Meyer: Pass Defense Very Alarming

By Kyle Rowland on October 8, 2013 at 2:30p
Bradley Roby hasn't been his All-American self.

It’ll be a slow week at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with Ohio State on a bye week. But the work goes on — there will be no vacation days.

The Buckeyes are 6-0, but the past two weeks have shown there are areas to work on. On the Big Ten Teleconference, head coach Urban Meyer said the pass defense is “very alarming right now.” That means it’s back to the drawing board during the first of two bye weeks.

The secondary has been shredded three times in six games. Part of the problem, an issue dating to 2011, is missed tackles. Meyer pointed out that two of Northwestern’s biggest gains Saturday were purely because of missed tackles.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Buckeyes will work on continued improvement in the passing game. After having 19 touchdown passes in the first five games, Ohio State was limited to zero at Northwestern. Quarterback Braxton Miller did not have his “A” game, and Meyer said any tentativeness in his play is due to the coaches wanting him to be cautious.

“He’s 100 percent,” Meyer said.

But that doesn’t mean the coaches have given up on backup Kenny Gution. He warmed up on the sideline briefly Saturday before Meyer shut him down. In the offensive meeting room, though, Meyer admitted there are on-going discussions about getting him a few series each game.

“It’s very comforting, not troubling, that we have two good quarterbacks,” Meyer said.

Urban Meyer:

  • “We certainly are not attempting to take our foot off the accelerator, but it seems to be happening.”
  • Meyer called the offensive line the “strength of our program right now.”
  • On the Buckeyes’ first-quarter success, Meyer said they utilize up tempo, scripted plays during opening drives that worked well in practice.
  • “If you have Carlos Hyde and Dontre Wilson as a tag team back there, that’s exactly what you're looking for.”
  • Meyer on Luke Fickell: “He's an incredible family man, very good football coach. He'd be an excellent head coach.”

Brady Hoke:

  • Michigan travels to Penn State Saturday. Hoke said he’s been impressed with Christian Hackenberg’s body language, poise and skill set. He said defending Hackenberg becomes goal No. 1 for the defense.
  • Hoke defined Michigan’s next games – Penn State and Indiana – as a two-game season. The Wolverines have a bye week following the IU game.
  • There’s been chatter about Jake Ryan’s return. Hoke said he doesn’t want to rush anything, do too much too early. “This is a long-term process for him and us.”

Gary Andersen:

  • Wisconsin hosts Northwestern this week. Andersen said the Wildcats’ two-quarterback system is as good as he’s ever seen. He’s especially concerned about them being on the field together.
  • When Andersen was the head coach at Utah State preparing for Wisconsin last season, he realized quickly how special Jared Abbrederis is. He said his work ethic is the thing that sticks out and also his sneaky speed. Andersen said he’s never come across a player that enjoys practice as much as Abbrederis.
  • Melvin Gordon is 100 percent and will have no issues playing Saturday. He suffered a knee injury against Ohio State.
  • Andersen said stopping the run is the top priority each week. If you don’t play good team defense in the Big Ten, you’ll struggle.
  • For Saturday, Andersen said Wisconsin’s passing game will be key, much like it was against the Buckeyes. The more receivers that get involved, the better off the Badgers should be.

Bo Pelini:

  • Nebraska’s defense continues to improve and look “cleaner,” according to Pelini. But he added there are still strides to be made before they become the unit he expects of them.
  • The Cornhuskers are the only Big Ten team that had to replace all three linebackers. Pelini said the unit grows and improves every day. “I like the future at that position.”
  • Taylor Martinez is still nursing an injury. But Nebraska has Purdue this week, which should lead to an easy victory. Still, Pelini said they’ll do what they need to to win and if that includes playing Martinez, he’ll play. Nebraska has a bye next week and Pelini said that will factor into his decision on Martinez.
  • Two bye weeks so close together wouldn’t be ideal most of the time, Pelini said. But with a young team and so many injuries, it should benefit Nebraska.
  • Running back Ameer Abdullah was named the co-offensive player of the week. Pelini said his ability to run effectively does a tremendous job opening up the passing game and getting the receivers and tight ends involved.

