Looking Ahead: What if... UFM changes DC?

MordenoftheSith's picture
December 3, 2013 at 12:15p

I know some folks are blaming Fickell for the Silver Bullet issues this year and last and I am not entirely convinced the issues on D are all on Fickell. 

Coaches coach to wrap up, but that doesn't mean the players still don't try for the highlight reel hit (and whiff).  Coaches coach to keep the man in front of you, but that doesn't mean the players won't try to jump a route to get a pick six (instead they fall for the double move).  Both scenarios, though well coached, have been occurring this year, along with the big play that accompanies the misses.  At the end of the day, the players have to make the smart play.

With that said, if UFM decides to change DCs, who do you think will be our new DC? 

Will he stay in house with someone like Vrabel or Coombs?  Would either of them be much better than Fickell? 

If he chooses to go outside of tOSU, who do you think he could entice?  Would he go after someone in the B1G or from that defensive juggernaut know as the $EC?

I don't think I'm ready to pull the plug on Fickell and Company just yet, only because I don't know who would be better.

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740buckeye's picture

If Fickell goes then I think Coombs and Withers should be out as well. Vrabel is safe, his unit is the only one that's not suspect. Honestly I'd really like to see Spielman brought in as the linebackers coach, but we need a proven DC, no glorified position coach who will be in over his head. I wouldn't mind Heacock being back, but from what I've heard he's not interested. At this point I feel like almost anything would have to be an improvement because our defense has been a joke for multiple years now, with no real signs of improvement and one common denominator - Fickell.

gobucks5413's picture

Our defense has been a "joke" for "several" years???? C'mon man

4thandinches's picture

2011, 2012, and 2013. I would count that as several.

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

dwcbuckeye's picture

I would count that as a "few"

FormerBuck's picture

Not sure why you think Coombs and Withers would be out as well.  They are guys that Urban brought in.  He was forced to keep Fickell.  I think it's a foregone conclusion that Fickell is gone after this season and I think Urban already has a short list of guys to replace him.

Seth4Bucks's picture

Just to clear up a misconception, he wasn't 'forced' to keep anyone on the Buckeye staff. He sat down and talked with Fickell and that's when he decided to retain Fickell on the staff.

Doc's picture


CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

DudeNick4's picture

I like that call... I always kinda liked Mark Snyder, but ahh... that Aggie Defense is a dumpster fire too...

RedStorm45's picture

I wonder if he pushes Fickell out (to FAU for example) and lets Withers run the show solo.
Vrabel is getting a ton of credit for working with a young D-Line and rightfully so.  Sure, those guys are 4 and 5 stars, but so are the LB's.  How long have we been harping on the LB play?  Who's their coach?  Exactly.

Frankly Scarlet's picture

We should be careful what we wish for in terms of a Vrabel or similar being promoted. Being a solid position coach does not necessarily equate to successfully scheming and calling an entire defense. As my WWII hero Grandpa used to say, not all good soldiers make good generals.

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

Toilrt Paper's picture

Fickell is a CO-defensive coordinator. Withers has more to do with the back end of the defense and Fickell more so with the front end of the defense.
This is Meyers THIRD 20+ game win streak. I doubt he has fired anyone during one of those streaks. 

ChicagoBuckeyeFan's picture

We must hire Heacock. 

"Make him an offer he can't refuse"

dustinccc's picture

I get Withers is responsible also, however, Fick is the one making the calls on game day. 

setman's picture

The scheme is the one that was run at NC when Withers was there. It is safe to assume that was one of the reasons that Urban brought Withers in and named him co-DC in the process. Urban wants this scheme as the overall defensive game plan. Luke has always been part of a more aggressive blitzing scheme before and would most likely be running a similar one now if it were up to him. If you are not a fan of the scheme, blame Urban. And that is why Urban has had Luke's back despite all of the criticisms from random pizza delivery guys, and online messageboard experts.

Now, that being said, execution is where Urban expects more and is pushing for more from his defensive coaches. Missed and broken tackles, blown assignments are all things that I am sure are driving him crazy. But that blame can be spread around that entire defensive staff.

Finally, what seems to be the biggest deficiency for the defense this year is upperclass leadership. Shazier for all of his excellence is a lead by example guy, rather than a "pump your teammates up" type of guy. No one seems to be taking on that Zach Boren/John Simon type of leadership on that side of the ball. The offense has plenty of leadership, defense (for all of the talent) seems to lack it.

