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Great article on what makes the Buckeyes Defense great.

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Great article on what makes the Buckeyes Defense great.

Unread postby furls » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:55 am

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/football/stories/2007/10/6/osufb06.ART_ART_10-06-07_C1_T0845NI.html?sid=101


Title of the post says it all.

Coming into this season, I thought this defense was going to be a lot more like 2005 than 2002, but so far I have been proven wrong. The '05 team revolved around big plays and bigger names (Youboty, Schlegel, Hawk, Carpenter, Kudla, Everett, Whitner). This year's team feels a lot more consistent, steady, and cohesive like the '02 team.
Coming from a Wolverine, we're the football equivalent of a formerly abused wife of a meth addict who just remarried the safe nice guy. We're just glad we have someone who's aware that it's a rivalry and that tackling on defense is integral. Baby steps.

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Unread postby FUDU » Sat Oct 06, 2007 3:25 pm

I've brought this up before, OSU is very accomplished team when it comes to tackling, at times they are just simply incredible at it.

Have been that way since day one with JT and even that way with a few of Cooper's teams, though not nearly as evident.

IMO the biggest difference from this year's D compared to that lesser known and less flashy 2002 D is speed. In 2002 our D was great but the overall speed on D was good to very good in certain key positions.

Now (including 2005 & 2006 and this year), our defensive speed is very good to great.

Hard to find a more consistent school that is better at tackling.

Tackling is truly the name of the game on defense in regards to the players on the field executing. Putting those players in the right spots to fully utilize their ability (like tackling) is the other part, but for another discussion.

Good article, but not a lot of unexpected info.

I would like to see more of a pass rush from this D, IIRC in 2002 we consistently brought more pressure as a team. I realize we had Will Smith that year, and have not a had a pass rusher like him since, but I have yet to see/hear that some kind of menacing pressure. Not sure if this is due to our current schemes or simple lack of specific talent.
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Unread postby furls » Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:22 pm

99% of it is scheme and the offenses they are facing. The Buckeyes did not see nearly as much spread as they are seeing now. THis Ohio State team is playing a lot of nickel. It is almost the base defense because of all the spread (Spread teams so far: Washington, NW, Mn, and now Purdue).

The Bucks are playing a soft nickel and are often dropping a DE into coverage in the flat (Gholston) and playing man under with the LBs. Not a ton of blitzing, and the teams that they are playing are not holding on to the ball very long because they are trying to hit the short routes underneath the corners and safeties.

As a great example of the difference, think about all the times in '05 you saw Carpenter with his hand down outside of the DE. That team was consistently bringing 5 and they were making no attempts at hiding it.
Coming from a Wolverine, we're the football equivalent of a formerly abused wife of a meth addict who just remarried the safe nice guy. We're just glad we have someone who's aware that it's a rivalry and that tackling on defense is integral. Baby steps.

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Unread postby neoleo » Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:16 am

Good points about tackling and the nickle. The great thing about these linebackers is that they can cover so well. Up until recently Freeman was actually more of a liablility agains the run than the pass (when could you ever say that about an OSU linebacker?). He's had huge games the last three weeks to really develop into an every down LB.

Not sure if you guys noticed, but OSU started in the nickle vs. Purdue, but it was a 3-3-5 as opposed to the traditional 4-2-5 Nickle that you normally see. Having Grant and Freeman on the outside and Laurinaitis on the inside being able to cover recievers really helps with the tackling (obvioulsy you have 240 pound LB's tackling instead of 180 pound nickle backs/CB's).

Another improvement over last year is safety play (and the whole secondary really). I loved Brandon Mitchell for his heart and the fact that he stuck around 5 years to finally start (after graduating in 3), but he was not up to standards as an OSU safety. Also, after Russell went down at Iowa last year, O'Neal killed us at the other safety position. On top of that, as good of a story as Antonio Smith was last year, he wasn't a good open field tackler and he didn't have top speed either. Smith and the safeties were really exposed in the michigan game last year which lead to the soft coverage in the national championship game.
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Unread postby furls » Mon Oct 08, 2007 12:58 pm

Not sure if you guys noticed, but OSU started in the nickle vs. Purdue, but it was a 3-3-5 as opposed to the traditional 4-2-5 Nickle that you normally see. Having Grant and Freeman on the outside and Laurinaitis on the inside being able to cover recievers really helps with the tackling (obvioulsy you have 240 pound LB's tackling instead of 180 pound nickle backs/CB's).


The one drawback is that since OSU is using LBs underneath, you are seeing less man under and more zone. The result is that the five yard stuff (dink and dunk) is there all day. The Buckeyes defense is based around the philosophy that if you can go 80 yards on 11 plays then you deserve the TD, but you will not go 80 in 3-6. It is sound and will work well almost all the time. In a lot of ways, it is the same defensive philosophy that Fl exploited last year and it can be susceptible to a well executed spread, but all defenses are susceptible to well executed offenses.

