Firing Everyone Doesn't Help Anything

By Nicholas Jervey on January 4, 2014 at 6:10a

After a major loss, there is a tendency to point the finger at one person and blame him for all the team's troubles. In the aftermath of the Orange Bowl, that scapegoat is defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.

Certain statistics tend to bring that bloodlust to the surface. For the first time in program history, Ohio State lost when scoring 35 or more points. Clemson ran 76 plays for 7.5 yards per play, and Ohio State's defense has given up 115 points and 1,617 yards in the last three games. All in all, the statistics show a defense in regression.

Ohio State's defense struggled against Clemson. This is not an attempt at a novel or witty observation; this is a fundamental statement, an axiom that must be accepted before advancing any further in criticism.

Decisions about staff changes have their appropriate times, and five hours after a tough loss is not that time. What we can do, though, is to sift through the Orange Bowl to find patterns. Given that the defense was pretty bad in the Orange Bowl, the question is – why?

Urban Meyer was not in the mood to discuss why in the postgame press conference. Asked about how far the defense was from being championship caliber, he responded as such:

"The one thing you're going to find out, the more that you're around me, I'm not a big blamer.  We've got to get better.  And so our defense certainly made some plays to help us go win a game.  Is it what we expect?  No, we expect top ten defense at Ohio State, top ten offense, and top ten special teams, and I don't believe we accomplished any of those."

Bradley Roby's injury and Noah Spence's suspension had big impacts on the defensive game plan. Without OSU's top corner and top pass rusher out, Clemson was able to send Sammy Watkins – who is pretty good, you know – on bubble screen after bubble screen for easy yardage.

Though each player was sorely missed, their absence alone did not doom the defense. In the place of Noah Spence, Jamal Marcus had the game of his life; if Spence were eligible, Marcus would have seen limited time on the field as a backup. Roby may have been able to prevent some of the bubble screens to Watkins and get away with vanilla coverage, but he would have had the same size disadvantage Armani Reeves and Doran Grant had. After a rough start, Vonn Bell gave the Buckeyes solid safety play, intercepting a pass in the red zone and stopping Clemson on a fourth down.

The lack of defensive depth has hurt Ohio State this season, but the injuries and absences suffered before the Orange Bowl didn't affect the Buckeyes any worse than the ones during the rest of the season. It was the two injuries during the game, to Joey Bosa and Braxton Miller, that had a larger impact.

Furthermore, bubble screens are supposed to be a constraint play that only works when the defense is misaligned or cheating toward the run. In Ohio State's case, the bubble screen was a play Clemson was able to exploit all night long, essentially becoming Clemson's base play.

Soft coverage prevented Clemson from connecting on vertical pass plays, but in the process Ohio State gave up 16 catches for 227 yards to Watkins, an Orange Bowl record for receiving yards. Clemson used bubble screens at the beginning of most drives, effectively giving the Tigers a short field every time.

Even in the fourth quarter, after Ohio State had time to adjust to it, Clemson was still able to pick up big chunks of yardage with lateral passes. The fear was clearly that if Ohio State played too close on Watkins or other Clemson receivers, they would beat the secondary vertically, but Clemson's ball control was just as devastating.

In the postgame interview, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney explained why so many bubble screens were called:

This was the seventh best team in the country versus the rush, so we felt like that was our best chance to run the football, mixed in with hot rod, a little bit of what they do, to be honest with you.  And then take what's there in the passing game.  They gave us a lot of soft coverage towards Sammy, and we were just trying to just take advantage of what's there.
Guys did a great job of blocking on the edge and on the perimeter.  We had enough to where we hit some plays down the field, but that's what was there.  And so, no, we didn't really come into the game thinking we were going to throw as many screens as we did, but once we kind of got them on their heels a little bit, we just kept taking it.

The inability to deal with screens and other misdirection has been a persistent problem over the last two years. As early as the 2012 Cal game, opposing offenses have been able to shred OSU with jailbreak screens. Against Michigan this year, the tunnel screen gave the Wolverines several huge gains, and both Michigan State and Clemson used throwback passes to great effect.

Another concerning part of the game is the passivity in response to Clemson's early success. Similarly to Fickell, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables knew his base defense was outmatched by the opposing offense. Unlike Fickell, Venables called blitzes throughout the game to create pressure and force errors by Braxton Miller. That resulted in some open throws, but it also resulted in Miller taking several hard shots that could have contributed to his two turnovers on the final two drives.

