Ohio State's Defensive Overhaul Started With Luke Fickell And an Attitude Change

By Patrick Maks on August 7, 2014 at 8:15a

When Luke Fickell closed the book on yet another Ohio State football season, he had a bad taste in his mouth and a worse feeling in his stomach.

“I don’t know if we’ve gone through an offseason since I’ve been here that I didn’t really feel good about the way we played at the end of the year,” the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach said Wednesday.  

“So it was quite an eventful offseason, and I just mean that as we’re the hardest critics on ourselves.”

It’s easy to say that now after unnerving postseason losses to Michigan State and Clemson ruined a perfect season and 24-game winning streak. It’s easy to say that now when every autopsy of the 2013-14 season shows the Buckeye defense was its doom. But for the longest time, Fickell scoffed at questions about the state of a unit that looked curiously unstable from start to finish. 

Most memorable, and most telling, though, was how Fickell snapped at reporters when someone asked “what went wrong” a few days after surrendering 603 yards in a close win against offensively anemic Michigan.

“What do you mean what went wrong?” he said. “Did we win? Did we win? Did we win?"

Sitting in a folding chair circled by TV cameras and their hot, bright lights, beads of sweat dripped down his forehead. His eyes darted at those hovering around him. The incredulous expression on his face said it all: this was a question that vexed Fickell to the core.

Because it was growing harder and harder for him to find new ways to sugarcoat a defense that was coming undone at the seams at the worst possible time. The need to find a quick cure was mounting, but it’s hard to cover-up a bullet wound with a bandaid.

Ohio State’s defense, which finished 47th in total defense and 112th in pass defense, was littered with inherent defects that weren’t going to get fixed by blitzing more or pressing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. Instead, the program was rife with what head coach Urban Meyer called a “blame, complain, defend” culture. Fickell's defense fell under a spell of the sickness. 

“It was one of those things, when you go through the offseason not playing well the last three games and not being where you wanted to and ultimately not playing better at the end of the year, you gotta do some self-evaluation,” he said.

So at some point during a cold and dark winter, Fickell – along with Meyer, new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash and the rest of the defensive coaching staff – hit the reset button.

“Coach Fickell changed his viewpoint and he said, ‘I’m not gonna blame anybody anymore, it’s gonna be the defense and the defense is together,” senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said during Big Ten Media Days last week.

“All of the defensive coaches have just come together and said we’re not fighting each other anymore. If there’s a run up through the middle, the linebackers aren’t going to come up to the D-line and cuss them out. They’re gonna take it on themselves and the D-line is gonna take it on themselves and the safeties are gonna take it on themselves for not filling. It’s everybody’s fault when the plays break down.”

Of course, there’s serious pressure on Fickell, who’s coached in Columbus since 2002, to limit broken plays. There’s pressure to ensure a late-season collapse like the one against Spartans and Tigers doesn’t happen again.

Last year, Fickell held those who asked him about his defense’s struggles in contempt. He can’t do that anymore. It goes against everything he’s trying to build. Being defensive about the defense won’t make it better for Ohio State. Humility and honest evaluation will.

“I’ve always told them from the day I’ve been here, it’s a lot harder to handle praise than it is criticism. They’ve been beat, they’ve been kicked a little bit,” Fickell said.

“There’s no harder critic than ourselves and they felt that in the way we played our last three games. And to be honest with you, it’s shown. It’s not just the first two days of camp, anybody can do that, but what they’ve done and they’ve shown throughout the weight room in the winter, in the spring, it’s the guys that’ve got a chip on their shoulder and they’ve got a mission.”

Fickell’s on a mission, too, whether it’s writing another chapter in legacy or job security. For a little while there, he was part of the problem. Now he’s part of the solution.



Hovenaut's picture

It's a new day.

I admit to playing armchair defensive coordinator in the past, spewing expletives at those I felt responsible through the confines of my TV.

Both the defensive staff and players are owning up to the failures of the past, no b.s., no excuses.

That's a great step towards turning things around.

+9 HS
zjhousley's picture

Good article.  Glad to see Fickell still around.  Blaming an entire unit for a breakdown is the way it is supposed to be. Fight the opponent not each other.

+1 HS
mjfiore's picture

Completely agree.  Fickell had some issues last year but seeing the guys turn things around this year would be great. 