Mark Dantonio:

  • Darqueze Dennard has emerged as a leader on the Spartan defense. Dantonio said he’s a complete play, can play any position in the secondary.
  • Dantonio talks up the Michigan State special teams. Said each special teams unit has contributed to each of the Spartans’ wins.
  • Connor Cook has become more comfortable at quarterback, Dantonio said. Cook has progressed each week since the beginning of the season, and Dantonio said there’s still a lot more he can do.
  • Dantonio on the defense: “We’re chasing excellence.”

Tracy Claeys:

  • Jerry Kill was not on the teleconference, so Minnesota’s defensive coordinator took part in the call.
  • Kill is working with doctors to get his health under control. Claeys said Kill has been resting at home and working with doctors to get medication that helps the situation. There’s no rush on Kill returning since it’s a bye week.
  • Claeys said the players have handled the situation fine. Minnesota has been through this before, so they understand everything going on in the background.
  • Claeys said improving third-down efficiency will be a top priority during the Gophers’ bye week. They play Northwestern in two weeks.

Tim Beckman:

  • Illinois is coming off a decisive loss at Nebraska. It had the makings of a good game with the Illini showing marked improvement this season. But Beckman said they were completely outmanned up front.
  • Beckman said the team will focus on fundamentals during the first half of this week before starting to gameplan for Wisconsin later in the week.
  • Illinois’ most noticeable deficiency on defense, according to Beckman, is open-field tackling. He said the problem has been glaring. Beckman also said the defense hasn’t forced enough turnovers or come up with enough sacks.

Darrell Hazell:

  • Purdue took its bye week to start preparing for Nebraska a few days early. It would be a signature win for Hazell if he can knock off the Huskers in West Lafayette.
  • The Boilermakers are one of the youngest teams in the country, and Hazell said they’re starting to get the hang of things and developing chemistry and cohesion.
  • Danny Etling will start against Nebraska. He’ll be the fourth true freshman quarterback to start in the Big Ten this season.
  • Rob Henry has moved to safety. Hazell said when he told Henry he was making a move at QB, his first reaction was, “What can I do to help the team?” Hazell said Henry had an interception in practice on Monday.
  • Henry suggested a move to wide receiver or safety. Hazell said they opted for safety because that’s where Purdue is thinnest.

Bill O’Brien:

  • Coming off a convincing loss at Indiana, O’Brien said he’s been impressed with the leadership this week and the focus being completely forward on Michigan.
  • Penn State will have the services of wide receiver Brandon Moseby-Felder this week.
  • O’Brien was extremely short with reporters. It was clear he was unhappy with last week’s performance and concentrating on Michigan.
  • When a reporter said 55 passes by Hackenberg seemed like a lot, O’Brien snapped, “Seems like a lot to who? To you, I guess.”

Pat Fitzgerald:

  • On the Ohio State game: “I thought we moved the ball pretty well against a darn good defense.”
  • Fitzgerald said he thought Northwestern showed several positives coming off the bye week. But he said he doesn’t get caught up in that when the team loses. He said the Wildcats need to close better and come up big in critical moments.
  • Fitzgerald said Northwestern worked on stripping the ball. He credited Ohio State with hanging on for the most part. Miller did lose two fumbles, though.
  • Northwestern is playing at Wisconsin and Nebraska in the coming weeks. Fitzgerald said the team will work on that in practice with crowd noise, etc.
  • “We’ve got a very good football team. I thought they handled it very well and showed they can play with a very good football team. I’m bitterly disappointed.”

Kevin Wilson:

  • Wilson is concerned with communication on Saturday at Michigan State. He said the offense will use hand signals to combat the crowd noise and use a no-huddle approach. He said team energy will be key, especially for underclassmen.
  • Offensive lineman David Kaminsky suffered an ACL injury and will miss the rest of the season. Wilson said the team will move forward with same lineup used at end of Penn State game.

Comments Show All Comments

One Bad Buckeye's picture

Errmagerrrrd! Fire Cooombs!!!

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

AndyVance's picture

Cue speculation and over-analysis of Meyer's comments on Coach Fickell in 3, 2...

Ahh Saturday's picture

. . . wonder if that means he's trying to push Fickell out the door?

Seth4Bucks's picture

You mean he should've gone after that pizza delivery guy?

Haybucks's picture

...and 1. 

He'd be an excellent head coach.

Breaking news.  Urban Meyer actively campaigning a head coaching position for Luke Fickell.
How's that one Andy?

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Boxley's picture

Gosh, UFM said something nice about Luke in his presser, he must be suffering from jet lag or something!
Hey, can someone please go outside and let me know if the sky is truly falling?
Sorry, Andy  tried to get there by 1.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Buckeye06's picture

Well the Fickell hate hasn't died on the board.  Even though it's not a secondary problem primarily, which is more an Everett Withers type problem.  Not saying Fickell's playcalling helps, but it just compounds the problem. 
I'm not worried about the pass D right now, since there is 2 weeks to prepare and get better, then another 3 games, and another 2 weeks to get better before Indiana and Michigan, who have the best passing games we'll see the rest of the year likely.  Just get better every week, and the pass D can be top 30 or so, with the rush D being top 10, and I'll be happy being around 15-20 overall

thatlillefty's picture

Besides being Co-Defensive Coordinator, does Withers coach any position groups specifically? Someone correct me if I'm wrong but Coombs, Fickell and Vrabel coach the DB's, LB's and D-Line, respectively.
Meyer is very hands on with the special teams, as is Herman with the QB's. So what is Whither's specialty?

Buckeye06's picture

I think Withers is the Safety he and Coombs I think control the back end of the D...and I meant it is primarily a secondary problem in my previous post

SavannahGABuckeye48's picture

Withers coaches the safeties and Coombs coaches the corners.

SPreston2001's picture

So you think everything is going to get fixed in two weeks when they had all off season and camp to work and its still a problem?? I pray your right....

Haybucks's picture

The DL and LB's are containing and tackling very well.  The corners and safeties need to spend a few practices with Fickell to review form tackling.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Frankly Scarlet's picture

Hmmm, Hyde and Wilson in the backfield at the same time. Me likely.

"Buclkle your chinstrap, we're gonna grind meat!" - Woody Hayes  

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

I'm with you, but I'm not sure that's what Urban met. If it is, he doesn't understand how tag teams work.
- Joe Laurinaitis

sharks's picture

Until Dontre protects the ball better, I'd rather see Hall and Hyde back there.

A man got to have a code...

Bamabucknut's picture

I wonder why Wilson did not see the field against Wisc.Power and Speed are a great combination.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Fitz said they worked a lot on stripping the ball this past week, in hindsight, not playing Wilson was great because he probably would've lost as many if not more fumbles than Braxton in less snaps

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

741's picture

Darqueze is my second favorite name for a future male child.

osubuck57's picture

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Buckeyes. We're undefeated, 6-0!! No need to worry about pass coverage, at all. We've been saying it all of this season, and last year. Maybe coming from Urban Meyer, people will actually listen.


OSUStu's picture

I don't think that is what Urban meant by the pass defense is “very alarming right now.”  I am really happy we are 6-0...but that certainly doesn't mean there aren't any problems with this team.  There is room for huge improvement.  Hopefully, we will get there.  It is pretty important to our championship aspirations. 

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

741's picture

Plenty of room for improvement, obviously.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

The good news is we dont have anyone on the schedule rhat can pass all over us enough to beat us. That gives us essentially 6 or 7 practice scrimmages to prepare for a big bowl game.

But for real, at a place known for stout defense...and a current roster full of talent...and some phenomenal coaches...I think we can tighten this up just like we did with the tackling issue last year.

gravey's picture

Indiana comes to mind.  They rang us up for what?  40-some last year.  They can't stop us either - but throw in a couple of fumbles and pick like last weekend and you've got a very embarrassing loss to a team loosely tied to Tom Crean...who I'm already thinking about hating in December.

Haybucks's picture

Procrastination.  Isn't that special.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Bamabucknut's picture

When teams set school passing records against you....
and your seeing pass after pass and get few sacks...
Miller not running like he did in 2012
think what a top ranked team will do to you ?

Maestro's picture

10th in the country in sacks.

vacuuming sucks

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Would a dual-quarterback system allow the coaching staff to basically script the whole game?

