What prompted Ohio State football's safety switch against Notre Dame?

Josh Proctor went in for a tackle.

As Notre Dame wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. caught a pass from quarterback Tyler Buchner on the first play from scrimmage in Ohio State’s win over the Irish on Saturday, Proctor lunged at him.

But instead of wrapping up Styles as he landed around Notre Dame’s 24-yard line, Proctor saw him shake loose.

It resulted in a 54-yard reception with Styles tearing off down the sideline.

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By the Irish’s next drive, Lathan Ransom had replaced Proctor.

The switch at strong safety was one of the more unexpected substitution patterns from the Buckeyes’ season opener.

Ohio State safety Lathan Ransom and defensive end Zach Harrison tackle Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer.
Ohio State safety Lathan Ransom and defensive end Zach Harrison tackle Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer.

Ransom played 46 snaps on defense, according to Pro Football Focus’ tracking, replacing Proctor, a fifth-year senior who appeared for only five snaps.

Months ago, Ransom’s status had been uncertain as he spent the offseason rehabbing a broken left leg suffered in the Rose Bowl.

Though he recovered in time for preseason training camp, his absence in spring practice left Proctor in line to start at the safety spot known as the “Bandit,” lining up on the boundary side, or short side, of the field.

Safeties coach Perry Eliano said the sub was prompted by a desire to help Proctor maintain composure following the missed tackle rather than a move that had been a part of the game plan put together in the leadup to kickoff. Proctor was also coming off an injury setback, a similar leg fracture that sidelined for most of last fall.

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“It wasn’t planned accordingly like that,” Eliano said. “What I wanted to do was calm Josh down. Lathan ended up playing quite a bit because he got in rhythm.”

Ransom made an impact on the first series he filled in for Proctor.

With Notre Dame backed up toward its end zone and facing a third-and-7, tight end Michael Mayer caught pass a yard short of picking up a first down and was immediately brought down by Ransom before he could inch forward and try to move the chains.

It was the first of seven tackles by Ransom, who finished with the second-most on the team behind only linebacker Tommy Eichenberg.

“He just is a football player that’s very instinctive,” Eliano said. “When he goes, he goes. He has a great impact when he makes plays on the ball.”

Ransom first caught the eye of Eliano over the summer.

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He noticed Ransom working out on the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, going through various drills by himself.

“I would just watch from afar,” Eliano said, “and I was impressed, because he didn’t have to do that. That let me know he had a desire. He was intrinsically motivated. Once we got to camp, each and every day, he worked.”

Eliano said Proctor was not fazed by his early benching.

Ohio State safety Lathan Ransom attempts to block a punt by Notre Dame's Jon Sot.
Ohio State safety Lathan Ransom attempts to block a punt by Notre Dame's Jon Sot.

“Josh was great on the sideline,” Eliano said. “He was phenomenal. We talk about brotherhood being selfless.”

A day after the game, Eliano met individually with Proctor and others at the position to go over their performances. They also gathered together on Tuesday to review film.

“He's ready to go, and that's what you love about him,” Eliano said. “He's resilient, and he's ready to put his best foot forward.”

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Coach Ryan Day said snap counts were likely to be a bit skewed this week. Notre Dame ran less than 50 total plays, nearly one-third fewer than the average for Tommy Rees’ offense last season.

It reduced the amount of available playing time for the Buckeyes’ defense and put the snaps at safety in starker contrast.

“I think more of those things come to the surface,” Day said. “We’re going to need Josh. Josh is going to have to play for us, and he’ll play a significant amount this year for sure.”

Eliano echoed the sentiment, noting both Proctor and Ransom would be integral to the rotation.

“We need both of them to do what we need to do this year,” Eliano said.

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Why Ohio State football substitued Lathan Ransom for Josh Proctor