For the Orange Bowl, the vanilla approach to defense didn't work. The Buckeyes threw a couple of corner blitzes at Tajh Boyd early, and they were destroyed; after that, even five man blitzes were uncommon.

Other defensive issues like the inability of the corners to contest balls with Clemson's wide receivers and shed wide receivers' blocks contributed to Clemson's passing dominance. There were some schematic issues like putting Vonn Bell alone on Sammy Watkins for Clemson's first touchdown, but there's not much a defense can do against a future first-round draft pick. Though the defensive line couldn't force Boyd into bad decisions often enough, they did a decent job pressuring him; most of the frustration with the defense comes from the underneath passing.

The frustration with the defensive game plan stems from some of the issues from the past couple of years being repeated. With a deeper secondary and linebacker corps, maybe those issues will go away; if not, maybe it would be time for a change.

Judging by his postgame comments, Meyer is dissatisfied with the state of the defense. Just know that there are a number of steps of diligence between dissatisfaction and somebody losing his job, that the the defensive coaches aren't there yet, and if you want to put your fist through something right now you're not alone.


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buckeye_heart's picture

We have gotten destroyed on the corner blitzes all year. I don't think they have worked even once.

The Buckeyes threw a couple of corner blitzes at Tajh Boyd early, and they were destroyed;


buckeyejonross's picture

Michigan and MSU scored off them too.

"You might as well appeal against a thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war. War is cruelty, there is no use trying to reform it; the crueler it is, the sooner it will be over." -William T., Battle of Atlanta, B1G.

penguinpower's picture

Somthing needs to change on defense. We were faceguarding and got called for it. If the DB's turn around we would have had 2 more picks in the game. Terrible coverage by the secondary. It is nice to have 5 star athletes, but it seems we need 5 star football players. I felt like they needed to put kenny iin there to change it up. Clemson dared us to throw the ball and Braxton was holding it too long just as he did iin the beginning of the year. It is hard for me to believe that we have regressed so far on defense. It seemed to me that this area was fixed first when Tressel was here. BTW- most of the Clemson fans were decent, but a lot of them got out of control at the game and started picking fights with Buckeyes nears us by throwing stuff etc. This was not isolated as we ran into several other fans in the tailgate that left (and some thrown out) because of Clemson fan behavior. They were unable to act like they've been there before.

Michael's picture

They were unable to act like they've been there before.

Probably because they haven't been there before.

RunEddieRun1983's picture

I love eleven warriors but I will be god damned if stories like this don't make me want to rip my hair out.  Fickell deserves to be fired.  His performance as defensive coordinator and the performance of the defense overall was such that it warrants his release its just that simple.  If you have a high level job and you don't perform up to the standard set for that position you should be fired its the same in any other walk of life.  It isn't rocket science, it's football.

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

Brutus1972's picture

I agree with both. I agree that Luke should be fired from his DC responsibilities but I also agree that single digit hours after the game is not the time. I think that far too many people defend Fickell because they either know him personally or they feel a sense of obligation due to the year he filled in as HC. I'm sure Luke is a great guy and I know for a fact that we all want him to succeed but at the end of the day Luke has failed to earn his paycheck. Anyone saying anything to the contrary is wearing scarlet colored glasses. Luke will be retained for his recruiting ability but he will be stripped of his DC duties even if he keeps the co DC title.

wyatt's picture

Fickell was 6-7 when he was the head coach. Even my mother-in-law knows he should not be coaching in Columbus. Bubble screens, jailbreak screens, tunnel screens, window it what you want.  We pay Urban too much to have an incompetent defensive coordinator.

bull1214's picture

to wyatt and ur mom in law: what was pinkel of missouri and malzahn of auburns record last year? by ur logic, they suck and should have been fired too.....but good point tho

Osu2105's picture

Ughhhhh malzahn just started head coaching at auburn this year. Chizik was the coach in 2012

bull1214's picture

mind fart!...i meant texas a&m not auburn. nice catch, my bad lol

george_buck's picture

A&M was 11-2 last year.

RufusVonDufus's picture

This might be the worst thing I have ever read on Eleven Warriors.   Trying to defend a future decision of keeping Fickell and other D coaches is a sad slap to the face of Buckeye fans.   Fickell has earned the right to be fired last night and/or any night in the last two years.    He is completely useless as a D coordinator and needs to go not be defended.


