Just One Tweak: Episode III

By Jason Priestas on February 14, 2008 at 2:00 pm
General Patton

We have a spirited and growing community of readers that do a great job of adding to the running conversation. To recognize a few of these, we have asked them each to write a guest post about what they’d tweak to ensure the Buckeyes got (yet another) shot at redemption in ‘08. Joe Fox got things rolling two weeks ago, with the GoBucks89 getting his turn last week. Today, TLB, one of site's first commenters, gets his crack.

"Always take the offensive...Never Dig in."

Those are the words of the Great General George S. Patton.

It’s tough to find fault with a team that has lost 3 games in 2 years, however those 3 losses have all come about with a lack of aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball. It has more to do with the philosophical approach by the co-defensive coordinators than with the dreaded SEC speed. The physical ability of the players at Ohio State is as good, if not better, than anyone they meet on the field. The difference between winning and losing those 3 games has been the inability of the defense to dictate the way the game is played.

If you look at all 3 games, the defense, which has shut down just about everyone else they have played (including holding The Hun to less than 100 total yards) has been unable to get off the field. The opposing offenses have been able to control the clock and pick up key 3rd downs. And, as GoBucks89 has pointed out, the lack of turnovers is due to a lack of aggressiveness with the overall game plan.

We can continue to win 11-12 games a year playing the bend but don’t break style, avoiding giving up the occasional big play or we can tweak our style and impose our will on our opponents.

Simply put, we need to blitz more (can you believe I would subscribe to that theory?) (Ed: TLB is the nephew of a famous NFL defensive coordinator.). I’m not asking for a fire blitz every play, but we should have the ability to send linebackers, corners and safeties whenever we want, wherever we are on the field. Perhaps we could even send an LB and drop a DE into coverage….or maybe give a look like everyone is coming, and then drop off into coverage. Very rarely do teams have multiple big-play receivers, so our corners should be able to handle one on one coverage, especially if the pass rush is getting pressure on the QB.

This can work with the run as well. Walk the safety up, move the linebackers around, send 7 guys when you key a running play. It’s getting tiresome watching out linebackers, who are supposed to be some of the best in the country, making tackles 5-6 yards down field because they are reacting to a play rather than exploding into the line and forcing the runner to abandon his initial point of attack. We saw it against Florida with their long drives done mostly with short passes and against Illinois as they ran the clock out gaining 5-6 yards every running play.

We must begin to force our opponents to play our game. Force them to change their style. Force them to alter their game plan and confuse their leader. We have a lot of starters back on the defensive side of the ball, so adding a few wrinkles shouldn’t be a problem.

Coach Tressel can only live on the 2002 National Championship for so long. If no philosophical changes are made, he will be a prime example for another quote by the great General: "All glory is fleeting."