Buckeyes Hopeful Preparation Pays Off Against Navy

By Tim Shoemaker on August 29, 2014 at 1:15p
Luke Fickell must have his troops prepared for Navy's triple option.

If you ask Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell about the 2009 season-opener against Navy, he can almost give you a play-by-play from that game. He seems to remember it like it were yesterday.

“If you really look back at it, it was 20-7 at half and I think with about six minutes to go in the game I think it was a 17-point game, but unfortunately, we might have been a little bit too comfortable at that point in time," Fickell said Wednesday. "We got a turnover, thought we probably had it in the bag with six or so minutes to go and then we turned the ball back over, they hit a 78-yard touchdown and drove it back now and got another touchdown."

"What you realize is that the game is never over. They don’t care who they’re playing. They’re not gonna bat an eye whether it’s the Ohio State Buckeyes or the Green Bay Packers.”

Perhaps that's the reason why this year's Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer did something they normally don't during fall camp: They began preparing for the Midshipmen on the very first day.

“On the first day of training camp I said, ‘We’re going.’ Usually you install, install, install and then we get busy, but we started Day 1," Meyer said. "I think we have a handle on it I just think who we’re playing is really, really good at it. This is one of the better ones I’ve seen over the years as far as efficiency and production out of their quarterback I think they’re really good.”

Meyer and the fifth-ranked Buckeyes have been preparing for one of the most unique offenses in all of college football: Navy's triple-option.

The Midshipmen were second in the country last year in rushing yards per game with 325.4 and their attack is led by one of the best running quarterbacks in the game, Keenan Reynolds.

Containing Reynolds and Navy's triple-option requires preparation and an extremely disciplined defense. Having the game being played Week 1 as opposed to in the middle of the season could benefit Ohio State.

“I think the really good thing for us is we’ve had all of camp to prepare whereas you would come in in the typical game week and you’d really only have four or five days to prepare," junior linebacker Joshua Perry said. "Obviously, there are gonna be some butterflies for the first game, some jitters and guys are gonna want to make plays, but we also know as a defense you have to be selfless in this game. The D-lineman might make one tackle in this game and the Mike Linebacker running sideline to sideline might have a lot more than that, but you’ve gotta play your assignments in order to succeed.”

While Ohio State's pass defense was one of the worst in the Big Ten, its rushing defense actually ranked second only to Michigan State's. The Buckeyes allowed just more than 116 yards per game on the ground last season, but Navy's offensive rushing attack brings something totally different to the table.

“This will be a big test for how disciplined we are, how fundamentally sound we are and what kind of execution we can have," Fickell said. "Joey Bosa can tackle the fullback 25 times in the game and have zero tackles, but as long as he’s doing that then we’ll be in good shape. Sometimes you can’t look at the stats in these kinds of games because it’s guys doing their job.”

So, is there such a thing as being over-prepared for a game like this one?

“You think you've got a handle on something, but then there will be something different. As soon as you think you’ve got it then that’s when you really got a problem," Fickell said. "It’s a work in progress and I know it’s only a couple days away, but we’ll be working on the sideline in between each series and we’ve gotta stick to our guns. We’ll be fundamentally sound, we’ve gotta execute and we’ve gotta play Buckeye-style defense.”


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buckeyehub's picture

never let up! go bucks lets get this win tomorrow!

“Anyone can run the option. I can run the option.” - Urban Meyer
Let's beat the snot out of *ichigan.

+5 HS
DCBuckeye33's picture

Im glad they aren't taking this challenge lightly. less than 24 hours now!


+3 HS
MauricXe's picture

i have a feeling this buckeye defense is going to make a statement. i have no doubt they will shut the navy offense down.

JT is going to have a great game as well.

+9 HS
Sightlygrain6's picture

They will go through 3 fullbacks if Bosa hits him 25 times.

+25 HS
kalabuckzoo's picture

haha, what did that fullback do to fickell that he's game planning bosa to take him out.

+5 HS
nm_buck's picture

what did that fullback do to fickell that he's game planning bosa to take him out.

He means everyone has to stick with their assignments to be successful vs the bone.  If Bosa tackles the fback every down, that frees up the next guy to get the hback and the next guy to get the qback.  It's all about containment... completing your assignments.  If reynolds hands off to the fback and bosa greets him... they are going to have a long day.  Bosa may not get many tackles, but in knocking the fback out of the pic, he'll guarantee that someone else makes the tackle on the next option

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

Buckeye_Ryan's picture

They'll have 3 emptybacks, am I right?