In the Fl game last year, the Gators did a good job of taking the open underneath stuff and remaining content to beat the Buckeyes seven yards at a time. It will be interesting to see if anyone else can remain patient and execute against this year's version.

Another improvement over last year is safety play (and the whole secondary really). I loved Brandon Mitchell for his heart and the fact that he stuck around 5 years to finally start (after graduating in 3), but he was not up to standards as an OSU safety. Also, after Russell went down at Iowa last year, O'Neal killed us at the other safety position. On top of that, as good of a story as Antonio Smith was last year, he wasn't a good open field tackler and he didn't have top speed either. Smith and the safeties were really exposed in the michigan game last year which lead to the soft coverage in the national championship game.


Exactly. I don't think anyone understood how big a loss Russell was last year until the Michigan game. O'Neal can now be cast into the pile of five star recruits that never really made it. He is a great athlete, but he has a tendency of not being where he is supposed to be and then trying to react to the ball/play. That works great when you are sub 4.4 in HS, not so much in top tier DI NCAA football. When he was not the starter on day one, it became apparent that he is effectively done. Tressel has shown time and time again that he would rather have heady consistent play than reckless physical freaks.
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Unread postby neoleo » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:01 pm

Furls wrote: The one drawback is that since OSU is using LBs underneath, you are seeing less man under and more zone. The result is that the five yard stuff (dink and dunk) is there all day. The Buckeyes
defense is based around the philosophy that if you can go 80 yards on 11 plays then you deserve the TD, but you will not go 80 in 3-6. It is sound and will work well almost all the time.


I agree, as my favorite defenses feature corners up in the face of the receiver at the line of scrimmage. Granted, nobody does this as a base defense anymore, but there have been a few occasions this season where
I've seen Jenkins do just that (something you would've NEVER seen last year with those safeties).

Just think back to how many spread teams we've played since Tressel came on board and how many of them actually had success running the spread. I can think of one, Florida. Texas Teck, Washington State with Gesser, Washington with Pickett, Purdue every year, MSU with Stanton, Iowa with Tate and others were all shut down. Tressel's teams usually do very well against one dimensional offenses.

Furls wrote: In a lot of ways, it is the same defensive philosophy that Fl exploited last year and it can be susceptible to a well executed spread, but all defenses are susceptible to well executed offenses.

In the Fl game last year, the Gators did a good job of taking the open underneath stuff and remaining content to beat the Buckeyes seven yards at a time. It will be interesting to see if anyone else can remain
patient and execute against this year's version.


Although they are still running more zone with those linebackers in nickel situations, there is a big difference from last year.

In the Florida game they sat back in a zone and didn't blitz and the down linemen weren't getting any pressure on the QB's. Why would you sit in a soft zone and not pressuare a QB who has traditionally folded in the face of pressure? Its because you don't trust your safeties and as you said, OSU would rather make you go 11 plays consistantly instead of constatnly breaking the big one over the top.

The play of this year's secondary has allowed the coaches to be creative with blitzes from their nickel package. Laurinaitis leads the team in sacks (and ints-which shows how they can disguise the coverages out of this package) and Grant had a sack vs. Purue and Freeman led the team in tackles for loss in that game. Those stats speak volumes about the way this defense is being used, because you wouldn't get those numbers out of the way they played vs. Florida.

Furls wrote: Exactly. I don't think anyone understood how big a loss Russell was last year until the Michigan game. O'Neal can now be cast into the pile of five star recruits that never really made it. He is a great athlete, but he has a tendency of not being where he is supposed to be and then trying to react to the ball/play. That works great when you are
sub 4.4 in HS, not so much in top tier DI NCAA football. When he was not the starter on day one, it became apparent that he is effectively done.
Tressel has shown time and time again that he would rather have heady consistent play than reckless physical freaks.


Case in point, Brandon Mitchell. If Jamario could just understand where he was supposed to be, he could be a solid player. He's looked good on special teams this year because he just gets to run down there and hit people. Makes me wonder if he'd be better off on offense, or at least returning kicks.


I love good Buckeye talk.
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Unread postby FUDU » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:39 pm

I love good Buckeye talk.


So do I. I am enjoying both of your insights here.
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Unread postby furls » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:55 pm

You know, another sign, that just dawned on me of the Buckeyes growing confidence in the safeties is that they are playing less "Tampa 2." They played a ton of Tampa 2 last year.

In a nutshell,

Cover 2 is when you run 2 safeties deep to cover downfield, each safety has a deep "half" of the field. In Tampa 2, the Middle linebacker drops back in pass coverage and covers the middle deep zone, basically becoming a third safety with deep coverage responsibility in the middle of the field.

The problem with Tampa 2 as a pass defense is that if the ML is tricked by play action, he can be beat in the deep middle third particularly by a TE, H-back, or slot receiver. Additionally, the ML can be pulled out of the play on a QB draw (or draw), opening the middle of the field (saw a lot of this in the FL game) for the running game.

