OSU Defense: The Dead Horse Beaten Edition

ziplock007's picture
January 4, 2014 at 10:24p

Urban Meyer wants a top ten defense... I'd settle for #11.  Here's Why:

  • Teams can't win titles without a great defense... OSU's defense is not great, it's not bad, it's horrendous.
  • It's they gave up 16 TDs in the last 3 games bad.
  • It's Illinois, in the midst of a 20 game B1G losing streak, scores 35 points bad.
  • It's Michigan is having the worst offensive season of our lifetimes but still zings OSU for 600+ yards and 41 points bad.
  • It's 1-11 Cal scoring there only game beyond 30 points bad.
  • It's 1-7 in the B1G Northwestern passing for 85% bad!
  • It's OSU must score at least 35 points to beat a below average team and nearly 50 to defeat a good team bad.

Being in Los Angeles, I made the trek up to Berkley to see the Fightin' Guitons defeat Cal 52-34.  I was instantly amazed at Cal's quick strike - no huddle offense.  Jared Goff torched the then heralded elite OSU secondary for 371 yards and 3 TDs (and another should've been TD that was dropped).  Post Game synopsis: "Cal may not be the greatest team, but they're gonna score lots of points"...

Nope: 34 points was the most Cal scored all year (vs. FBS) and nearly twice their PAC-12 average of 19.  In the we-barely-play-defense-Pac 12 Goff Averaged 245 yards and 1.2 TDs per game en route to their laughable 1-11 (0-9 Pac-12) season.  I know you're curious; their sole win was a 37-30 edging of FCS Portland State.  Cal was hapless, yet OSU needed 5 TDs for the W.

Unfortunately, a below average QB moving the ball up and down the field at will was the theme for the once heralded Silver Bullets.


Where is all the talent on defense?

  • Pete Fiutak noted that Alabama has 32 4 & 5 star Defensive recruits the last 4 years.  Sounds impressive, except OSU has 34 4 & 5 star defensive recruits in the same span.
  • Where did all the depth go?  (Typically, when you out recruit Bama you shouldn't be bereft of backups)
  • Is it just bad coaching?  I thought Cal's offensive coordinator was amazing, he had that secondary fooled all night.  Even Roby was duped...  Of course the secondary's "off night" turned into an "off season."
  • Fickell was an amazing Linebacking Coach, so his talents should translate to Defensive Coordinating.  Then again, if you're an exemplary waiter, does that make you a superb Maitre'D?
  • Fickell and Withers (funny how we forget they were CO-DC's) built the nation's 102nd best Pass Defense without the 102nd best recruits or the 102nd best facilities or the 102nd paid coaching staff.

Bottom Line: OSU's defense is closer to Indiana's than Alabama's.


Stop Blaming Braxton Miller for the loss(es)

Braxton is an amazing college QB.  Next year He would start on all but ~10 of the 123 CFB teams.  Yet, for some reason 11W posters blame Braxton... :(

  • It's not his fault that 35 points is no longer good enough for an OSU victory.  FACT: Going into the game, everyone KNEW that 35 points wouldn't suffice... when was the last time an OSU fan thought that?
  • It's not his fault OSU lost the B1G title game; somehow dropping 24 points against the best defense in America with a Jim Bollman led Offense ain't good enough.
  • Put an AVERAGE defense (say Arizona State's) on the team and OSU wins the national title... and Braxton is the most cherished Buckeye of your lifetime.


PS - Cal Fans are lame.  Northern California (or NorCal to the locals) is too busy growing organic Kale to care about football.

PPS - OSU's Pass defense will likely drop below 102 via predictable to all but OSU Sammy Watkins bubble screens.  102nd is regular season only.  You get the idea.

Comments Show All Comments

CentralFLBuckeye's picture

Agree with your comments and unfortunately this dead horse deserves to be beaten.

ziplock007's picture

Thanks... I still don't understand how constant top 10 recruits turned out this performance.  Why does Minnesota have a better defense? When I look back at the Bollman days I realize you can't blame the elite recruits...  I can't blame the players now.

Crumb's picture

Yeah seeing a guy like Alex Boone being an elite high school player and now a good guard in the NFL but he couldn't block up a toilet when he was here and made no improvement from true freshman to senior tells it wasn't a lack of talent on his part. Same goes with plenty of other lineman under Bollman and our defense now.

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

wolfman's picture

And to your point, look at our O-line now...one of the best around!

Exhortera's picture

It needs to be beaten as much as our defense gets beaten by the screen pass. Beaten over and over until it's fixed.

BuckGnome's picture

Excuse me while I flog this pony one more time.
This defense is putrid.

buckeyedude's picture

The way with which you beat that dead horse, Ziplock007, has no equal. That was a very poignant and masterful account of the difficulties for the 2013 Silver Bullets.
How people could ever be confused as to where the blame for this underperforming group belongs, is simply amazing. It's as obvious as Brady Hoke's food addiction.



saltybuck61's picture

I am not a fan of beating a dead horse, as I am sure most people aren't, but that was an excellent piece. The most shocking stat to see was the recruits that were being pulled in, but the lack of success on the defensive side.
I don't know how they are going to fix it, but the defensive side of the ball will need some kind of coaching turnover. Perhaps Withers's replacement will change things drastically.

darbnurb's picture

How many season highs did opposing QB's or receivers have against the bucks.  Seems like every game I watched I saw a "season high"

wolfman's picture

That is perhaps one of the most disturbing facts.

Athens BuckCat's picture

Agreed. Hopefully next year will see marked improvement for our D

Liening's picture

Ziplock007 -- great commentary.  We all knew the defense was bad, but I had no idea it was as bad as your data and comments show.  Add me to the list of people who are mystified how we can have the high level of athletes we do on defense, and the low level of performance we have seen.  If it is not the coaching, then what?


BoFuquel's picture

Whorerendous, 'nuff said. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Jonnferrell's picture

I haven't been a fan of the defense flogging, but this is an excellent post.  Very good points on the state of the defense.  

"I miss Brady Hoke."

Ethos's picture

Finally a post on the defense with data to back it up.  Excellent post. 

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

tennesseebuckeye11's picture

This is a great post, any single one of these points could be dismissed as some statistical anomaly.  However together they paint a picture of a defense that is absolutely terrible.  You can't deny how bad Cal turned out to be, 35 points put up by Illinois,  41 points by a terrible Michigan team, Michigan St. getting 34 and Northwestern getting 30.  We all new going into this Orange Bowl what was going to happen, and to be honest I was disappointed with the loss but not shocked.  Honest fans knew we were not a top team, I secretly hoped that is was just a case of "We need to get better" but week after week we weren't better and it wasn't lack of talent.  We are just poorly coached. We have been plagued by missed tackles, taking poor angles to the ball and making poor, if any adjustments during games.  It has been that way for the past two years.  Don't tell me it is a lack of talent because Michigan St. is doing much more with less.  Watching some of the buckeye defenses of years past the difference is shocking.  Nobody had their best offensive output of the year against us, ever.  Many times the defense had to bail out a sputtering offense.  35 points always won the game.  It started to seem like Urban would slow down the quick strike offense just to keep our defense off the field, they were that much of a liability.  Talent we got and will always be able to get, good coaching make this defense good, great coaching would turn them into an Ohio St defense we are used to seeing.

ziplock007's picture

Michigan State isn't the only team doing 'more with less'.

CharlieBuckeye's picture

What do these names have in common - Clements, Doss, Gambel, Whitner, Chekwa, Whitfield? I am leaving a lot of great names off the list but these people not only could cover - they also tackled in space.
On rare occasions would they miss an assignment. They knew how to play zone and communicated effectively so each person knew their assignments. Wrong angles and pursuit were rarely a problem. 
At least back in the days of our Bend but don't break defenses- opposing teams did not score at will. Our D coordinators knew when to dial up a blitz. The Defense of those years was controlled but also caused chaos.
I hope the young guys we saw play this year continue to develop and the coaching staff turns back the clock and looks back on what the previous defenses did. Better yet- study MSU forward and backward and play D like them.

"To have a great life simply follow this rule:  Do not bring undo conflict into your life..."

Charlie Baker - OSU - 1986

buckeyedude's picture

and Shawn Springs.

Ironically, when Fickell, Vrabel and Finkes played, OSU had a damn good defense. This(the OSU defense) is going to be the focus, I believe and hope, all through spring and into next summer.



gm3jones's picture

No way it is not. I actually don't count on Urban to sleep much during this offseason-- the nightmares, oo the nightmares have to be killing him (like all of us). I mean I still find myself getting chills when I think of them taking the field again next year. That is sad.... Reallly sad. No way does that not get Urban Frank Meyer's full and undivided attention during this offseason.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Excellent post!  And if you don't mind, since the horse is dead, I'm going to go grab a cow to beat to death and beyond.  Mmm steak.  Then a pig if necessary.  Mmm bacon.
If you score 35 points and still lose the game, you might suck at playing defense. 
And that's even if the offense could've played better and scored more (which they could've).

Class of 2010.

buckeyedude's picture

Since you quoted Jeff Foxworthy, I'll quote Larry and say we(the D) DIDN'T GIT-R-DUN.