Buckeye love in the Big Apple

+1 HS
chitown buckeye's picture

There is no doubt in my mind all the units were blaming each other last year. You could see it in the performance! What still upsets me about Fickell is he acted as if everything was fine. I get coach speak and keep it in house but at some point when things aren't coming together you just sound like an idiot. His "Did we win?" comment is case and point. I would have respected Fickell more coming out and saying there are problems rather than just insulting our intelligence and trying to claim nothing is wrong. I've got high hopes that the new attitude is going to pay off this year. Leadership starts from the top down and hopefully with the addition of Ash and a new attitude by the coaches things will come together.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

+8 HS
NH-IO's picture

Do not insult my intelligents!  

I would like to have this as a bumper sticker.

+11 HS
Buckeye06's picture

I just think it's hard when you are in a season to say "yea we suck."  Does that make the guys on your unit want to work harder?  He can say the same things like "we need to execute better, we need to tackle better" and he was saying those things too, but at some point he is right.  If OSU won the National title 6-3, would it be any sweeter than winning it 49-48?  I'd celebrate just as much either way.  IF OSU wins, I'm happy no matter what, knowing of course everyone can be better

+1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

My biggest issue was fundementals or the lack there of in tackling, coverage etc. To me a coach is supposed to stress fundementals. The talent was there the fundementals were not.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

BAR43's picture

I would tend to agree, but I cannot believe there was any lack of focus on fundamentals. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. It is interesting that you cannot really blame one or the other, coaches and players need to work as one, just as the defensive unit does.  I think Fickell is a very solid coach, but last season he was asked to answer questions about a defense he only had half the control of. That might be an excuse to some degree, but the separation between the front 7 and back 4 was evident. Glad to hear the entire unit is going to be more cohesive, it is a necessity.

Furious George 27's picture

I agree you can lead the horse etc.... But as a coach you also have the obligation of playing the players that actually do what they are supposed to. It's kind of saying fuck it, by keeping players in the game that are not doing it right. What's the point of practice if this is the result you see?

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

chitown buckeye's picture

Well played, NH-IO! I had to edit the mistake, so now your post looks out of place! Upvote from me!

"I'm having a heart attack!"

+1 HS
Jpfbuck's picture

although to some degree i can agree with your premise but it may also be true that Fickell was simply towing a line Urban set.

What seems unsaid but reading between the lines of all that happened last year, off season and now what they are saying is that there appears to have been a great deal of disension among the coaching staff with each other as well

although Fickell is the DC, Withers was co-DC and asst HC. Add in that many teams, (including OSU's offense) develops strategies as a group. It is entirely possible that Wither's, same as Ash now, had responsibility for designing the Pass D. 

go back and ready quotes from the coaches and the players when they went thru their first camp together,,DBs talking about how they had changed to playing off the ball more and trying to break on the ball etc and Wither's stating that this was his designed strategy, with the other coaches saying things like "the nature of the games changed, you can't play press for 60 minutes" etc

my guess, and it is only a guess is that the D staff had some real splits on how to fix the issues as the season progressed and not only the players started the blame game, but so did the staff.

Urban saw this, and fixed by getting rid of the guys who he saw as an issue, primarily Withers, who took a 50% pay cut to take a HC job a division lower.

reading the tea leaves i know but that is my guess, Fickell et al wanted to be more agressive, but Withers didnt favor it and "keeping it in house" they said things like "did we win"

+5 HS
chitown buckeye's picture

I agree with you. If Fickell was truly the problem he would be gone. Although my post may have come off as a "blame Fickell" post, that wasn't necessarily my point. Overall I have been very disappointed in how Fickell has carried himself with the media. He doesn't seem to articulate himself well and in doing so opens himself up to more questions he doesn't want to answer.  This presentation of himself and his "Did we win?" comments do not give many people (players?) faith in him as a leader. He seems to get "rattled" quickly and does that rub off in his coaching? I don't know. Hopefully everyone is getting along and on the same page this year.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

+1 HS
NH-IO's picture

In my continuing quest to make the world (and especially 11W) a better place, I would like to point out that the expression is "toe the line", not "tow the line".

+3 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

Great comment in two respects.

First, I very much appreciate your epistemic approach: you acknowledge up front that we don't have inside-the locker room knowledge and experiences, so we must use caveats ("it may be true") and "read the tea leaves" or read between the lines, make guesses, etc.

