Kerry Coombs: 'If it doesn't make you sick to your stomach, you won't play'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday April 21, 2017

Do you put any stock in a spring game? Most coaches will tell you no, or downplay it. Well, Kerry Coombs does the opposite.

Coombs says his cornerback group this year is the deepest he’s ever had, and the spring game was a huge part of evaluation. With a sold out crowd last weekend, it’s a game-like experience you can’t duplicate.

“I put a lot of stock into it. It’s 80,000 people. The ball is being thrown deep, and your guy can’t catch it. If he does, that’s a problem,” Coombs said. “What I shared with players after the game is this: That is one of the most valuable experiences they can have — to understand how awful it feels to give up a touchdown in Ohio Stadium. It’s the worst feeling, and it should be. If it doesn’t make you sick to your stomach, you’re not going to be able to play here.

“The fact they’re able to experience that without it counting in a real game was phenomenal. What our offense did in the course of 15 days, the pressure they put on those kids with deep throws is experience they can’t get again. We won’t be able to replicate that all fall. This, for those young players, was just a fantastic spring camp.”

A year ago, Ohio State had the fewest returning starters in the country, and they still reached the playoff. The Buckeyes return 15 starters this year, including seven on defense.

From now until summer, it’s about what players do on their own, and Coombs explained what exactly the coaches give them to self-evaluate.

Every player has a file folder of every single play he participated in all spring long. He knows the positives and negatives of what he’s done,” Coombs said. “He has the opportunity to review that. We’re not allowed to coach them, but they’re allowed to work.

“When we get back in the summer, get a couple hours a week with them, we have a good basis of understanding on the part of all those kids. The young kids and new starters, that was invaluable experience for them. Then you’ve got veterans. The defensive line is no joke. They’re learning new techniques, continuing to improve, and they’re going to be a dominant force in the fall.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to