After the Buckeyes struggled defensively in their first two games, including a Week 2 loss to Oregon, head coach Ryan Day stripped Coombs of his playcalling duties and moved the veteran assistant upstairs to the booth.
Day tabbed secondary coach Matt Barnes as the new defensive play caller, a job he has held ever since. Ohio State has surrendered only 57 points in four games with Barnes in that role, albeit against Tulsa, Akron, Rutgers and Maryland.
Speaking with reporters this afternoon for the first time since being demoted, Coombs admitted this has been “the hardest stretch” of his coaching career but vowed to be there to help support the players all season long.
Kerry Coombs is as fired up as I've ever seen him in a press conference: “I'm going to be fighting and scratching and clawing for the rest of the season to try to help us win every Saturday.”
— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 12, 2021
While he may no longer be calling the defensive plays during games, Coombs’ work preparing the unit has not gone unnoticed. He was given the game ball after last week’s 66-17 win over Maryland in which the Buckeyes held the Terrapins to 335 yards of total offense and intercepted Taulia Tagovailoa twice.
Coombs said he felt “undeserving” and “shocked” to receive the honor but expressed no loss in confidence in his ability to do his job.
#Buckeyes defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs impressive in discussing adjustment after play-calling duties taken away. Really cares about the program. Coombs got the game ball after the Maryland win. Called it "undeserving."
"I love those kids and I'm going to fight for them."
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 12, 2021
After a bye week this Saturday, Ohio State returns to Big Ten action at Indiana on October 23. The following weekend, the Buckeyes have a showdown at home against Penn State, which will be the next big test for this defense.