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

+1 HS
Vinsaniti's picture

I feel confident that the defense will be prepared. I have a lot of good vibes from them and this is the start of a great defense and we all know defense wins championships!

+1 HS
UrbanPirate's picture

Being the eternal Mr. Brightside that I am, I'm hopeful that all this extra option practice will pay dividends down the line with any team brave enough to try and option our D-line this season.

Just... Go Bucks.


+2 HS
DC-town's picture

This will be a good game in my opinion.  And it will be a good lesson in discipline for the coaches to break down film with the younger players later...good to have an 'assignment football' game like this early




'Piss excellence' -RB

+2 HS
Firedup's picture

Smart move by Urban to not install anything on D until after the Navy game that way all of the Navy assignments and rules can be thrown out after this game to avoid confusion

"Making the Great State of Ohio Proud!" UFM

+2 HS
EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Amen. It's well-known how disruptive playing Navy mid-season can be to coaching staffs, who have to learn to defend that option in between pro-set and spread attacks. Those are the games that Navy runs for 350-400 yards.

+1 HS
Dmac3212's picture

Only thing that makes me a little nervous is that the defensive performance will come down to the back 7. The triple option completely takes the Dl out of the game, unless they completely blow up the play (hard to do with cut blocking). 

FROMTHE18's picture

Please…for all that is holy…know how to tackle tomorrow. 3 years of horrendous tackling is enough for me. 

+17 HS
McBane's picture

Could not agree with you more

+2 HS
ArizonaBuckeye's picture

@ FROMTHE18 /\/\/\ This all day. I want to see form tackling at it's best tomorrow.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." -Woody Hayes-

+1 HS
robobuck's picture

I'm only 29 but i promote I will have a heart attack watching another season of guys trying to knock the ball carrier down and he goes for a touchdown. I was at the shoe for the Cal game. Almost lost my voice.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

mshaf's picture

Today feels like Christmas Eve when you are a kid.  Tomorrow can`t get here soon enough.     Go BUCKS !

+1 HS
TURD_BUCKET's picture

#2 in the nation in rushing. OK. So?  Navy was #122 ( next to last ) in passing offense,  86 yds / game

Where did they rank in total offense ( 383 yds/ game )?  #77, one spot ahead of michiigan.


Stack the box and stomp a mudhole in their ass!   Next

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” John Wooden

+6 HS
Buckeye BadDog's picture

I actually think stressing this kind of gap discipline will really help in future games where it's not quite as important as important as it for this game, but still a good skill to possess. Assignment discipline is a foundation that all D packages will use in some manner, so this kind of experience will serve them well all year.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
- Albert Einstein

"Nothing that comes easy is worth a dime." - Woody Hayes

+4 HS
BeatTTUN's picture

The fact that the Coaching Staff is taking Navy very serious really helps to eliminate the "what if" uncertainty.

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan

+1 HS
DefendYoungstown's picture

Keep Calm and get ready for Buckeye Football... #SHOCKTHEWORLD

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

+1 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Actually found out today that Keenan Reynolds dad has been working in the new school I teach at.  He left today to head to Baltimore to watch his son play tomorrow.  Looking forward to talking to him about the game when he gets back.  

+1 HS
buckeyedude's picture

U might want to give his dad a couple days to cool off, since Bosa is going to be all over his son.



dubjayfootball90's picture

Bosa could tackle the fullbak 25 times but have zero tackles? So is Bosa going to automatically crash the line and attack the FB, making the QB keep it? Letting the opposing team know what we are playing already? Or is this a fake out, come out and Bosa is going to slow play it. Or maybe, he wants Navy to think Bosa will crash, so they will plan for a play where they think something might happen, when in reality what they thought would happen is not what actually happens, and the only one who knows what happens is Fickell, and he plans it just like he knew he thought he would? Oh boy my head hurts

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

JohnnyKozmo's picture

I think it's more about just playing assignment football in general, as that is how you stop the triple option.  You can't watch the ball, you have to take care of the ballcarrier you are responsible for, regardless of if he has the ball.  When the DEs get out of position and get sucked in, or watch QB or HB, that's when you get a 2 on 1 situation with the QB and RB isolating a LB or DB on the perimeter.

