I had planned on and really wanted to do a review of the defense against Purdue because complaining about all of Ohio State's offensive deficiencies can get old and this team played well against the Boilers on that side of the ball. With the challenges this team is facing, it's important to point out what they're doing well and the defense earned its share.
But when I got down to it, I quickly found out that this was taking quite a bit longer than the offensive reviews I've done in the past. Some of it was due to the fact that I had never done a defensive one before, but it was also a little trickier picking out the actors on defense with the camera following the offense. Didn't catch that nickel back's number before the snap? Tough luck.
Anyway, I'm hopefully a little prepared for the next attempt, but this is what I took away from watching film of the defense against Purdue:
Malcolm Jenkins is a Stone Cold Killer
Easily the best game of the year out of him. On the very first Purdue offensive play, he recorded a solo tackle on Sheets while getting blocked, holding a nicely set up swing pass to Sheets to two yards. Three plays later and his blocked punt springs Sabino for the only points the Buckeyes would need on the afternoon. He got in so quickly on the punt that he actually had time to adjust his angle to come across the foot of the punter. It's a shame we'll only get to watch him for six more games, but Chekwa is going to be special as well.
Man Coverage is Back in Fashion
Saw plenty of man on the afternoon. And blitzes out of it, even. In fact, Freeman blitzed out of man coverage on two of the first three plays when Purdue had the ball. Blitzes out of this formation were used all day to force early throws out of Painter as well as support the run defense. For the most part, it worked. I'm not sure if this is a Purdue thing or if Heacock has seen the light, but for one afternoon at least, it was a lot of fun to watch.
Hines on Runs, D-Wash on Passes
As expected, the Buckeyes employed quite a bit of nickel coverage against the Boilermakers. When down and distance indicated a probable running down, Hines was in the game as the 5th defensive back. When things got to 2nd and six or so, Donald Washington came out. As a result of this, Homan hardly saw the field, finishing with just one tackle for the day.
Is the Line Turning a Corner?
It was Purdue and all (particularly the 2008 Purdue team, which had just one touchdown in its previous 12 possessions coming in), but I am getting the feeling that Gibson is having an energizing effect on his linemates. At this point, he's just about good for one turnover per game and it's almost like the rest of them have come out of their slumber and realized they wanted to be part of the fun. The Wilson injury is a killer and they still struggle sometimes when teams run it up-the-gut at them, but there's a lot to be encouraged about. Quick question, though -- was the growth of the interior of the line retarded a bit by going against Rehring-Cordle-Person so often in spring and fall workouts?