Changes in Defensive Staff and New Scheme Focused on Helping Largely the Same Roster Stop the Run

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BuckNutChicago's picture

Credit Day for forgoing the status quo after last year's defensive trainwreck but there's still a ton of pressure of the new head coach

This goes without saying.  We're in the honeymoon period with Day.  A different reality will sink in quickly if the defense doesn't dramatically improve.

Go Buckeyes!!!

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Darksungm's picture

One of the most pleasant surprises ever was Day pulling the trigger on the defensive staff. I was concerned he'd be too nice, but I'm glad to say I was so so wrong.

God bless and go Bucks.

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Cincybuckeye's picture

He's a young coach with no HC experience. Gotta make tough decisions to make a name for yourself. Definitely was great to see him make the needed changes. 

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IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I think opposing OC's, starting with the 2017 season, had figured out Greg Schiano's defense. Lincoln Riley showed precisely how to beat it and other teams including Iowa, Oregon State, Penn State, Nebraska, Maryland, and any team with an offense capable of stretching the field exploited it. All of our kids were out of position for almost the entire season and it was painful to watch. At least going into 2019 opposing teams wont know what Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley will throw at them. I hope it's something solid to tell the opposition that 2018 was an aberration for us defensively. (Keeping my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed).

"You're the patron saint of the totally effed" - Hot Tub Time Machine

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CowCat's picture

You're probably right, though the cliff-diving drop in defensive rankings in just one year (2017 vs. 2018) is completely baffling.

I suppose it's a chicken vs. egg discussion. Was it that Schiano's scheme was flawed? Or was it that the newer players couldn't execute that scheme, even though it worked well the previous year? 

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

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Trebor40's picture

We lost the safety opposite Fuller in Webb, we lost the linebackers primarily trained by Fickell and finally we lost the veteran athletic D-Line, I believe we were just as talented on the D-Line if not more so, yet their role changed as well! 

I would rather be on hand with 10 men then elsewhere with 10,000 - Timur Lenk

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Darksungm's picture

All of the long runs were painful, but the worst for me was in the B1G championship game. I remember thinking "bye bye CFP" since our defense was such a sticking point. Granted the Purdue loss was most of it but the defense didn't help.

God bless and go Bucks.

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Earle's picture

Thank you for not posting video/gifs of last season's defensive gaffes.  Just reading about them again was enough.

I think that a little bit of gap integrity and a lot less press coverage will make a big difference in the run D.  At least I hope so.

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BuckeyeatTSUN's picture

Oh, you thought the thing at the top under the title was a picture?  It is actually a GIF of Tuf Borland running full speed.

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tcm1968's picture

I will never understand the "complicated scheme" thing. The scheme was fine every other year but suddenly it was scheme last season. Luke did a lot of the same stuff and walked guys up to the line as well... the difference year to year was the talent drop at LB. Can argue coaching, recruiting but I will never believe it's scheme. Especially when everyone shouts "scheme" from the rooftops but Urban never let any kids get a chance to play LB in that scheme last year. Borland, Werner, Harrison and a dash of Browning and repeat... 

No scheme on the planet is going to make Borland fast enough to cover playoff caliber athletes. 

Dumbing down the scheme is fools freaking gold. It will keep us in the right position against inferior talent and the stats will improve but then when you get to the games that count later in the season and into the playoffs a vanilla defense is ripe for OCs who can exploit it... see Michigan the past few years as example #1...

Still believe for us to have playoff caliber success at linebacker someone other than Borland, Werner or Harrison is going to have to make a big jump in playing time this season.. and hope if we start vanilla as the season winds on we start to get a lot less vanilla each game moving forward..  dudes like Dabo and Saban will just crush base defenses.. 

Go Bucks!

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buckeyepastor's picture

I don’t know if simple means vanilla, necessarily. And I agree with you that the defense needs to not only be better but also more advanced, and that it was much more than scheme. It was so many guys losing one on one battles even when they were where they needed to be. 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

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tussey's picture

I get what you are saying, but I think something to consider is that because we ran strictly cover 1 man, teams would expect this and come up with offensive formations that would exploit the responsibilities of the defenders.  Do agree about the coaching aspect.  I don't think Billy Davis was that great of a fundamentals teacher and so everything snowballed.  You have poor teaching of proper technique needed to execute a scheme made more difficult by the way offenses were lining up to attack it.  

I think the thought is to just have a stingy defense similar to what Northwestern runs.  In that it is difficult to march up and down the field against them and they good talent, but not first round talent scattered throughout.  

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Mean Mr Mustard's picture

Cover-1 base means they have a lot of numbers on the line.  That should do a decent job stopping the run b/c of the numbers. 

I think some of the confusion is that they didn't know who they were supposed to cover in man especially if you added some motion and various formations. https://www.elevenwarriors.com/ohio-state-football/film-study/2018/11/99...

Pattern matching can get confusing and really difficult when the offense runs RPOs.

I would think that it would be simpler for a college team to run a zone like Northwestern does for the most part, but I would have more zone blitzes.  A zone base would be way more appealing if we didn't have a lot of 1st round talent at corner through the years.

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huffdaddy's picture

It's not "dumbing down" the defense - it's running a college scheme for college players. The issue was not simply "Borland is slow." Hell, Malik Harrison is not slow, and people still ran right through the gaps where he was supposed to be. I'm sure the 49ers or Buccaneers LBs would have been in position, but they are 28 year old men playing football full time as their jobs. 

The reason it never got better all season is because our geniuses on the defensive side were convinced the scheme was great instead of looking in the mirror. 

"I don't think you necessarily have to get a trophy to be a winner." - Nick Saban 1/2/15.

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CowCat's picture

I agree with you that it's not "dumbing down". It's more about accountability. Players should know their role in every defensive play call. It doesn't mean we aren't going to be creative in how we attack other teams. It just means that players are coached well enough that they don't have to think when the ball is snapped.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

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Trebor40's picture

^^^^^ This, it seems that VERY FEW are willing to look at the fact that Harrison was on the same side a number of times that long runs were had. In truth some of the times that Werner (who played rather poorly) came into the picture was because he was FAST enough to back into the play from the OTHER SIDE!  Rarely did we see a congested LOS we instead saw uneven break through as some D-Line would penetrate while others would hold or be stopped, which created natural running lanes! 

I would rather be on hand with 10 men then elsewhere with 10,000 - Timur Lenk

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Arsenal7's picture

The scheme was fine every other year but suddenly it was scheme last season.

the scheme was absolutely not fine in 2017 when we got torched by Oklahoma and gave up 55 POINTS TO IOWA 

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IGotAWoody's picture

That defense in 2017 could consistently stop the run, tho. Outside of the Iowa game, the defense played at a high level. The losses to Iowa and OK were both total team losses, whereby the offense couldn't consistently move the ball, which put the defense on the field more than necessary, and everything snowballed out of control.

But the 2017 defense ranked #6 in the country for rushing defense (yds allowed/game), ranked #9 in total defense and #15 for scoring defense.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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BbBnD's picture

If your scheme relies on first round talent at multiple positions in the back 7, your scheme sucks. Iowa and OU laid the foundation and a bunch of teams in 2018 built upon it. The OU game should’ve been a lot worse, but miscues and poor execution by the OU offense kept the score down and OSU in it for much longer than they should’ve been. They should’ve scored 2 or 3 more times earlier in that game. 

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IGotAWoody's picture

If your scheme relies on first round talent at multiple positions in the back 7, your scheme sucks. 

Ummm, yeah.... uhhhh... what?!? 

The OU game should’ve been a lot worse, but miscues and poor execution by the OU offense kept the score down and OSU in it for much longer than they should’ve been.

That's because OK's offense wasn't perfect. You know, because no offense is. And some of the "miscues" and "poor execution" come from the pressure the defense is applying.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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andretolstoy's picture

I don't recall Luke scheming like Schiano did. If anything, he'd drop players back more than walk them to the line. 

If you die before you die, then you won't die when you die. 

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buckslan's picture

Trying to say scheme wasn't an issue last year shows you don't really know what you're talking about. If it's not scheme then you're basically saying Urban has been an overrated recruiter the past few years.

Michigan is not an example of bad scheme. They are an example of really great scheme with not quite the same talent as we do (their defense is littered with former 3* and low 4* guys that would not have been recruited to OSU), yet Don Brown has had them in position to succeed wayyyyyyy more than Schiano did for us last year. Ryan Day saw that and said I want 2 of your assistants to come with me. Ryan Day wants Greg Mattison to bring that Michigan defense to OSU, but use OSU caliber recruits (i.e. better, more athletic prospects)

So yeah, your comment is very pessimistic and wrong.