BuckeyeVet's picture

@Setman - Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been saying exactly the same thing. I do NOT understand why so many people think Fickell is the problem here. Fickell, if turned loose (like the latter part of the schedule in 2012) runs a very aggressive Heacock/Pagic/Dantonio type defense. Look how much better our defense was last year in the Michigan game. And I don't think our coaches suddenly got stupid & forgot how to teach tackling. That's on the players.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

Whoa Nellie's picture

How about Vance Bedford?  D coordinator at Louisville and former D backs coach at FL under UFM. 

“Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”

hansman's picture

I would definitely give him a look.

hansman's picture

We have two top ten defenses in our state in Bowling Green and Cincinnati. Why not give one of those guys a look? This is assuming we were looking of course like the question asks.

Whoa Nellie's picture

Hard not to be impressed with the Ville's defensive rankings.  Admittedly, though, I was looking for a connection to UFM.

“Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”

Maestro's picture

I have a feeling there will be some changes made.

vacuuming sucks

Frankly Scarlet's picture

Lol, what's the Zooker up to these days? Helluva recruiter! 

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

VintonCountyBuck's picture

I like the Ron Zook idea.

He coached and recruited some of the greatest DB's in the Buckeye's history.

That alone would allow for a much more aggressive game plan.

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

d5k's picture

Meyer will likely not fire Luke, but Luke (and others) might get a HC job.  I'm not sure whether conversations happen like "I encourage you to take that Mountain West opening (because otherwise I might have to outright fire you)".  In that case I expect an external hire of someone very few of us have heard of.
All of that said, whoever the DC is job #1 is developing the stud players we are recruiting so we never have the issue we currently have at LB and Safety.  You can rag on scheme all you want but the fact is we are handcuffed into not playing certain schemes because there are basically 2-3 guys on the field at any given time that can't handle the basic stuff even.  We tried to play cover 4 last year and failed because the safeties couldn't do it.  Switching between cover 4 and cover 3 led to huge coverage busts and poor run fits.  So now we run cover 3 mostly and struggle to cover the flats and hook zones because our LB's are not good in coverage.  Things like dropping 8 guys into coverage should lead to more coverage sacks and tight throws than touchdowns.  Changing scheme doesn't solve nearly all the problems although player development and roster management somewhat falls on Fickell's shoulders as well.  The fact is we recruited several top 50 overall type LB's in Tressel's last few years and only 1 has developed into a stud and some high expectations guys have left the program.  The Meyer/Fickell recruits in the bandaid class have not got it done although Perry is getting better.  In a far less than ideal world Perry would still be a backup though.  And obviously Mike Mitchell just wasn't ready and got hurt in camp to top it off.  We had a huge LB depth problem last year and that got worse this year so to expect a top 10 defense is asking a TON.  Add the Bryant season-ending injury and the Curtis Grant injury and you have some major holes on the defense.  Again, if Vonn Bell was ready we would be getting more out of the safety/nickel positions combined (assuming Powell would move to FS).

Statutoryglory's picture

Perry will get better.  His problem isn't athletic.  He was state runner up behind Devin Smith in the long jump.  He just needs time.  Shazier was rough his first 6-8 starts too.  They would be trying someone else or bringing over a full back if they didn't think he could do it.

TennesseeBuckeye's picture

I don't think Urban Meyer is going to fire his D coordinator the week of the B1G Ten Championship, lets not forget a lot of guys have been banged up, we have even lost a Captain this year. One thing you can say this D doesn't quit. Who knows maybe during the break Fickle may take a head coaching job somewhere else. If not I'm sure after the Bowl game changes will be made. No problem with people complaining, but it isn't going to change the way UFM does business. Right now his focus is doing whatever he can to patch the holes, firing Fickle now will cause anger by the Defense players and would be a huge DISTRACTION to the team. And a new coach coming in this week wouldn't be able to get his schemes in any ways. So as far as criticism goes I'll save it until we lose or the season ends. UFM watched the same game you and I did, and he gets to watch the coaching film as well. Changes are coming, but not now.
I have enough confidence that our offense can out score any team in the land. And enough in our defense that they can make the stop when needed, otherwise we wouldn't be 24-0. No doubt if the want to keep the streak going, the D is going to have to make changes but a complete change now would be detrimental for the rest of the season. 

