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Who is more to blame for the defensive struggles: players or coaches?

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cplunk's picture

This is college football, not pro; the coaches have to be teachers as well as strategists. We've seen the difference a teaching coach makes all year in our offensive line. A good college coach can help a tight end learn how to be a tackle, while a bad one can take a bunch of four and five star recruits and keep that at the same level they came in as freshman. 
The difference can be seen when pro coaches that are good strategists, such as a Charlie Weiss, come to te college ranks and just don't recognize the teaching aspect.
These kids come in as talents, generally having dominated at the high school level largely on their physical skills and athletic abilities. Some were lucky enough to have technical/teaching coaches somewhere along the way, but most aren't.
Ther is a reason college players look lost as freshmen, gradually improve all year, and then become better and better all the way until graduation. Our defense is not improving much (with the exception of the secondary- Howard is a much better player than last year, and Roby is becoming a star), especially the linebackers.
We are chock full of uber-talented athletic recruits that were pursued by major programs all over the country. This issue is primarily on the coaches. The players are failing to execute some of the scheme and the basics, but at the college level we're seeing exactly what happens when your coaches don't teach well.

buckeye76BHop's picture

This was second week in a row that the defense has shown that OSU needs change.  Everyone was so happy how the defense played against MSU but the last two weeks proves my opening statement.  If OSU is to be a #1 or hell even top 10 defense, then OSU needs a change.  It is coaching and too bad that pizza guy got fired, because he was right.  Tackling as well as blown assignments (which is the players fault of course) are happening way too much this season.  I agree with CPLUNK above...the coaches aren't teaching these guys fundamentals or the players aren't utilzing them if they are being taught correctly.  It's just not OSU style defense and personally it makes me sad....I'm not a spoiled fan either or asking too much.  This is pathetic to allow a team like Indiana to score 49 points and especially the way they did.  

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

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

buckeyedude's picture

too bad that pizza guy got fired

That seems to be the quote of the week, that I hear/see everybody mentioning. Maybe he can get a job with a pizza shop that believes in a strong defense!

 

 

otrain2416's picture

I believe its partially both their faults. We looked so good against Mich St because we match up well against them. Our defense does not match up well against the spread. I think it starts with our corners. We switched from a bump and run man to man coverage last year to giving the opposing team a 10 yard cushion. Thats easy yardage for the opposing team all night long. Our LB look bad this yr because we have zero depth right now and have a bunch of injuries.( If you didn't see aside fromBoren  Noah Spence was playing some LB too) Our D line looked bad against the pass because they were doing quick throws and when they weren't we seemed to be only rushing 3 guys. The reason I say its the players is they flat out gave up last night at the end of the game. I have no doubt in my mind Urban and coaches preach play 60 minutes of football every week. Also you can coach players up which I have no doubt in my mind the OSU coaches do, but its up to them to go out there and play as they were coached.

blazers34's picture

coward option or realistic option?

JJB's picture

Coward option? You mean, it is a black and white situation like everything else in life?
 
*Agreeing with Blazers*

Conroy's picture

I dont see how anyone can blame the coaches when they had to start a full back at linebacker. Fickell coached up great LBs at Ohio State for years. Maybe the players just dont have it between their ears.

Ultrabuckeyehomer's picture

As I mentioned in another thread, I think it is mostly a lack of talent, but it is certainly a combination of multiple issues.  It's weird, I know, but I don't see too many high calibre play makers on defense. 
I don't think fickel forgot how to coach defense overnight.  Should we be doing something different from a schematic aspect? yes, no doubt.  But, we need better players right now to get significantly better.

buckeyedude's picture

Roby, Howard, Simon, and Hankins are playmakers. Shazier, every now and again, but lately, he hasn't played well, IMHO.
Do we have any other fullbacks that might want to play LB? :(

 

 

cplunk's picture

Yup, those are the four, but don't forget Garrett Goebel. Goebel is actually pretty solid too.
 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Someone said that the defensive scheme gives up more big plays... yeah that just might be the problem.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