Second, your "reading the tea leaves" analysis, itself, is excellent. The scenario you describe is quite plausible.

+1 HS
Liening's picture

Upvote to you, Run!  It is rare that I have to go to the dictionary* while reading 11W.  For others who are as poorly literate as I am, epistemic means "relating to knowledge, or to the degree of its validation".  

*OK, Google, not an actual dictionary.


Tater_Schroeder's picture

The Trickle Fickell-Down Effect

There, fixed it.

How Firm Thy Friendship

+9 HS
tussey's picture

I thought the same thing after reading the title

TnJoeBucks's picture

One can not fix  a problem until one admits there is a problem.

"As the water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, so a wise man adapts himself to circumstances." Confucius

+5 HS
Oyster's picture

I think the problem is now a head coach, and thus not our problem anymore.

+9 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

Yeah !...I just wish  he got that "promotion" a year earlier.

+2 HS
Fuzzbuck's picture

Man I hope all of Fick's positive words about changes in attitudes and approaches play out for the good like we are being lead to believe. I simply don't know if I can watch 5-600 yards of offense against them much longer. Guess we will know what we have in a defense this year by the time we head to East Lansing.

+1 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

I honestly think we didn't have it last year....scheme and players alike, something wasn't right.  A good defense can take this team places this year.    

Read my entire screen name....

yrro's picture

One thing to remember - Tressel's defensive coaching staff was incredibly stable for a long time. They had a rapport and knew how to work together.

I really get the impression that not everybody meshed together so well when this defensive staff came together. Maybe Fickell and Withers didn't see eye to eye. Maybe it was awkward between them and Meyer. Maybe even Vrabel's presence caused automatic cliques to form.

I don't blame Fickell for snapping at the media. He's watched his mentor get run out of town, his chance at coaching his dream job go up in smoke, his once-elite defense crumble despite I'm sure putting in ridiculous hours, largely because of conflicts with other position coaches. Whether all of those are his fault or not, it's still got to wear pretty damn hard.

Hopefully with the changes and additions on the staff, they're finally on the same page and can move in a better direction.

+17 HS
AAStagg's picture

Luke needs to try the Serenity Prayer -- calmly accept the things you can't control; work you butt off on the things you can; and make damn sure you know the difference.

Keep calm.  It's only a game.

+8 HS
Gametime's picture

That's an excellent prayer. My mother gave me a pendant with that on it when I was in middle school. Helped change my life really. +1

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

+6 HS
AAStagg's picture

It changed mine too.  Keep saying it, He hears you and it works.  Happy for your happiness.

Keep calm.  It's only a game.

+3 HS
faux_maestro's picture

Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

+5 HS
Fuzzbuck's picture

Excellent points YRRO. I don't want to see Fick get canned--what I want to see is the D allowing about 12 points a game like Heacock's defenses did numerous years.

+1 HS
Zimmy07's picture

It used to be that if we scored 21 points the game was over - we weren't giving up 21.  Especially at home - I think the Buckeyes have only lost 12 times at home when scoring 21 points in my lifetime (over 40 years).

MikeLew's picture

I'd love to see that too- but, let's remember that Fickell's defense is going to see a lot more snaps than Heacock's ever did, even if both play at the same "elite" level. Meyer and Herman want to go much faster on offense than Tressel and Co. did, and that's going to mean more explosive offensive plays, but also more time and snaps on the field for the defense.

Because of that, I'm much more comfortable measuring a defense in yards per play and points per drive than points per game - because a 24-10 win under Tressel and a 35-17 win under Meyer are basically equivalent.

+2 HS
buckz4evr's picture

“Coach Fickell changed his viewpoint and he said, ‘I’m not gonna blame anybody anymore, it’s gonna be the defense and the defense is together,” senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said during Big Ten Media Days last week

Wow.  I knew there was dissention on the team, but I didn't know it ran that deep

+1 HS
RK84's picture

I understood the Fickell frustrations, and agreed with most of them. For some reason though especailly the past two seasons, it felt like the horses werent there.

I know they are all supposed to highlevel recruits capable of doing anything and everything, but maybe there were a few misses, a few drop offs, and a few disappointments. This season has a different feel. The coaches seem more intune with the kids, and the scheme.  I got excited when I saw flashes of greatness by a couple guys last year, and moments of guarded hope when I watched the spring game.

buckeyepastor's picture

Agree.   Since Meyer's arrival, we lost a lot of players - some transferred, a few were let go for disciplinary reasons or grades.  A lot of the guys that disappeared weren't even on the two-deep.   But their departure took away depth and experience.   Not making excuses for the end of last year, but by the time of the bowl game depth was a big time issue.   Guys stepped up and we almost got the win, but we were pretty short-handed going into that game.   

But all that is done now.   Perry and Grant have been given everything needed to step up and anchor the linebacker corp, and though we'll miss Mike Mitchell there are other very good players in that unit who are not freshmen anymore.   At corner and safety, we have a lot of talent - even depth at the corner spot.  On the D-line, our second unit would start at most of the schools in the FBS.   No more "it's a new system."  No more "we need time to get the right players."   No more "well, we scored more points, so there's no problem."  Has to happen this year.   I know that the attention for OSU is on the firepower on offense - Miller, Smith, Elliott, Wilson, athletes flying all over the field.  But even if Braxton throws for 3000 yards this year, we will not win the conference much less make it into a playoff without playing strong defense.   I agree with one of the other posters that, bad as the defense was, they were good enough that we could have won the last two games.  I thought their effort against Clemson was actually one of their better efforts - Sammy Watkins had the game of his life but we did well keeping most of their offense from big plays.   And what everyone remembers from the MSU game is the 4th and 1 play where the offense couldn't pick up a yard when it mattered.   But looking at MSU's good but far from great offense last year, 24 points should have been enough to win the game.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+3 HS
TobyMagic's picture

I just watched all those replays on BTN yesterday. I get what you all are saying but it's hard for me to say anything positive about anyone involved with our defense..

However, I believe defenses are really at a disadvantage in today's game and I think they're still in catch-up mode across the sport. Especially when facing an offense like our own. 

We've been spoiled with outstanding defensive units in the past. Hopefully this group (coaches and players) can put together a unit that can takes us to Indy and beyond..

DC-town's picture

Say what you want, Fickell is the man, period, done, carry on-

defense was not good at all down the stretch but they gave the offense opportunities to win the last two games and the unfortunately the Bucks didn't come out on top.  That sounds like its fueling everyone on the offseason so hopefully it's a positive.

The D will probably have to carry the offense to start the year until the new o-line develops some chemistry and I'm sure they will.  When the silver bullets are flying around, all the haters need to remember to give Fickell his props

'Piss excellence' -RB

+4 HS
niblick's picture

It's not been just the last 3 games, our defense has flat out sucked for 3 years and yes I'm including the 12-0 2012 season.  I'm hopeful it will turn around this year, but blind optimism would be naive on anyone's part at this point.  We're firmly in the SHOW ME stage now, we've heard this same talk prior to the last 2 years, every summer.

+3 HS
Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The best thing that could have happened to Luke is having Urban Meyer as your head coach!  It is hard to break old habits but nothing helps accelerate that process like a season last year for the defense!  I am glad to see Luke is up for the challenge because he is one of my favorite Buckeyes and I want to see him soak up all Meyer has to offer!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

+1 HS
Earle's picture

Perhaps it's just the editing of Fickell's comments, but I am somewhat disturbed by the focus on the "last 3 games".  I didn't see a lot of great defense in the other 11, except against some really terrible football teams.  Did the defense not struggle all year?

Regardless, Luke is otherwise saying the right things, and I'm cautiously optimistic about the D so far.

Italics are for emphasis.

+2 HS
Jpfbuck's picture

actually although many opponents had been weak and there had been a few "hiccups", going into the last 3 games we were averaging the following on D

Pts Allowed - 18.3 (which if sustained would have ranked us 9th nationally and given us 3 easy wins)

Pass Yards allowed - 238.1 which if sustained would've ranked 7th ie bad but not gawd awful)

total yards allowed - 364.3 or what would have been enough for 31st

so again not Heacock level but compared to 11 and 12 a significant improvement, but the last 3 games were as bad a stretch as any OSU D in my memory has ever been and thats since 1968

Furious George 27's picture

18.3 pts allowed is actually pretty bad considering we held Purdue, FAMU and SDSU to a combined 7 points. If it was not for them being so inept you're looking at nearly 25 a game against teams with some competence

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+2 HS
BAR43's picture

I feel like many on here are missing that our rush defense was great last year. Obviously the secondary was the down fall, but we are still overlooking the other half of the defense that played very well and was one of the best in the nation. It is always easy to focus on the bad, and I do not maintain the defense as a whole was acceptable, but give credit where due.

ScarletGray43157's picture

My gut says that things will be much improved this year.  I know for a fact that a guy like Luke Fickell learns from his experience, both good and bad, and makes something out of that knowledge.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Harold's picture

"it’s hard to cover-up a bullet wound with a bandaid."

Let's go with...

"It's like trying to heal a gunshot wound with gauze. "

...that's better.

Ahhh, the smell of Chris Spielman's Dirty Socks...

Montana silver bullet's picture

I know LB play wasn't spectacular outside of RDS. However, how much control would Fick have over the secondary?  We've all been in situations where we have to rely on other people for the job to run smoothly. He was in between a rock and a hard place with Withers, had to answer for the D yet couldn't call out other coaches---

Ash's defense at Wisky was a tough, sound unit. With the new scheme and an increase in talent our D should be much improved and maybe quite good.

Montana Silver Bullet

buckeyepastor's picture

I know the "Fire Fickell" rants were a bit over the top last year, but in year three if the defense doesn't get better, a lot better, I don't see Fickell coming back.   The defense performed poorly, and he handled it poorly.  Others played a part as well, but he's the one responsible for it all.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Time out!  I need a fact check on something I heard last winter.  I heard Urban and Fickell were arguing about the defense in coaching offices after the last two games and Mike Vrebal comes in in the middle of the argument and starts defending his pal Luke.  Then it erupts and the coaches had to keep MV from Urban.  Next thing you know MV is on his way to Texas. Rumor or fact?

Buckeye in Texas

+1 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

Sounds like a rumor to me.  For one, I don't see how a heated argument could have erupted over the defense.  Anything that Meyer wanted to say about the short-comings of the unit last year would be very hard to dispute or argue with.   Sounds like a story started by someone who's seen "Varsity Blues" or "Any Given Sunday" one too many times.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

RK84's picture

Huge rumore from what I remember, both coaches wives said no such thing happened.

buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks, I thought it might be a rumor.  I didn't want flack over it back in January, I thought this was a good time to ask.

Buckeye in Texas

Canukbuck's picture

Withers is gone and Fickell is still Co-DC, so that should speak volumes (unless you believe that Meyer doesn't know what he's doing) ....  We'll never know the full story behind the relationship (or lack of) between Withers and Fickell, with regards to scheme or game planning, but I firmly believe that it was Withers responsibility for setting up the secondary system, which provided us with the biggest headaches.  Hopefully, if the defense returns to the Silver Bullets, Fickell will get as much credit from fans, as he did take the blame for the defense's shortcomings the past few seasons.  Fair is fair ....

+1 HS
Mean Mr Mustard's picture

In before someone says, "Fire Fickell". 

lvccacamcrca's picture

I think Luke just took another step on the road to becoming a fine head coach someday

Ahh Saturday's picture

I'll take the DV hit for this one, but Urban needs to take some heat for the performance of the defense as well. He is the head coach. If Withers was the problem, well, Urban hired him. If Fickell was the problem, it was Urban who has kept him around. If communication amongst the staff was a problem, that's a management problem, and Urban is the manager.

Clearly, Urban has taken steps to solve this problem, and hopefully at this time next season we'll be worried about how soon Ash turns his success at OSU into a head coaching gig somewhere else instead of wringing our hands about the terrible defense. However, if we are still complaining about the D, Urban will have to take some responsibility on his own shoulders.

+3 HS
woodcocklives@osu's picture

Boy....I'm with you on this. This piece is a perfect example of the double standard. ...top down is now the fix all, but the top had no part in the problems on defense?

JBuckeye's picture

I hate to say it about a great Buckeye, but as far as Fickell is concerned he'll have to show it on the field before I believe anything he says. The defense the past three years has been downright awful.  The first actual wrap up and tackle will probably make me feel better, but I need to see stout defense before this team is declared title ready.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

JB - I am not ready to blame Fickell for the problems.  Between the poor LB play and the soft coverages with spread teams, we got punked and I do not think that all falls onto Fickell's shoulders.  I think there are 2 maybe 3 coaches that can all take the blame here.  I do like the Ash hire, he plays tight coverage.  You cannot expect to stop a spread offense when the DB's are playing 7-10 yards off the line of scrimmage.  You need to play press and bump the WR's off their routes and allow a great defensive line a little time to penetrate.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

Ghbuck23's picture

Actually Ash doesn't have a history of playing tight coverage .. You can watch his old teams DBs , at Wisky & Arky they all played off coverage .. 

our problem was Withers & Coombs couldn't coach DEfensive Backs

Win Baby , Win

JBuckeye's picture

Oh I'm not soley blaming Fickell, but since he's really the only one left who ever gets to speak to the media, it's where my short term rage goes when rewatching games where we just arm slapped a guy and expected him to fall down for the past three years. To be honest if it isn't fixed this year, then I'll start blaming Meyer since ultimately the buck stops with him. I was all jiggidy jiggidy excited with the Urban Meyer hire thinking we got Superman, but so far I've only seen Clark Kent. I can only wait on Superman for so long.

Oyster's picture

as far as Fickell is concerned he'll have to show it on the field before I believe anything he says

He has used up all his eligibility already.  

+2 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

Look, we all know at least several persons in leadership or management positions that, when you have to tell them something they don't want to hear, criticize their plans, explain why another idea is a better option, or give them a "hard truth," always initially react defensively.

It's certainly not an ideal trait; however, the more successful leaders/managers that have this tendency to be defensive, will retroactively take your words under advisement even if they don't want to admit to your face that you have a good point. A typical pattern:

  1. Early in the meeting, you tell Mr. Manager that his pet idea-X is problematic for reasons A and B, but that idea-Y is perhaps a better option;
  2. Mr. Manager lashes out, suggesting that only stupid people would think idea-Y;
  3. Toward the end of the meeting, he admits that idea-Y might have some merits, but that his pet idea-X is still superior;
  4. A week later, you hear from your boss/colleague, "Mr. Manager decided to scrap idea-X. He came up with this new idea-Y that he believes is a better way to go. Start working on idea-Y immediately!"   

Okay, the behavior of Mr. Manager above might be annoying, but this is still a person that can be highly successful - this is a boss that you can work with, who will ultimately lead the team in a positive direction.

Whereas the really unsuccessful managers/leaders are those who initially react defensively and then remain stubbornly attached to their bad ideas thereafter.

+2 HS

Fido, having worked in Corporate America for a long time that is SPOT ON analysis. I can't recall how many times I've been in meetings where "Mr. Manager" blasts an alternative idea as the worst idea in the history of bad ideas only to adopt it 2 weeks later as policy. What allows them to swallow that reality is them taking credit for it, even though it may be YOUR idea. It's terribly annoying but at least it shows growth and an ability to listen, especially when the CEO (Urban Meyer) says "Fix it or else."

I don't pretend to know anything that's going on behind closed doors in OSU's coaching staff but I would not be surprised at all to know that's the culture Urban is looking for by hiring Ash. Hope the CEO fixed it.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

+1 HS
gm3jones's picture

I guess we shall see on the field. Actions speak much louder than words do.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

tussey's picture

Purely speculative, but I wonder if Withers and MV leaving had a lot to do with this change in perspective. MV was a negative coach, Johnson is not.  He is a positive coach that focuses on what players are doing right instead of everything they are doing wrong.  It's possible that with all of the negative coaching going on, that it became somewhat of the norm to only focus on the negative which leads to the blame game.  Yes there were holes throughout the D and others above have pointed out that it is likely that Withers and Fickle didn't get along.  I just wonder if some of the change doesn't have to do with the positive attitude that coach Johnson brings to the staff.

+2 HS
chitown buckeye's picture

You certainly bring up an interesting point. If the coaches of each unit are bickering with each other you know that rubs off on the players. The players of each unit know the frustration their coach may have with other units and it just becomes a blame fest during games when the wheels begin to fall off.  Wouldn't at all be surprised if this was taking place.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

BeatTTUN's picture

I happily gave up on the scheme deployed by the back 7 of the Buckeyes defense after the TTUN game. I just have a feeling that last year was the absolute worst it was going to get for the Buckeyes defense for the next 100 years.

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan

jhipbuck's picture

Fickle is a great Buckeye and very good position coach but he is not a DC.  Ash will fix the problems and call the plays.

+1 HS
Exhortera's picture

Defense still sucks.