1. I think Fickell is the guy everyone is piling only because he's the face and name we know. I think for all we know the struggles could very well lie more in the lap of Withers, but we don't know him, the camera never shows him, so we don't blame him. Fick studied under Heacock, he was integral to some of the best defenses of the Tressel era and I disagree with the calls to fire him. With Withers leaving I think the move should be to ditch the co-DC thing and put Fickell in charge 100%. If we continue to struggle then I'll stand corrected.
2. Additionally on the defensive side of the ball we were playing with so many injuries and so much youth that no one should've ever expected our defense was going to win the game. In fact, in some ways they played above my expectations by forcing a few really huge turnovers (int's & safety). We cannot forget about those plays because they absolutely kept us in a game we didn't belong in. This unit lost a lot of seniors from last year and will certainly be better next year and the following.
3. Credit to Swinney/Morris for coming up with a smart gameplan! They knew they would have to pass because we can stop the run. (as for the 1,000 screens, we were in a lose/lose scenario. bring tighter coverage to line of scrimmage and a 10 play 80 yard drive gets shrunk to 1 play because we'd get burnt over the top). They went away from our defensive strength took what we were giving. That's smart offensive gameplanning/adjusting.
4. If only Urban/Herman had also come up with (and adjusted to) a great gameplan! We wasted far too many possessions (several 3 and outs) because we tried to pound Hyde into 8-man fronts! Clemson came to this game to stop our run and it seemed Urban/Herman insisted 'no no, we're going to run right into that for 3 yard gains.' It was Tressel/Bollman-like lunacy at times. When we did pass the ball we slashed their secondary for huge gains - because their numbers were in the box. We needed to be throwing the ball downfield, putting pressure on their secondary to respect Braxton's arm and our WRs/TEs. Throw to set up the run! Had we done that then we could've pounded them with big doses of Carlos Hyde as the game wore on.
5. Our special teams, particularly Johnston is incredible. Everyone should be incredibly happy with the game he played consistently putting Clemson back in their own end.
6. The hurry-up spread offense is new to Ohio State fans. We're all much more accustomed to 13-9 bruisers. The hurry-up power spread offense has an affect on the defense as it will be on the field more. Now in this game it was interesting because we had both teams employing very similar offenses. All you need to do is look at arguably the best defensive minds in college football. How did Saban and Smart handle Texas A&M, Auburn and Oklahoma (all teams that operate hurry-up spread offenses) this year? It's nearly impossible for even the best defenses to stop. It's exciting football! The scores are big, turnovers are crucial and you rely on your offense to continue putting points up. And finally one of the biggest factors is that wears defenses down physically and emotionally. So while we're so eager to get our defense back to the days when we only gave up 9 points per game, it simply may never happen as long as we operate with a hurry-up power spread offense.
The takeaway for me is that the defense was up against a top-notch offense (far beyond the level of a Michigan State or anyone else we'd seen this year) and they did what they could given the tough injuries and general youth. And again, don't forget about the game saving turnovers they created. In a game in which we were outgained in total yards by 150 yards we only needed 6 more points to win the game. Our potent offense should really be able to come up with scoring 6 more points and I'm certain Urban and Herman know that.