CC's picture

•Taylor Martinez is still nursing an injury. But Nebraska has Purdue this week, which should lead to an easy victory. Still, Pelini said they’ll do what they need to to win and if that includes playing Martinez, he’ll play. Nebraska has a bye next week and Pelini said that will factor into his decision on Martinez.

I assume this is a comment by 11W not Bo right?

Squirrel Master's picture

I was going to say the same thing, a bit presumptive by Pelini if he did say it.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

m4's picture

I have been Listening to coach Meyer talk over the last few years,and he does not beat around the bush. I did not get the impression from his comments on Luke Fickell that he was saying something in disguise, although it will be interesting to see what happens at the end of the year.

Bamabucknut's picture

I still think Fickell has "Bolmanitis".I think he's not nearly demanding or aggressive enough.Meyer had mentioned numerous times our lack of sacks against the passing quarterbacks we have faced(some set school records against us).

gobucks96's picture



cal3713's picture

It looks like he actually hurts himself during that reaction...

Buckeyeneer's picture

Is that his reaction to "Two Walruses, One Cup"?

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

DannyBeane's picture

Did I hear cup of chum?

German Buckeye's picture

I wonder what the kid was really looking at to get that reaction?


Rob Henry has moved to safety. Hazell said when he told Henry he was making a move at QB, his first reaction was, “What can I do to help the team?” Hazell said Henry had an interception in practice on Monday.

I somehow don't think this will work out as well for Purdue as us moving Boren to LB did.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

southbay's picture

It's a very different situation I think.  Coach Hazell had to do something, not only from a numbers perspective, but also from a morale standpoint.  
But I hope you're right, I really don't want to see the Buckeyes in another struggle in West Lafayette this year.  ugh.

Doc's picture

I'm wondering if Meyer's quote about not taking the foot off the gas is a shot at Herman to step up play calling.  I'm not suggesting trouble in paradise.  It comes across as frustration more than anything else.  I can't believe this is how Urban envisioned his offense working this past summer.  To my eyes it is like driving a brand new Lambo in a 25 mph zone, afraid to take it out on the interstate.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

cajunbuckeye's picture

Maybe it was concern over poor field conditions or turnovers spinning out of control.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

FLAMikey's picture

Seeing the pass D up close and personal certainly alarmed the hell out of me.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I think everything Urban Meyer says is a psychological motivator for his players and staff.  What is his education background again?  I forget...

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

HotSauceCommittee's picture

All the homers on here saying we don't have a defensive backfield problem, now is it believable since it has came out of one of the most successful head coaches in recent history's mouth.

But seriously, step one is admitting you have a problem. Step two is feasting on Iowa, State Penn, Indiana.....

Jabba the Hoke's picture

I find it weird that the secondary is the issue when all of the questions in the off season were about the front seven.

bigbill992001's picture

We didnt expect Robey to struggle like he has.   Even Shazier isnt playing the way he did last yr.

HotSauceCommittee's picture

I agree. LB LB LB was all we heard. 

Larryp713's picture

It has been a contradiction, that in the beginning of the season we were confident that the secondary was a strength and would help make up for weaknesses in the front 7. The D-line has been great, we are getting good LB play, and the secondary has given up far too many big plays.
To answer somebody's question about why we have confidence this can get addressed in two weeks, when we had the whole off-season... I think the coaches now have the attention of all the players, especially Roby. He knows what is at stake for him. They will work on coverage and tackling fundamentals, probably open the competition for playing time, and I think you will see a difference in two weeks and beyond. I liken it to front seven transformation after the Indiana game last year. I am hopeful.



Seattle Linga's picture

I like the break we get right now and I believe the Bullets will be ready to go hard in about 12 days from now.

Maestro's picture

Motivation, motivation, motivation.

vacuuming sucks

Haybucks's picture

O’Brien snapped, “Seems like a lot to who? To you, I guess.”

Now, that's no way to win the Sports Writers' COY BO'B!

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Oldschoolbuck's picture

Brady Hoke:
"Of course, I'm REALLY looking forward to eating all that delicious ice cream they 'churn out' at PSU!"