I may not be able to outsmart too many people, but I can outwork 'em.
Woody Hayes

Zy's picture

I think they mean after the bowl game

FitzBuck's picture

How about .....wait for it.....Madden?
he can call up a kid and use the dialog from the game and boom commitment.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Clinger76's picture

When we win the championship game in Jan. why the hell would you fire anyone!!?? Yeah, the defense is suspect most games but they are 'mostly' young, except  the DB's and we will have new guyscoming in that have only ben coached by Fick. I say, give him one more year together if he doesn't go for another HC job. But, he is a lifer at The Ohio State University so....... we will see

"If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats, But if you take no risks, you will earn no victories."

Toilrt Paper's picture

Fickell is CO-defensive coordinator. If Fickell is fired we still have Withers. Wither's is essentially in charge of the back of the defense and Fickell is in charge of the front of the defense. What part of the defense has been the biggest problem?
You must think Ohio State is going to  lose their next 2 games.
Has anyone ever been fired after a 26 game win streak and a National Title???

qaid's picture

Wins are nice, but imagine having both a great offense (Urban) and defense (not Fickell). Imagine someone like Tress as our DC and that's a recipe for us continuously being good year after year, even if we had a stronger strength of schedule.

BierStube's picture

If UFM does make a change at DC ... get ready for several hundred fire Coach _____ threads!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

NJ_BUCKEYE's picture

I think UFM hired Heacock this past summer to work on the back room staff to help maybe mentor Fickell. I thought maybe it was a way of helping Fickell become better at game planning and play calling.  I know Meyer said he would be breaking down film for OSU's opponents, but maybe giving him a raise and the DC job again would be a good idea if Fickell leaves to be a HC.
P.S. I am surprised there aren't more people making jokes about fans being Fickell...

Toilrt Paper's picture


bucked up's picture

I think all this "Fire Coombs" talk is fan hysteria. He's only in charge of cornerbacks, not the entire defense.
-Yes, tackling has been an issue. CBs need to improve in that respect. But at the same time, I'm sure some of them have been tentative about hitting because of the way the game is officiated these days. Unfortunately I think we will see plenty more missed tackles throughout football in the coming years. Just something to think about
-Roby isn't as good as he was last year but he's still solid. He was a finished product last season. I don't know if he had much more room to grow after '12, regardless of who was coaching him.
-Doran Grant and Armani Reeves have both been pretty good for first year players. We also saw flashes of what Cam Burrows could do against Indiana.
-Our special teams have been tremendous under Coombs. We wouldn't have a punter if not for him.

cuttyrock's picture

The only constant in the defense since it has been playing poorly is Luke Fickell. Withers and Coombs didn't coach the lb 4 years when Wisky ran over us. LB couldn't shed a block the whole game. They also didn't coach the defense 3 years ago when we lost 7 games. Fickell is the one constant. Bend but don't brake doesn't really work. Evaluate recruits better and get better db's and lb's. Just about every one on Sparty's defense was passed over by us and went to them. Allen, Rush, Waynes, Drummond and others were overlooked. It's not talent as much as it is coaching. I never saw Pitt Brown as a db. He was a great wr in high school and he doesn't love contact. Let's stop the experiment with athlete moving to safety. Recruit big cb or natural safeties to play safety. Safeties must enjoy contact. We have talented lb's imho we just don't have competent coaching at that spot. Sometimes you must dumb it down for people who are not on your level and I'm not sure Fickell does that. A fr can come in and start but it's easier when you condense your playbook and reads a lb must make to get him to play fast. The last good lb group we had together are Marcus Freeman, Larry Grant, and little Animal several years ago. My dad always says "if you have one continual problem and you are the only constant then your the problem."

byblosbuck's picture

Right on Rock. Fickell must go. He remindes me of cooper ,who never took the blame.He always blamed someone or something else.

BuckeyeFreak4844's picture

Wow just Wow!

Michigan Sucks!

nrobinsonpe's picture

I fear that if Fickell goes (to become a HC somewhere) that Vrabel goes with him.  Vrabel retired immediately from the NFL upon his best friend asking him to come coach in Columbus.

amk1616's picture

no question he would follow him and become Def Coord.

TraptnMI's picture

Vrabel and Spielman make my wish list combo. Misdirection and double moves seem to always work against our over pursuing D. Why won't these kids stay at home? Cornerbacks need to get up on their man, jam, take away the slant and force them to the outside(IMO). This    takes pressure off the LB's in coverage and takes away that quick screen to the sideline that seems to work 9 out of 10 F-in times!

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "