Peterson set to lead RedHawks’ defense at OSU

Jay Peterson has been to Ohio Stadium plenty of times.

But, while he’s had a job to do during most of those visits, he does always go back to the days when he was growing up in Hopedale just waiting for the Ohio State football games to kick off.

“I would say any football-loving kid growing up in the state of Ohio always dreams about being a Buckeye one day,” Peterson said during a phone interview earlier this week.

Peterson will revisit his youth once again Saturday afternoon, but you won’t catch him singing “Hang on Sloopy” with the Ohio State Marching Band.

The 1980 Cadiz High graduate will be solely focused on trying to come up with a way of slowing down Braxton Miller and the new-look Ohio State offense.

“I know what the ‘Shoe is all about,” Peterson said. “For us, it’s just another stadium with a 120-by-53 yard field and we’re looking forward to getting out on the field and hitting someone else.”

Peterson is embarking on his first season back as defensive coordinator at his alma mater Miami of Ohio. This is his 22nd season as a major college football coach.

During his career, Peterson has coached at Northwestern, Illinois State, Eastern Michigan and he’s in his second tour of duty with Miami. He was brought back to the Oxford campus by his collegiate teammate Don Treadwell, who is in his second season at the helm.

“I’ve been fortunate that this is only my fifth stop (in my coaching career),” Peterson said. “I think when you get into this business, you realize that moving (a lot) is part of it, but I’ve been able to spend some quality time at some places and have some roots. Not real deep roots, but roots nonethless.”

Devising a game plan for the Buckeyes has been somewhat of a challenge for Peterson and the Redhawks. With Urban Meyer bringing the spread offense and now no-huddle, up-tempo approach, the Redhawks staff was limited on the film it could watch.

Obviously, it watched last year’s OSU games just to get a look at personnel, but the schemes are totally different. So, it combated that by digging into the archive to watch past Meyer-coached teams.

“You still don’t know,” Peterson said. “It’s obviously nice when you go into a game with a staff that’s been in place, but going into a game against a staff you know very little about is very tough.”

The Redhawks make the short bus trip to Columbus as 20.5 point underdogs to the Buckeyes, who’ve never lost to Miami in their three prior meetings.

“We know we’re facing a very, very talented football team that’s very well coached,” Peterson said. “As a competitor, we’re going over there looking to win the football game. If you go in with any other attitude, why do you even play?”

One thing the 100,000-plus fans on hand Saturday can be sure of is Miami will leave it all on the field.

“We’re going to play hard,” Peterson said. “That’s what Miami football does. We’re going to play hard and that’s all I can ask them to do. We will play with great effort.”

Meyer had extremely high praise for Redhawks’ quarterback Zac Dysert, basically saying he thought he was talented enough to play for anyone in the country.

“Coach Meyer is right about that,” Peterson confirmed. “I see Zac every day and we go against him. He’s a very talented football player, and it certainly makes us a better defense because we get to face him. I am just glad he’s on our side.”

Peterson had his recruiting area revised for this season. He’s now in charge of both Central and Southeast Ohio.

“It’s nice because I’ll be able to get back in the area this winter and next spring more,” Peterson said. “Recruiting never stops at this level. You have to attack it the same as you attack the season because it’s just as competitive.”

When Peterson, who is a member of the OVAC Hall of Fame, hits the recruiting trail, he sells Miami the same way it was sold to him. He had several offers, but the campus and the “Cradle of Coaches” was big for him because he knew early on what his long-range goals were.

“I am living the tradition of the Cradle of Coaches and what Miami stands for,” Peterson said. “It’s worked out very, very well for me.”

Peterson’s parents – who still live in Hopedale – will be making the trip to Columbus.

“As they’re getting older, it’s tougher for them to get to (Miami’s campus) Oxford,” Peterson said. “They’re able to get to the closer games like Akron, Kent or Ohio University.”


? WHEN PETERSON played at Miami, he was also teammates with former Bridgeport High standout Craig Miller, who was inducted into the OVAC Hall in 2011. This weekend, Miller will be inducted to the Bulldogs’ Wall of Fame.

  • AT STATE College, Pa., the Ohio University Bobcats will open their season against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

A player with Ohio Valley ties will be playing on the Bobcats’ special teams. Blake Scipio – a 2012 graduate of Bradley High School in Hilliard – is a preferred walkon with the Bobcats. He earned the right to travel with the team this weekend.

Blake is the son of Bill and Jan (Vadasz) Scipio, who are both 1976 graduates of Martins Ferry High School.

Staskey can be reached at or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth