Hello all, I rewatched every snap the defense played against IU, out of morbid curiousity to see exactly what is ailing this defense. I paid particular attention to how Zach Boren did at LB vs. Storm Klein, and how Noah Spence did in general. Observations below - please keep in mind that I'm not a real football coach, I just play one on TV.
- Noah Spence should be playing every snap. I'm not sure why he isn't. He didn't fill up the stat sheet, but he was disrupting plays, and was generally very active at DE. You have to wonder if our best D-Line rotation isn't Nate Williams at Leo, Spence at SDE, and Simon and Hankins at tackles. At least on passing downs.
- Zach Boren shows better lateral quickness than Klein.....he moves his feet well. Even after 1 week of practice, I think he takes better angles than Storm. In space, any RB/WR can juke Klein out of his shoes.
- There were times when IU played hurry up, and the Buckeyes simply couldn't get set and lined up on time. I think this has much to do with what the coaches said about "leadership" at the MLB spot.
- Generally, the linebackers didn't play as bad as I initially thought in pass defense. To the contrary, I think Coach Coombs may have made a fatal mistake in having our secondary play so deep......this is leaving the linebackers out on islands, so to speak. They say in basketball that "spacing" is extremely important, as you don't want your players too bunched in, nor too spread out. It seems like the secondary is so deep that our linebackers are put in situations they can't succeed, there is too much grass around them that allows the underneath receiver to make a move and gain YAC. Time after time, the IU QB consistently found open receivers behind the linebackers, in front of the safeties on in-routes/post routes of intermediate length.
- Related to #4 above......in past years, our corners seemed to lock on visually onto their primary receiver, which allowed them to keep decent coverage with them down the field (this is where you are reminded of Chimdi Chekwa running neck and neck on a fly route with a wide receiver, not looking back, and the receiver making the catch even though Chekwa had blanket coverage). This was sometimes infuriating, but it seemed to work more than it failed, as it would require a perfect throw by the QB and excellent concentration by the WR to overcome. This year it seems totally different....the cornerbacks and safeties are locked onto the QB's eyes, keep everything ahead of them, and because they are at least 7 yards (if not 10) off the receiver, give up too much of a cushion. And if the QB makes a decent throw, the receiver is always open. I think the biggest coaching loss this past year was Taver Johnson.....he is considered one of the best secondary coaches in the country, and I'm wondering if Coombs needs to re-think his philosophy. Lather, rinse, repeat.....
There was an interesting post on this forum about how teams have broken their tendencies to pass more against OSU than they have against other teams (by a wide margin). They've clearly found certain flaws in our pass defense and done a good job in exploiting them. Hope Meyer tells the defensive coaches what's what.