RBuck's picture

The d-heads needs to develop a scheme that fits the players they have...easier said than done.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

Crimson's picture

The problem is, they were running more of a cover 3 that the players were used to in the nonconference schedule, and they still got carved up.  Cover 4 is the future of the team, and what we will recruit players for, and what we're playing since they can't play cover 3 either.
The only thing I can think of that would fit our players better is to throw both out the window and play Roby, Howard, and Duron Grant when there are at least 3 receivers.  Have each play man coverage the whole time and figure out what to do with the rest of the LBs and Ss.
Realistically, I hope they stop playing Boren at LB (in games -- maybe play him in practice and tape room to motivate the young guys) and start playing the freshmen.  Klein and Boren cannot help next year, and maybe Grant is just a bust.  You've still got a few guys left who aren't hurt; give them a look, and maybe we'll find a guy who can just produce in a game setting.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Really? I think Cover 2 is what they should be operating out of. Gives the corners freedom to press the receivers and keeps the LBs in the middle of the field with the ability to rush one or two and be safe.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

The players without a question this might be the worst back 7 that I can remember.  I think Roby is a fine player and Travis Howard shows big play ability but the rest is terrible.  Maybe the coaches could adjust the scheme but they are just terrible in space and on the perimeter.

 
One Bad Buckeye's picture

Hard to say either way, I mean we DO have a buncha talent, but I mean COME ON!!!! We have our full back doubling as a LB and he lead the team in tackling?!?!?! We have some injuries, playing without Williams and Sabino hurts.  Will the real Curtis Grant please stand up?

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

onetwentyeight's picture

It's college - the blame always goes to the coaching staff first. Why? They're PAID and the players aren't. It's their job to get the players to perform and execute. They stake their financial livelihood (and some small % of our ohio taxpayer money) on it, and should be the ones accountable. I always have a hard time slamming a bunch of college kids playing a sport for free. Yes players might f*ck up on the field, but that's why we pay the coaches MILLIONS of dollars to ensure that they don't. 

LadyBuck's picture

I'd argue that the players are getting paid via full scholarships. We are paying their way through school, despite the fact tht there are some of them that either A) don't care that much about academics, B) would be unable to gain admission into the school otherwise, or C) will leave before obtaining a degree. I am sure there are kids out there who would put those scholarship dollars to excellent use through research and bettering themselves, but we give them to the atheltes because we want to give them a chance, but most of all, because we wany to win. If you don't think we cut academic corners with some of these guys, then I don't know what world you're in. Point is, they are getting free health care, meals, tuition, boarding (if on campus, if not, it's heavily discounted), tutoring, and networking on top of school. College costs an arm and a leg, and these kids are repaying their free ride to school with blood, sweat and tears. It's not just the coach's job to make sure they're doing well, it's their own responsibility.

onetwentyeight's picture

If you want to look at it from that point of view - Imagine an entire classroom of ~100 normal students on full academic scholarship, all of whom are mysteriously failing or close to failing a certain random GEC class. Wouldn't you immediately start to suspect that maybe something's up with the professor teaching that course? 
I'm not saying the players have had no hand at all in the defensive struggles, b/c they obviously have & they're the ones out there playing. But when you talk about assigning responsiblity equally, it just seems like a double standard to me b/c nobody would look at ^ that hypothetical classroom of academic scholly students and think the same way. 

