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September 5, 2013

Slowing down to speed up

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Before Tyvis Powell could play fast, he had to slow down.

For the Ohio State safety and de facto nickelback, there might be two defining moments associated with that notion.

The first came when the former cornerback was redshirted before the start of last season.

The latter instance, however, is more recent.

After a five-tackle outing against Buffalo in the Buckeyes' season opener, Powell is turning heads as not only a player of the future but as somebody who can contribute now.

But this juncture might only have been made possible by the one that preceded it.

"Last year -- honestly -- I don't really know if I was ready to play in a game," Powell said Wednesday. "I didn't pick the game up as fast."

Now, Powell is building a niche himself on an Ohio State defense trying to replace seven starters.

And it's seem to have caught coach Urban Meyer's ever-wandering attention.

"He's a guy we're going to count on," he said. "I don't believe he graded a champion, but I believe he played pretty good for his first start ... first game action and he was in there a lot of plays."

So many, in fact, the purpose of Powell's redshirt might've finally come to fruition against the Bulls last weekend.

"You see the thing is, when I was out there, that's all I really thought about was my job," he said. "Like, do my job. What is my job for this play. What could they do? What could they possibly do me this play?"

It's a frame of mind that helped Powell remain focused amid a period of rather brief turbulence that was watching a 23-point lead dissipate after the game's first quarter.

What exactly did he see?

"How adversity can hit and how it can just like come that quick. Sudden change ... The way the game goes, it's kind of fast," he said. "But as the game went on I kind of remembered that this is the game that I've been playing since I was nine years old. So it kind of like slowed down for me and I was able to do some things that helped the defense."

Things, he said, that primarily include getting leverage on the ball.

"That's the number one thing. Last year -- at the beginning of the year -- we kind of struggled with leverage," Powell said. "So this year all off season I just made it a priority to make sure that if I don't do anything, I'm going to leverage the football. Because I know I got 10 other people running to get to the ball."

Against San Diego State, though, he could see limited action because of the Aztecs' offensive formations rather than his own play.

"I don't know how much nickel we'll play this week because (the Aztecs are) more of a two tight end outfit," Meyer said.

But Powell is practicing as if SDSU will target him 45 times.

"(I need to) make sure every rep I take is perfect, try to do the best I can," he said. "I got to basically work on my technique because we don't know what can happen (the Aztecs) might come out with some brand new stuff."

And if they do, it appears Powell will be ready.



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