NFL, but he’s already been professional in his approach at OSU according to Kelly.

“Yeah, really impressed. You don’t have to talk to Will for more than five minutes to know where he’s coming from,” Kelly said. “He’s really focused. He knows he’s got a short window left in his college career and really wants to capitalize on what that is. There’s a maturity to Will.”

That maturity has forged Howard’s approach at Ohio State.

“Some of the best players I’ve had an opportunity to coach were transfers,” Kelly said. “Sometimes when you’re a true freshman, and it’s five years out, you know, it’s like, ‘Hey, I got a ton of time.’ And sometimes when you’re a transfer it’s that, ‘I’ve got nine months.’ So there’s a sense of urgency when you’re dealing with transfers, and I think Will has exuded that since he’s been here.”

Howard hasn’t done that at the expense of being a good teammate. He has spent time with players on both sides of the ball, trying to get to know as many teammates as possible. He’s also done everything the coaches have asked of him.

“The other thing, just in the short time that Will’s been here, is how quickly he’s fit in with the entire team and how much the rest of the players respect him,” Kelly said. “He was one of the Gold award winners for his work in the weight room this offseason, so that says a lot for him coming in here in a short time being able to win a weight room award to start off.”

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