GoBucks10's picture

The poor performance on screens worries me or next years opener against Navy. Still, as pointed out...the defense did get some stops when needed and the offense just didn't deliver. Hell of a rid this season, go Buckeyes.

"Because I couldn't go for three."  - Woody Hayes

Buckeye80's picture

Need to watch again while not intoxicated (not going to happen), but the worst thing about the bubble screens was the fact that on most of them Clemson seemed to motion to trips and the defense did not adjust alignment. You can't let the offense out flank you like that. They have 3 receivers being covered by two defenders. This isn't hard. Don't get me wrong, there were other problems too, but proper alignment is crucial to successful defensive play. Our defensive players constantly seem unaware. 

D-Day0043's picture

Our defense didn't adjust because they were playing zone. Motion is used to get the defense to declare whether they are playing zone or man.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

You're right...but...the offense flooded the zone play after play. And there was no adjustment by the staff to Clemson's approach. A defense must first take away the thing the offense wants to do.T
he math is simple on that play, two guys can't guard three guys. That means you need a big play by your DBs every time to defeat the blocks and get to the receiver. And this was a backfield without Roby. Reeves beat his block a couple times. Bell did once. But that's too much to ask.
Anyway, the numbers advantage SHOULD be with the defense on most plays. OSU did not adjust and got both gashed and slow dripped as a result.

D-Day0043's picture

Totally agree. I didn't say it was right. You're preaching to the choir.

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Buckeye80's picture

ItWe play a lot of match up zone which is a lot like man. And I've never coached college, but I coach high school, and I don't care what defense you are running, you can't get outflanked by the offense. It's not fundamentally sound to continually allow that to happen. 

bull1214's picture

the db's job was to take away the outside edge and push the screen to the middle where help was waiting, that didnt happen. if it had happened we would have won the chess match. they out physicaled the db's. you cant adjust to that unless you switch players or change the gameplan completely. the plan was sound, the execution not so much.

D-Day0043's picture


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BuckeyeEd's picture

Great summation of the game....not mentioned was the muffed punt, after "D" held and we had the momentum and a 2 score lead....I think we win the game w/o that muff. "D" does need fixed and I will Trust in Urban to take the needed steps to fix it. We as fans need to be less critical and more supportive of the players and coaches. Who cannot be proud of the effort these young men made all year. Go Bucks!!....I am already looking forward to next year.

Nicholas Jervey's picture

The muffed punt was crucial, as were the offensive turnovers. I focused on the defense because they'll get the lion's share of the blame and I wanted to help people consider that calling for firings as a kneejerk reaction is too rash. There's been mixed success with that so far.

Ceci n'est pas une signature.

Knarcisi's picture

Nicholas, to be fair, this defense has been poor for 3 years, and has peaked to its worst point. That's hardly knee jerk. 

BuckeyeStrong2's picture

Knee jerk reaction? For the love of God if I pay a "defensive coordinator" half a million dollars a year and he is not competent enough to grasp the idea of playing man f***ing defense... MAN UP (or at least a zone without a 75 yard WR cushion) with the talent that The Ohio State University has, he can get the hell out! Go coach HS somewhere else and learn how to be a real defensive coach!


brglr14's picture

cannot believe urban did not tell him to just secure the ball. fair catch. a return was not needed there.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


Turban Meyer's picture


4thandinches's picture

We give up the most passing yards allowed in Orange bowl history with 3, 4, and 5 star recruits but is has nothing to do with poor coaching? Fickell cannot coach and call D. Period. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

RoyWalley's picture


gwalther's picture

I noticed a lot of times it looked like we made the right defensive calls and players--mainly our defensive backs--just didn't make plays, particularly on a lot of the screens. That isn't a Fickell deal, that's a Coombs deal. Not turning around for deep balls or fade passes from the 5 yard line is also a Coombs deal.
We may like his energy and recruiting, but Coombs abilities as a position coach are still in doubt to me.

Class of 2008

Torpedo Vegas's picture

Vrabel's D-Line seems to be the only unit on the Defense that isn't completely non-functional. The LBs and DBs can't handle the fundamentals of their position like falling into the right zone consistently or playing the ball as a corner. You can make an argument that Vrabel has been given more to work with, but there's premiere athletes all over that field.

Crumb's picture

In regard to the defense I think everyone is in agreement that SOMETHING needs to be done between now and our opener against Navy. What that something is will be debated and talked about for the next 8 months.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

Flyermike's picture

This article is probably the worst thing I've read on this site. Urban says he doesn't like to blame anyone, which I take as code for him being extremely frustrated with his defensive coaches. Fickell can recruit, but his main job is to, you know, coach. The defensive schemes and play calls have been horrible the past three games. I think osu can find a defensive coordinator with a better track record for 700k per year. No adjustments all game. Gotta keep trying those corner blitzes! Smh

4thandinches's picture

Agreed. What do top talent recruits do for you if you don't develop them?

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Bloombergl's picture

We shouldn't be happy with the D.  It's not silver bullet caliber.  With Roby and Spence out versus a really good offense, I was fearful we'd give up 50+.  We did yield a boatload of yards and a ton of them on screens.  Hate that.  BUT - the D actually put us in the position to win this thing.  Some huge stops in the 2nd and 3rd (and at the end) kept us in it.  But when the O goes three and out a bunch and turnovers leave the D with a short field, not sure the major "blame" goes to the D.  Doesn't mean I'm happy with the D, though.

wolfman's picture

I agree.  I am not happy about the yards given up and the usual missed tackles, but you can tell those kids were playing hard.  They had a some big plays and the game could have easily went either way.

gwalther's picture

It's definitely Silolver Bullolet caliber though. HI-YO! #badjokes #lowhangingfruit

Class of 2008

Jdadams01's picture

The number one reason Fick needs to be let go is because the man NEVER adjusts. You did not see him adjust to anyone this year. The reason they have up so many yards and points at the end of the year is because once an opponent found something that worked, they knew they could go back to it 20 times because our D would never adjust to it. Good coaches change up. Like Herman in the first half. When Clemson was sending blitzes up the middle on every play, Herman started calling quick passes over the middle and we immediately scored two touchdowns. Our D never had a similar moment.

wolfman's picture

On a positive note, as the article pointed out, Jamal Marcus looked pretty good.  I think Armani Reeves played a pretty good game too!

RedStorm45's picture

He gave up how many yards to his man?  Ok.

wolfman's picture

Good question.  How many?

Metal Guru's picture

We all need to take a deep breath and repeat after me: Coaches coach and players play. Blown coverages, inability to get off blocks, ect, ect, that's on the players. The players get good coaching; better than they got in high school. The players have to execute for the team to have success.
Let's face it, not having the horses to compete ultimately falls on the head coach. He wasn't able to bring in the blue chippers on D and had to run off a few. From what I've seen in recruiting this year, the lack of talent is being addressed.
Like it or not, we are all going to have to give the process time and stop talking like a bunch of spoiled Alabama/Auburn/Texas/Michigan fans.

Torpedo Vegas's picture

Are the players getting good coaching if they can't consistently execute the fundamentals of their position? If I remember correctly they've had two top 5 classes in a row, so the raw talent should be there. The process just doesn't seem to be working. That, moreso that the questionable schematic decisions, troubles me. 

4thandinches's picture

^^^^^This. If it's one or two four/five star players not playing well, it's on those players. When it is the entire secondary it is on the coaching!

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

D-Day0043's picture

That defensive game plan was a flat out embarrassment. Clemson did nothing they haven't shown all year. And with a month to prepare, and getting paid top tier coordinator money, that was the best this staff could come up with. 
I bet Chad Morris was watching in disbelief saying, "Are these guys really that f**king stupid? We are going to screen you to death if you are that ignorant to play like that against us. We f**king love screens. Screens are basically 80% of our passing offense. Our best weapon is Sammy Watkins and he accounts for 2/3 of our offense and these morons aren't smart enough to have two men on him at all times."
Say what you want about not firing people, but a part time high school coaching staff could have came up with a better game plan than that. Chad Morris isn't an offensive genius, his play calling is as boring and predictable as ours. He runs the same 15 plays over and over just like we do. It isn't that hard to figure out.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

bull1214's picture

1st off, great story and im in absolute total agreement. if some of you weren't so shortsighted ud read ALL of the blame game posts and realize if you guys got ur way we probly wouldnt have any coaches or starters left! how can it be fickels fault when some declare our players suck! or that its coomb's fault! or its all because of braxtons non throwing ability! or its whithers and the safeties that have to go!......well? which is it? the answer is simple. all of the above and more needs improved play and development. the players are in midst of being upgraded in recruiting. the coaches are only able to do what they can with who they got but i believe they cant just wait for that so i do hope some minor to major adjustments can be made scheme wise over the off season.

D-Day0043's picture

People are out of position because of schematics. The players can't execute the basic fundamentals of the game because of coaching. 
Michigan State has  walk-on's, 2, 3, & 4* players playing at an elite level on defense because of coaching. We have 4 & 5* talent on defense playing 2* caliber because of coaching.
If your players can't execute the basic fundamentals of the game it is because the coaching staff doesn't identify the problems and fix them. When the players make the same mistakes over and over,  game after game, it's the coaches responsibility to identify the problem and get it fixed.
When a team doesn't get better as the year progresses, that is coaching. 
It is also the coaches job to have the next man up ready and prepared in case of injury.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

HotSauceCommittee's picture

I lead a small team at work. If their performance was subpar and stayed that way for three years I wouldn't still have a job.

Buckifan4Life's picture

Yep. Technique on defense is lacking and that comes from coaching. Shedding blocks is technique. Turning your head around on pass defense is technique. Tackling is technique. I can go on and on about how poor coaching technique has hurt this defense and I haven't even started discussing the poor defensive scheme yet.

Coach Meyer interviewed Mike Stoops last year for a reason and now he will have to make a change.

BuckeyeChris's picture

I agree, in general. There has to be a middle ground between "FIRE THEM!" and acknowledging that this is clearly an unacceptable level of defensive play for this program.
I do grant some margin for error given no Bryant, Roby, Spence and 1/2 a Bosa. You do have to take that in to account. However, does that mean our talent on defense without those guys equals Indiana's defense? That's not okay, either.
I do trust Urban, though. 

Torpedo Vegas's picture

They weren't exactly world beaters even with Roby and Spence in there. As to the middle ground, this coaching staff has been given two years to figure out how to make this defense work. If, after two years they are still making the same mistakes and performing at the same unacceptable level, isn't it ok to regrettably make a change? That's not exactly "FIRE THEM!"

Ethos's picture

I would also blame the ton of 3 and outs and 4 turnovers contributed a lot more then anything.  Those all put the defense at a disadvantage. Like Ross always says you can't win a game with a lot of three and outs and we had like 5!  That is rediculous. 
The defense gave up a lot but they also put that offense in several short yardage situations that the offense totally failed to capitalize. You are fuckin blind if you put this game on the defense. 

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

njclebuckeye5's picture

Whoever works with our secondary is the one who should be getting blamed. Coaching is awful, mental mistakes all year. 
I only played football through high school, but I don't get why we kept going horizontal on offense with all those bubble screens and especially the end around sweeps. It made us easy to stop and put us in 3rd and long, like on the 2nd to last drive. Even then, we ran play action on 3rd and 13, putting Braxton in a dangerous position when play action accomplished jack shit. Tom Herman is a great coordinator, but sometimes I feel like he's so smart he overthinks things. 

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

BuckeyeChris's picture

I don't like to pinpoint a single play, but the game clearly turned from a momentum and field position standpoint with the fumbled punt. That stuff happens. I am certainly not "calling out" Philly, but only pointing out that the Buckeyes were in position to go up 3 scores (not to mention run off some clock!) and instead... well, you know. 

nm_buck's picture

Spot on.  The D had just forced a punt... we were up two scores at the time.  A nice 5-6 minute scoring drive, even a field goal, would have allowed us to give the ball to Hyde time after time eating the clock in that 4th quarter, and keeping Watkins off the field.
Instead clemson was back in the game, and our offensive gameplan had to be changed to playing catchup... which meant Braxton had to throw more.  Which was bad because Braxton's aim was horrible last night.  His throw to Heuermann was awful... and the one he threw to Brown (who was also wide open) was so bad Brown had to sit down on the ground just to catch it.  
We weren't going to win throwing the ball.  Our only chance was to have a big enough 4th quarter lead that we could pound the ball with Hyde and run out the clock.
That fumble lost the game.  No slam on Philly... he's been a big part of this team.  Shame to see him go out like this.

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

CPBuckeye's picture

Do you honestly believe that the "Fire Fickell" stance is a kneejerk reaction to last nights game? Perhaps you didn't watch THE Game where our defense let Devon Gardner look like a Heisman candidate. Or the B1G championship game where they gave up 300 yards passing to Connor Cook. Six times this year the defense has given up 30 or more points. I've been frustrated with the defense ALL YEAR... so yes, it IS time to fire Fickell!

chemicalwaste's picture

I agree but you're late to the party. I couldn't take it last year or the year before that.

Exhortera's picture

I've wanted Fickell to "find a head coaching gig in the MAC" all season, this isn't a knee jerk reaction for me.


fanfarris's picture

How come no one is blaming withers like they did all year ?? Wasn't he still the Co-D at the clemson game ? I think he should go TOO.


buckeyepastor's picture

To me, it's still clear as mud how much Fickell is to be blamed.   One game where we were missing key personnel with Fickell as the lone DC doesn't really provide a base for firing him at all.  We spent the whole year with two DCs.  For all we know, Withers taking another job and leaving the program might help matters (Withers was the DC who also worked with a seriously under-performing safety unit).  
I do hope that Fickell can handle adversity with something more than his "well we won, didn't we?" response to things.   That was disappointing and a bit childish.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

OHIOST1087's picture

Under the circumstances (i.e. no Spence & no Roby), I would say our defense played better than I had expected. Coach Fickell may or may not need to be replaced, but as Maurice Clarett said last night:

Has Fickell made mistakes this game/season? Absolutely! But so has everyone else on this team AND coaching staff. I saw a lot of missed tackles last night, and throughout the season, especially behind the line of scrimmage. I don't understand why so many fans feel compelled to be so malicious and vile towards Fickell. Of course there are frustrations and this certainly isn't the level of defense we had recently been accustomed too during the Mike Doss to AJ Hawk through the James Laurinaitis years. But this is a man, first and foremost, and we call out classless/fake fans for threatening players but we don't hold ourselves to any high responsibility when it comes to calling out and threatening coaches? This guy was thrown into the fire, in the aftermath of the post-TP mess, a mere 3 months before camp began and managed 6 wins (including one of the best wins in Buckeye and E2B History over Berty & Co.)! Fickell just got us the #1 ILB of the 2014 class. Granted defensive changes need to happen, I'm not sure if that means letting Fickell go, or simply stripping him of his DC title, but lets lay off the death threats and vulgarities towards him and hold ourselves to a higher standard; none of us here in this community could have done any better with this team or last night against Clemson. Chad Morris was on Urban's radar for assistant coaches, so that alone should tell you the caliber level offense our young D was going to be up against. Sammy Watkins is a special talent, just like Tedd Ginn was here (especially at the Fiesta Bowl against ND). If you're honest with yourself, I doubt Roby would've fared much better against him, especially on a bum knee. I don't know what the exact best or the right solution is for fixing the defense, if anything it seems to be more than just replacing 1 assistant coach; but in any case, can we at least remember that at the end of the day Fickell is a man, husband, father, and a Buckeye, as well as a coach, and though he may warrant some blame for the latter, he ultimately deserves our respect for the former(s).

andretolstoy's picture

A. Reeves played his best game tonight.
Folks keep bringing up the screen. Well, it bugs me too. But teams run the screen on us because they can't run up the middle too successfully. That's where we're weakest, and there's really no adjustment to make there.
From what I've seen, I will never lay this years "12-2 woes" solely on the defense. Sorry guys. I'm just not the best sheep who follows the narrative - crowd. Just like all this talk about weak conferences, down conference years, etc etc. I have too much respect for the game, and for match ups to disrespect teams and coaches like that. All teams are worthy opponents. You think otherwise? Then you most like play the game from a bar stool. And that says more about you, than the game ...
I cannot for the life of me, however, figure out why coaches think Brax is the best player on the field, when it's really Carlos? He's the one we need to rely on. But they keep putting the game in Braxton's hands. No offense to him, but he needs to eat a few more loaves of bread before he becomes "El Guapo."

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Furthermore, bubble screens are supposed to be a constraint play that only works when the defense is misaligned or cheating toward the run. In Ohio State's case, the bubble screen was a play Clemson was able to exploit all night long, essentially becoming Clemson's base play.

The inability to deal with screens and other misdirection has been a persistent problem over the last two years. 

Nicholas - Other than the five hours after the game part, this reads to me like an endorsement of major staff changes for the defense.

andretolstoy's picture

No genius. When you have a depleted defense, there's going to be one formation that you're just not going to be in best position to defend - EVER. That's when you rely on leadership and athletes to make the difference and throw the other team off balance.
That's what we haven't been able to do all year. And Fickell isn't solely to blame for this.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

No. When you're down athletes, you do not rely on your athletes. You use scheme to take away what the offense wants to do. When you get screen after screen, you must take that play away. As for leadership, leaders emerge when you put them in a position to make plays.
Fickell may not deserve to be fired, I defer to Meyer on that, but your explanation makes no sense.

andretolstoy's picture

No. That's wouldn't expose the defense totally in order to stop a play that any 5 athlete should be able to break regardless of what scheme he should be put in.
But then again. I'm sure the coaches said, "The screen? Eh, that's not important. We won't even mention it in practice."
Yeah. Some of you guys know everything. You should have a direct line to the Coaches office to remind them what they're 'forgetting.'

Torpedo Vegas's picture

The screen? Not Important? The one play that had been consistently shredding them all year? I'd hope they'd at least mention it. And if they did mention it and the players are still consistently failing to play it properly, well then who is responsible for making sure these kids can execute the fundamentals of the game?

bull1214's picture

make no mistake about it, the gameplan was to take away the deep threat and MAKE them rely on the screens. they simply made the plays. sammy watkins deep more of a fear than watkins on a screen pass. he's simply that good and the draft will bear that out.

D-Day0043's picture

When a team keeps running a play over and over challenging you to stop it, and for four quarters you can't, that is the equivalent of their offensive coordinator laughing at you and telling you that you suck. 
As far as running, Clemson only runs jet sweeps with Watkins and Boyd keeps and runs up the middle. There should be two guys on Watkins at all times anyway because he is basically their entire offense. The fact that there wasn't was moronic.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

RedStorm45's picture

We had four weeks to prepare and THAT was what we got?  Look at what Clemson, Oklahoma, etc. did with their time off.

andretolstoy's picture

Are some of you guys even Ohio State fans? Prepare? Ever try to build a car engine with 2/3 the parts?

Turban Meyer's picture

Cumulative effect of 2 years of poor defensive play.  Can't change the players (other than new recruits), so you have to change the coaching to change the outcome. 

andretolstoy's picture

"cumulative effect of 2 years" A whole 2 years, eh?
You forget the just three years ago the program was teetering on the brink of destruction?
A lot, if not most, of the guys on our defense were still in high school three years ago.
Find me the coach that can build a defense like MSU in two years with all the injuries, and lack of leadership, and I'll pay for him.
Because it took Narduzzi two years?
Some of you guys are completely lost in your reality shows.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

FWIW, as bad as this defense played, OSU had a chance to win both games at the end and had the ball in plus territory with time to score. Add four second half turnovers too.
My point...the offensive players and coaches need to look in the mirror too. They did no favors for a defense they knew was shaky anyway and played without Spence and Roby.

BuckNutzGasMan's picture

I have been "anti-fick" since 6-7.
That being said. Without all the turnovers we still win that game.  I cant stand the bend not break mentality with soft coverage but without the two turnovers at 29-20 we win.
The last few weeks I have been preparing to go into mourning if Braxton leaves.  The kid has been a warrior and I repsect EVERYTHING he has done.  Will go down as one of the better QBs in CBus history.  But now I dont think Ill be that sad if we have to move on.  Accuracy is a HUGE issue in the offense.

andretolstoy's picture

Because what he did that year wasn't admirable? I keep asking (without an answer); why didn't Meyer come in that year and "save the day" if he was such a genius?
He loves Ohio State, right? Couldn't his ego have taken a .500 year?

nm_buck's picture

Another player who had a bad day was Shazier.  He missed a TON of tackles.  He had some good plays too, but he was certainly not the best defender on the team last night.  He didn't look like a high round NFL pick... neither did Braxton.
Bright spot in the gloom:  Our younger guys.  Bosa is a competitor.  Bell will be a great one. Reeves didn't do too bad against one of the nation's top receiver corps.  

