When Chris Ash was brought in to be Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach, there was a lot of talk about a completely different defense, one that was supposed to be more aggressive.
But with the Buckeyes opening their season against Navy, which runs a triple-option offense and only attempted four passes in last Saturday's game, there weren't many chances for fans to see that new style as Ohio State had to be sound in its assignments.
In their Week 2 matchup Saturday against Virginia Tech, however, the eighth-ranked Buckeyes will finally be able to show what they've been working on all of camp.
"I just think of our D‑linemen. Joey Bosa didn't come to Ohio State to squeeze down blocks and keep people off his ankles. That's what he had to do last week," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said Monday. "He came to rush a quarterback and penetrate, so there's big smiles across our defensive line right now to let them go play."
Against Navy, Ohio State surrendered 370 rushing yards, but gave up just 17 points. It's hard to get a gauge on exactly how the Buckeyes played defensively because the Midshipmen play such a unique style of football. Meyer said the defense didn't even do film study of the game.
So as a defense, if you can't take any schematic things from the win over Navy going forward, what exactly can you take from that game?
“I think the biggest thing that we can take away from playing an offense like Navy’s is the discipline that it takes to play them," linebacker Joshua Perry said.
There were also some surprises in personnel as Perry rotated with Curtis Grant at the middle linebacker position as Chris Worley started on the outside. Armani Reeves also played in a linebacking position as the Buckeyes tried to get some of their speed on the outside to deal with Navy's offense.
All of that was Navy-specific, the coaching staff said, and fans can expect to see a more traditional defense against the Hokies.
“Our coaches are kind of forcing us back into our basic defense," linebacker Darron Lee said. "We’ll be fine, it’s just switching modes."
The Buckeyes will still have to be sound in their tackling of ball carriers as Virginia Tech has a pair of talented freshman running backs in Shai McKenzie and Marshawn Williams.
"They’re a solid team, they’ve got a solid offense and they’ve got some weapons, some of the bigger running backs and those guys enjoy contact and don’t go down easily," Perry said. "They run a lot of stuff that you see from spread offenses but they've built it different ways with their formations and the motioning."
With the Navy game in the rearview mirror, the Ohio State defense just seems ready to get back to a bit of normalcy against the Hokies.
“We spent all spring going against our offense and most of camp until a couple weeks out when we started preparing for the triple-option," Perry said. "It’ll be nice to get back to it, be able to play some of our base stuff and do what we do best.”