The big advantage to Tampa 2 is that it initially looks like cover 2, but rapidly turns into cover 3, so you may actually catch a QB napping. The difference in cover 3 responsibilities are very different than Cover 2, for instance, CBs have the flats in Cover 3, so they can gamble more on out patterns and play tighter than they would in straight Cover 2. It really affects reads all over the field, but it does cause holes in the middle and is susceptible to play action.

With better safety play, Ohio State is now able to play more base Cover 2 because the safeties are doing a better job handling their downfield responisibilities.

BTW, 3-3-5 makes much more sense for Ohio State right now, and hell, I don't think a 3-4 would be a bad idea for base. The "Doug Worthington Experiment" has not gone well, we are seeing more and more of Dex Larimore, but the DT play has not been terrific. Also, with big ends, Rose, Heywood, and Gholston, they are physical enough to run the 3 linemen in base. I would love to see Thad Gibson get more play time and a 3-4 would probably make him a starter.

Rose/Heywood
Denlinger
Gholston

Freeman
Grant (ILB)
Laurinaitis (ILB)
Gibson

Washington
Jenkins
Russell
Coleman

Looks pretty good to me, but hell the Bucks are doing fine with what they are doing now. Chekwa has done much better this year than I think anyone thought he would and how about Jenkins moving to safety in the Nickel. How many shutdown corners can play safety.
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Unread postby neoleo » Mon Oct 08, 2007 3:52 pm

Furls wrote:BTW, 3-3-5 makes much more sense for Ohio State right now, and hell, I don't think a 3-4 would be a bad idea for base. The "Doug Worthington Experiment" has not gone well, we are seeing more and more of Dex Larimore, but the DT play has not been terrific. Also, with big ends, Rose, Heywood, and Gholston, they are physical enough to run the 3 linemen in base. I would love to see Thad Gibson get more play time and a 3-4 would probably make him a starter.


Will Smith was mentioned earlier, and so was Gholston dropping back into coverage. Remember that Smith used to drop back into coverage and change positions at the line on many occasions. That DE spot is the LEO in the OSU defense and often times it acts as a 4th LB (which can switch the base from a 4-3 to a 3-4 without making a substitution).

What you're talking about is running a traditional 3-4 and I don't think its a bad idea actually. Worthington hasn't been as good as hoped (although he's shown signs of being a productive DT) and getting a pass rushing LB like Gibson on the field in his place would make sense. Also, Rose had bulked up in the offseason with the thought of playing DT (before Wilson got hurt) and Heyward was recruited as a DT. Both of those guys, along with Gholston, can handle DE repsonsibilities in a 3-4. Gibson did miss the Purdue game and it was rumored that he was suspended for one game, so we'll see how much PT he gets the rest of the way. I would say put Homan in at the 2nd ILB spot and leave Grant on the outside, but Homan's hurt and isn't expected back in the near future.

Furls wrote:Chekwa has done much better this year than I think anyone thought he would and how about Jenkins moving to safety in the Nickel. How many shutdown corners can play safety.


Chekwa has been a huge surprise to me. I saw him play in the spring game and I was impressed, but I didn't expect this. Don't know if you saw, but he was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his game at Purdue.

I LOVE what they're doing with Jenkins. Russell has proved to be the best blitzer of the secondary, and maybe on the team, so moving him up to the slot plays into that strength. Plus he is a sure tackler on the crossing patterns that so many slot receivers run. Washington and Chekwa have proven to be able to handle the outside receivers so that Jenkins can just sit back and roam center field.

Like you said, there aren't too many shut-down corners that can handle playing safety (both skill-set and size wise). They may call him "one of" the best corners in the nation, but when it comes time for his NFL days (likely after this season) I bet he goes pretty high and makes a lot of money because of his combination of size, speed, and versatility.
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Unread postby furls » Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:23 pm

Now that Ohio State is on the map, watch for the rest of the nation to start to notice Jenkins. With more exposure he will be a top 10 pick for exactly the reasons you mentioned.
Coming from a Wolverine, we're the football equivalent of a formerly abused wife of a meth addict who just remarried the safe nice guy. We're just glad we have someone who's aware that it's a rivalry and that tackling on defense is integral. Baby steps.

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Unread postby Mcreek » Mon Oct 08, 2007 5:52 pm

Like you said, there aren't too many shut-down corners that can handle playing safety (both skill-set and size wise). They may call him "one of" the best corners in the nation, but when it comes time for his NFL days (likely after this season) I bet he goes pretty high and makes a lot of money because of his combination of size, speed, and versatility


Rod Woodson of Purdue and Ronnie Lott of USC were the two that fit this mold but Donte Whitner could have to.

I share your infatuation with Thad Gibson who could be the next great pass rusher here if he doesn't have any further conflicts with the coaches. I was really disapointed that he didn't play Saturday nite
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