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

brglr14's picture

i love how the D just gets ripped.  D didnt fumble punt throw 2 picks and fumble and keep the ball on 1st drive of 3rd qtr when O was rolling and we needed a half yard. oh yeah that was miller.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


Matt M.'s picture

Or... why firing the right people helps everything.
No, and it's time for you to go with that shitty attitude and inability to accept responsibility for your downfalls.
And if you don't think this falls on his shoulders, you have learned nothing this year. I keep seeing people putting it on the athletes, yet EVERYONE has been burned due to the way they've been coached. Fundamentals. They can't all be making the same stupid mistakes just because they don't have the talent. Nothing that could be rectified has been, period. Not only that, but I have seen NO hint that he thinks they NEED to fix it.
That, my friends, is a problem. Having said all that, I love this team and especially the seniors. All heart. Jack Mewhort is a champion. I love the way this guy carries himself on the field and in the media. I wish I could say the same for Fick.

andretolstoy's picture

Yes. I know. After how many interviews, the guy explodes in one of them and he hasn't been able to live it down since.
But then I again, I don't remember a reporter asking if Herman was going to have the QBs pass during practice since you know, Braxton is blowing it up with his arm and everything....
That was a reporting GEM.

andretolstoy's picture

Some of you guys "know" more than players that have been around the game 20 years+
Man, maybe you all should apply for the DC position.....maybe some of your wives or grandmothers could since even they know what's wrong with the Defense?

Turban Meyer's picture

I don't know how to fix the defense.  But I'm not sure Fickell/Whithers know how, either. 

Buckifan4Life's picture

Oh please...

We fans aren't blind. If this defensive staff could've figured it out by now, they would have. No more mulligans.

andretolstoy's picture

I was referring less about the ocular abilities, and more about the cognitive ... suit yourselves.

Buckifan4Life's picture

I think you are discounting the football IQ of Buckeye fans on here. Many of us have at least H.S. football experience and probably some college experience. Furthermore, you don't need to be a Physicist to understand the game well. Much of it is a numbers game strategically, the rest is technique and player talent level.

andretolstoy's picture

Football IQ requires more than just plain ole' 'brain thinking'.

chowoon97's picture

We have to fix our defense, and we need to hire a star co-DC. 
Braxton Miller should come back for another run.

Buckifan4Life's picture

One DC. This co crap needs to stop.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Yup. We've seen what happens with too many chefs in the kitchen.

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

THE Ohio State University

bull1214's picture

please stop with the "no more co-dc" complaining. its a title and more pay. one guy is calling plays just like one DC teams. we have assistants with the title assistant HEAD COACH. do you think they are stepping on urban's toes? lmao!!

Buckifan4Life's picture

We need a co athletic director then. Yeah, that'll fly..

Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

Vanilla makes great ice cream, pudding, milk shakes and cakes.  It sucks at defense.  How many years is it going to take before tOSU figures that out.
For years, tOSU was known for the Silver Bullets and NOT playing vanilla.  Right now, we have more 4* and 5* athletes on defense than ever before, yet things are worse.  To me that means its either schematic or coaching.  EIther way, something has to change and soon.

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

darbnurb's picture

I might be moving to the fire Fickel wagon soon, but Meyer summed up the defensive philosophy in his halftime interview.  "Just keep the play in front of you" meant that they are going to play soft coverage and zone (and had no problem giving up a zillion bubble screens). I wonder if the defensive problems actually go higher up the ladder?   

bull1214's picture

when a coach says they are wanting to just keep the plays in front of them thats coach speak for they either respect or fear the speed of the other teams offense. as they should have. it was a good gameplan that just didnt work.

BuckeyeMike2002's picture

We have watched this defense de-evolve over the last month of the season. When we talk about players who made plays Friday we come back to kids that Urban has recruited. Marcus, Bosa, Bell are UFM recruits so the future is bright and it should be.
Looking at the coaches, I will trust Urban to hire and fire but something has to happen. Would Jim Heacock come out of retirement? The last time the Silver Bulletts were the Silver Bulletts Heacock was the DC and Fickell was the Co-DC.
I wish we could put Urban Meyers offense on the field and then send out Jim Heacock's defense.  The future is bright we are recruiting great players but to allow scUM, Sparty, and Clemson to basically get a marathon worth of yardage just isn't acceptable with the quality of kids we're putting out there.
We knew the defense would be the weak spot going in. Has it gotten better? Have they improved over the 14 game schedule. Even if we had won the Orange Bowl 42-40 changes in defensive staff would be necessary.
How many points would our secondary give up to Florida State? We would actually match up better with Auburn because they run the ball more.  Florida State would score 60 and Auburn would score 40.
There is talent on the field but it isn't being put into position the way it needs to be. That is what coaching is supposed to do.

Q: What is the difference between the Michigan Football Team and a bag of crap. A: The Bag.