Mush's picture

Best blog since the game....period
UFM has an estimated coaching shelf life of 10 years, he needs to nail his next hiring

Jhesse17's picture

Simple solution: Down with the cover 3!!!! You rarely see it in college for a reason. I'd like to see a LOT more cover 2.

gm3jones's picture

Totally agree. You can be more aggressive with that then cover three. They might be able to teach to press the receivers also? That would be a first in IDK how long.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

SHAKENBAKE68's picture

There is no such thing as "friendly fire"..

Bucks777's picture

Great post and love the stats, they paint a perfect picture of what is wrong with our team, it is not the Offense , which can only get better with time.  However, when you score 35 points you should always win. Defense is the cornerstone of every championship team, without it you will never be a champion!
I am intrigued at the 102 pass defense ranking, does that put us below Akron or toledo??
Enough said...
what happened to the way our defense attacked and was planned out for the Penn State game. If anyone has time re watch that game, we played completely different that night than any other all season, It was mixture of great blitz packages and a swarming to the ball mentality, not sure what created that, but it was nice to watch!!!  Our DB's even played close up and personal with their WR.
Should stick with that plan.

Bucks777's picture

True Story:
I saw a 5'9" Defensive Back in a game against a 6'4" Wide Receiver. Completely out matched the WR weighed 215, and the DB weighed 170.  Not to mention the height advantage.  The WR was a top HS prospect went on to play D1;  the DB was a no name and was going to D3.  what I witnessed was simply a matter of will power!
The DB coach told him prior to the game that the WR he was going up against was going to hurt some of his family members and do specific bad things to them (the coach of course was using psycology to get the DB pumped up) and the coach made a bet with him, not to hurt the WR but to hit him every play as hard a s he could legally and try to take him off his game..
What do you think the result was ?
To make a long story short the WR (who went on to a stellar D1 career) said to his coach in the 3 rd qtr that he needed to come out of the game, he was tired of being hammered all game by this DB. The coach I found out later had seen what was happening and was hoping the WR would have asked out sooner, he asked hi WR did you do something to that kid or one of his family members?  ironic.
He of course said no, which he had done nothing, but in the mind of that DB he had it coming and he never let up, the WR ended the game with 2 catches for 6 yards total.  He was hurt on a few plays and had to come out, he was manhandled from the first snap until the beginning of the 3rd quarter when he asked to come out.  The DB went on to play at D3 school.
  Mental preparedness is 90% of the game!
I watched in disbelief and later found out what the coach had done to motivate the much smaller DB and it worked he destroyed the much larger kid, because in his mind this was beyond football this was family!! 
I believe we have guys in our defensive Backfield that could do the same thing to any WR if they were motivated to do so!
I wish someone would have waxed Sammy Watkins on his 1st catch of the game and everyone of the catches after that, but I only saw him really take one hit all night long in the end of the 3rd qtr.
Will somebody please HIT someone, like you want to take their head off, this is football !!!!

CPDenn's picture

Right, because from everything we've seen from Coombs, he definitely doesn't fire these guys up at all. 
You're giving one example, that has nothing to do with this team, or any players on this team.

Bucks777's picture

Our DB's are playing in a soft zone coverage, and have been taught this style of play. It is a fact when DB's stay in this type of coverage over a long season they become soft and are not physical when it comes to tackling. 
This is why we see so many missed open field tackles and guys looking around for someone else to make the tackle. soft zone breeds soft DB's

Bucks777's picture

Coombs is a cheerleader; and in way in over his head as a coach!

buckeyedude's picture

I agree with your comments here Bucks777. I saw our corners lined up 8 yards off the LOS, and then when the ball was snapped by Boyd, they IMMEDIATELY started backpedaling, rather than trying to jam the WR. It was pathetic. They(the cornerbacks) looked defeated to me.
I wish I could provide the clip.



gm3jones's picture

No need to. They ran that coverage at least 500+ times. I am sure EVERY single fan here has seen that soft coverage and what it leads to: 102nd ranked pass D.
And Bucks777, your second comment about being in soft zone makes you soft is spot on. I wish I could UV you 100 times. I played corner in my HS football days and my coach said same thing to me all the time. And of course the we now have the results of what happens when we do that (see stat above). Excellent post, sir.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

Bucks777's picture

Woody Hayes would be going crazy; if he could see this soft defense!

cuttyrock's picture

Unfortunately we've had terrible coverage break downs and the scheme is terrible. We don't have that marquee style of we are better than you man for man and will play man to man. We will blitz more than you can block and hit your qb until he looks like a deer in headlights. We've had in the last three years atleast 7 High school All Americans in the secondary. I've counted not including this year over 17 defense players who are high school All Americans. Every starter but two will be a high school All American next year. Spence, Washington, Bosa, and Bennett on d line. C Grant at lb and Bell, Bryant, D Grant, and Reeves in the secondary. Man up and be aggressive. If you can't man up in the secondary your not going to play professional football and that's just fact.

southbay's picture

Wow Ziplock, that was a tour de force! Outstanding! I think that horse is going to keep on taking a beating, until the Silver Bullets rise again.

bucknut94's picture

I didn't expect a great defense this year considering the players we lost from last year's defense. In addition, the Buckeyes defense was plagued with injuries this year. I believe the defense will show alot of improvement next year with players having another year of experience and freshmen coming in to contribute in the secondary.

Actorjonnyb's picture

and a real defensive coordinator


BuckeyeVet's picture

@ZipLock - 100% agree. And I would add 1 more point. I never saw the junior/senior leadership step up and demand better from their fellow players. For example, I think Ryan Shazier is a better linebacker than Zach Boren, but Boren may be a better leader. And it took something like Boren's sacrifice, effort, and LEADERSHIP (along with John Simon's) that brought that defense together. I know I wasn't in the locker room, but on the field it we didn't have clear leadership & a motivating force this year.

"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".

buckeyedude's picture

I agree with your comment, but leadership starts with the coaches. If they seem clueless, the players feed off of that. I personally believe the players lost confidence in the D coaches and their scheme.



Bucks777's picture

I agree, I watched the games closely for someone to step up ,outside of themselves, and start beating on players helmets and trying to get some enthusiasm going on the defensive side of the ball, just was never there all year long!!!

Bamabucknut's picture

I could not agree more.Until we replace some coaches on defense our offense will be in a perpetual shootout.A shootout we have proven we cannot survive ...even when the competitor is not a top 10 team.

RedStorm45's picture

Honestly, can you find a worse defense in OSU history?  A worse two year stretch?  Three years? I miss Tressel and/or Heacock.
Records set every freaking week! Orange Bowl records.  Connor Cook career high record.  Michigan records.  This was the "record player" defense!!
Re: Braxton, I don't think anyone is blaming him, but he's usually for 1-2 turnovers a game, if not more.  Needs to tighten that up next year.

doodah_man's picture

I agree with your comments on defense. However, I take serious exception to your comments about kale growth. I am very fond of kale, as well as chard, lightly tossed in olive oil and cooked with a hint of garlic. Next time, get your facts correct on leafy vegetables! 

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

buckeyemike 45's picture

need to press the wide outs, we give them to much space to operate in.. when we ever learn  stop  he bubble screen..we need new thinking on how we play defense..

Doesntwork's picture

how many points would Bauserman score on this defense?

doodah_man's picture

That's a great question. Maybe do it as its own post. tOSU offense vs tOSU defense with Bauserman  as QB.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

ziplock007's picture

Since Bauserman routinely over threw receivers by 10 yards, the DBs would rack up interceptions.

andretolstoy's picture

It's not about blaming anyone. But if Miller's performance, i.e. not being able to consistently deliver a high efficiency pass, along with mental breakdowns, turnovers, etc. is not seen as one of the reasons for poor team performance, then we really have lost all sense of reality. His play put us in holes just as much as it was spectacular and exciting.
It was our defense that kept us in both the Northwestern and Wisconsin games, while Braxton was struggling. Literally in those games, his play put us in a hole and the defense stopped the hemorrhaging. They didn't shut those teams out, but they sure kept the team afloat. We could have easily lost both of those games.

Ebvine96's picture

Nothing more frustrating than watching our corners play opposing WRs all year and giving them 10 yard cushions.  Seems like all we need is a philosophical change on defense, press man coverage and blitz a little more.  We got eaten alive in our zone packages and seemed to be much more effective coming on blitzes. We certainly have the personnel (ie athletes) to play this way.  Need to play defense the same way we play offense under Meyer.  

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Soft zone coverage is the biggest issue in my opinion. If I were a defensive back I would feel like the coaches don't believe in my ability. We have a roster loaded with talent we can't coach defensively. It's depressing to watch week after week, record after record. Players being handcuffed by the scheme they play in. I'm not a fire Fickell guy, I believe there has to be some sort of change. It's not the kids, it's the coaching and scheme. I'm sure Meyer will figure it out. It's just sad that we had a national championship caliber offense, but no defense to help them out. Pretty sad when you are nervous that 5 td's might not be enough to beat average teams.  Here's to next year and an improved unit. 
I'm not convinced that Kerry Coombs isn't a big part of the problem. JMO of course.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.