Getting penetration with the DL will be key, to disrupt the timing.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

Gametime's picture

I'm throwing caution to the wind. I mean c'mon Buckeyes, why not us? Why can't lightning strike and J.T. be some crazy combination of Tebow, Guiton, & Braxton with a sterling pedigree from the Land of QBs - Texas?

All of these other redshirt freshman have come in with no competitive snaps and have been setting records - Cam Newton, Marcus Mariotta, Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, and now Kenny Hill...Why not JT?

Crazy coincidence here: There is another former #3 DT QB from a military family in Texas, with legendary leadership qualities, who came back from a torn ACL to win the Heisman trophy, and put his school on the map: Robert Griffin III.

Why can't Joe Thomas Barrett IV be OUR transcendent QB?

I know we have a strange relationship with optimism and heartbreak being Ohioans, but damn it, It all feels right - Urban year three, athletes unleashed, aggressive "let em play" style defense, layers of talent and speed, a killer D-Line that has been forging our young O-Line, and a QB hand picked by Tom Herman & Urban Meyer.

The distributor that while we appreciate Braxton and his talent, we all wished he was when those who wondered about his passing progression, thought that this offense would be much better with a "Pass First-Run Second" or "QB who's an athlete rather than an Athlete at QB" type of deal, and Smooth Jazz gave us a taste.

In small samples it proved to be the better fit for this offense despite the QB running it, not being as talented, but just naturally a better fit.

Consider me all in on J.T.!

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

+3 HS
AeroBuckeye2001's picture
Love your enthusiasm, but...

The Ohio State University Class of 2001

BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

BucksFan2000's picture

No offense to Navy, but if we don't pummel them something is wrong.

Last year Navy wasn't able to beat Western Kentucky, Toledo, or - get this - Notre Dame.  I'm serious.  Look that one up if you don't believe me.

I get we're breaking in a few fresh faces, but we should also be able to wear them down.

nikolajz1's picture

Our strength is stopping the run and running the ball. We'll be fine. With our D-Line it'd be a shock if Navy is able to put up more than 14 against us. 

FunZone's picture

I love luke fickell's serious face

I asked Braxton how his knee was before halftime at Berkeley and he said, "What up, man."

Groveport Heisman's picture

The one where he looks like a deer caught in the headlights? I also love  that one. It oozes massive confidence.

Mark my words..I don't need acceptance. I'm catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.

-7 HS
DefendYoungstown's picture

Very sandleresque...

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

-1 HS
Gunship_Buckeye's picture

Ok i don't post often but being its 18 hours to game time, i have to say to the Buckeyes.  Play with the idea that you're going to destroy them by 50 points.  Complete domination on defense then execute on Offense.  Show the world the Buckeyes are for real WITHOUT Brax.  Create fear in your enemies with  your play.  Make the SEC stand up and wonder.  A&M did it last night.  Bucks can do it too.  MAKE A STATEMENT.  I'm fully confident.  You be confident to, team.


“If you take it to ‘em, and you keep taking it to ‘em, hell, there’s no question who will win!” - Woody

+4 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

This.  Couldn't say it better.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

countrybuckeye's picture

Yep. ^That

"Momma told me there would be days like this."

whiskeyjuice's picture

Beer me!

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

DC-town's picture

Tackling...from the 18- point bill plaske

please be better this year tackling

'Piss excellence' -RB

sivaDavis's picture

When's considered too early to start drinking? ...asking for a friend. 

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I asked my friend, Evan Williams, and he said go ahead and get started now!

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

Frimmel's picture

It's too early when you'll have drank too much to not pass out during the game. It isn't a question of when put of pacing.

buckeye phi's picture

It's good to hear the Buckeyes are well prepared for the Midshipmen's unorthodox system but injuries may be the greater concern.  As badly as Ohio State has been bitten by the injury bug already, it's particularly unfortunate that Navy is on the schedule this year. 

All that cut blocking has a tendency to take a toll on opposing defenses.  And since any kind of a championship run is likely to be led by the defense this season, getting dinged up right off the bat could really hurt - in more ways than one.

The Middies shouldn't catch OSU napping this time around - its the following weeks the Buckeyes may need to worry about.

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. - Will Rogers

INTLBUCK's picture

Never been so glad for a noon start...don't think I can wait much longer.