Crimson's picture

So, if you're using the "we are paying their way through school" argument in the usual sense, then you're wrong.  It really depends on the "we" you're using.  Ohio State is one of a few profitable football programs in the country, so the "we" refers to those who are buying tickets, merchandise, and watching the Bucks in general.
At any other school in the state, the money could not be paid by athletic revenue, so "we" would refer to taxpayers (more or less true).  Then your "give it to those who care about academics" argument kicks in.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Needs a 4th option. A combination of both + injuries.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Johnny_Buck71's picture

Well, if Meyer is now stepping in to figure it out (supposing he truely doesn't know what the issue is) I doubt us well meaning fans have much of a meaningful clue. Nonetheless, here are my 2 cents. I seem to recall a conversation about differing defensive philosophies between Fickel and Withers (Meyer favoring Withers approach). Is there just a lack of defensive identity, leading to confusion and overthinking on the part of the players? You really want defenders reacting and not thinking. Otherwise, you get players out of position. Said out of position player may try to overcompensate and suddenly become poor tackler. 
A related note: the defensive line really missed Williams yesterday. They just can't seem to get consistent pressure without him from the front four. I know it's football cliche about winning the battle up front but I barely heard the names of our D-line all game. So where the back 7 are getting a lot of criticism it seems to me it starts up front. I know they are just freshman but Im even more concerned about our future (Goebel, Simon, Williams, probably Hankins are gone next year).  

A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore. - Yogi Berra

onetwentyeight's picture

Interesting theory on Fickell/Withers. I guess we'll find out in the future... 
 

themostbrian's picture

The main playmakers in our defensive concept are linebackers. Our talent and/or experience levels at linebacker are horrifically low right now.
Curtis Grant has been very disappointing.
Storm Klein was suspended for awhile and is clearly not athletic enough to play as the sideline to sideline linebacker that Meyer prefers.
Ryan Shazier has been banged up and seems prone to a couple great plays and then a couple bad plays - His pursuit angles are very concerning to me.
Etienne Sabino is hurt and out for at least 3-4 weeks.
Josh Perry / David Perkins / Jamal Marcus and Luke Roberts are true freshman.
Connor Crowell is hurt and has zero experience.
Zach Boren is a fullback.
 
That's your linebacking corp. The job of our defensive line is to try and get to the quarterback AND take up as many blockers as possible to allow linebackers to sit in the gaps and stop the ball carriers and/or recievers downfield. That requires linebackers who A) Know what they're doing (experience) and B) Have the ability to do it consistently (talent).
Right now we have a lot of talented linebackers with ZERO experience (all the freshmen, Crowell) and one with experience who don't seem to have the talent (Klein), one with neither great talent NOR experience at LB (Boren), one guy who is hurt and has been disappointing throughout his career (Sabino), one guy who looks like the next Sabino in terms of lots of talent but no production (Grant) and one guy who has loads of talent but is inconsistent in application (Shazier).
I guess what I'm saying is that there's only SO MUCH coaches can do scheme-wise when your linebackers are this poor.

NYC Buckeye's picture

I couldn't agree more...
I love Shazier, but let's be honest, by our defensive stadards, he should be the second best LB... we are missing that playmaking LB along the lines of Hawk, Laurinitis, or even the Rolle/Homan combo...  
As you mention, it looks like Grant is heading towards a Sabino like career...  I know we have a lot of freshman, but I feel we need to bring in a couple more kids in the incoming class...

LadyBuck's picture

A combination of both. There's only so much scheming we can do when key injuries happen. A thinner than paper LB corp using offensive players in their starting rotation should've tipped us off. It isn't a coward option, but the most realistic.

southbymidwest's picture

So, given my limited knowledge of football plays, I have a question. OK, a couple of questions. Bucks are raggedly thin at linebacker, especially MIKE, correct? If I understand correctly, the MIKE linebacker is the guy who reads the opposing offense and makes adjustments to the defensive line before a play. So, doesn't he need to be kind of a walking encyclopedia of offensive and defensive plays, and be able to quickly read and analyze changes in said offense? Realistically, how many freshmen players in big football programs can do that, without big negative consequences to the rest of the defense? Yeah yeah, Laurinitis did it, but he's kind of extraordinary. If you put a freshman in there, is he in a position where he has a good chance to fail, especially in a big game? Would it be easier to put a freshman in another linebacker position, or does each LB position have its unique requirements, and you can't really switch them? I know we have a number of very knowledgeable posters here who could illuminate this for me.