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Trotwoodbuck's picture

The Michigan defense has had 13 players drafted by NFL teams over the past three seasons.  OSU may have more talent overall, but the idea that no one playing for Michigan's defense recently would have been recruited by OSU or could have started for OSU is unlikely.  Personally I would like to see who gets on the field this year for OSU at LB and how they perform before I decide where last seasons problems originated.  I found it more than a bit jarring for OSU to hire not one, but two coaches from Michigan's staff.  Clearly someone thought they were doing something better up there than they were in Columbus despite their inability to actually defeat OSU. 

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BucksHave7's picture

Amazing to think last years D gave up an avg of 403 yards/game.  Worst ever for a Buckeye D EVER.  

BucksHave7

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Hovenaut's picture

Need to reclaim Linebacker U again.

I know it's not the end objective, but doing so will help the Buckeyes chances immensely.

The pieces (players and staff) are in place.

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kmp10's picture

Ohio State's rush defense was historically bad in 2018..."

So was its pass defense. That entire side of the ball was unworthy of the silver bullet moniker, so hopefully this year's defense will be significantly better... although I'm far from sold on Mattison being able to do what Schiano couldn't.  

When I die, sprinkle my ashes over the 70's 

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mmp15f's picture

It just has to be accepted that Borland’s lack of speed is severe. He’s not athletic enough to be a starting linebacker at the top level of college football no matter what scheme he’s in.

I still think the scheme change will help our linebackers, and I definitely think the coaching changes will help, but Borland is not our answer at Mike.

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andretolstoy's picture

Borland was always in a position that made it difficult for him to get in position to tackle. Many folks point to his speed, I don't think it was that as much as being lost in space. 

If you die before you die, then you won't die when you die. 

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BbBnD's picture

Borland was and probably still is grotesquely slow. Rewatch some games. It’s crystal clear. 

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andretolstoy's picture

How does a grotesquely slow LB get recruited on to a Meyer coached team? 

If you die before you die, then you won't die when you die. 

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buckeyepastor's picture

To me, as bad as the overall numbers were was that there just wasn’t development and improvement.  We have had a lot of years where the defense gives up big plays and takes weeks to find itself, but typically by November things look different.  Last year, well, Maryland and TTUN and even a not very explosive Northwestern team putting up sick yards and points on us says it all.  Granted, we still won handily over two of those opponents, but to not even see improvement of the defense at year’s end was awful 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

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allinosu's picture

I read several articles over time on different sites since last year as well as comments on here as to the why the defense is or was so bad. It ranges from players being too slow, bad in coverage bad angles and so on and yet one from letterman row that made a lot of sense to me. There was a lot to it but it came down to last year players were trying to fit the scheme instead of the other way around. The interview (I can't off hand remember the past buckeye defenseman)along with footage showed that the defensive line was just as responsible for gap integrity breakdowns as LBs. He also stated the scheme was for the LBs to shoot gaps (go around blocks) which left huge gaping holes. Lastly is that the defense will now be taught the UM's scheme which is taking on the blocker and peeling off keeping the gaps sound. Last year was last year and I'm looking forward to the defense being a huge strength once again.

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Earle's picture

I'm not ready to write off Borland just yet.  Looked good in limited action as a freshman, and played last year on a bum achilles.  Should he have been playing 6ish months after surgery?  Maybe not, but I wasn't in the LB room or at practice.  Maybe the young guys just weren't ready.  I'd like to see him healthy in a read/react scheme before I cast him aside.

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swyfte's picture

I agree with you about the Achilles and taking a wait-and-see approach. His freshman year Borland reminded me of a Wisconsin linebacker; not necessarily a physical specimen that will wow you but he had a knack for the ball and was in position to make a play. 

Having said that if his speed of play doesn't get back to that freshman year level I think you have to pick someone else. 

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hetuck's picture

I've posted it before, but it bears repeating: Mattison has the opportunity to make quantum improvement like Warriner did following "On one" Bollman. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

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buckslan's picture

The defense was terrible at giving up the big plays, but they were quite consistent if you take those big chunk yardage plays out, which makes it even more head scratching at how bad some of the stats are. It's not like the defense was getting beat up and down the field with offenses marching down the field. We'd be able to hold our own some and then bam, the RB goes for 80 yards on us.

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Chris Lauderback's picture

Somewhat to your point, Ohio State ranked a very respectable 15th in the country with a 32.7% third down conversion rate. 

BuckNut_1974's picture

Day has also left no doubt he expected the 2019 defense to show major improvement over last season's group as evidenced by recent comments to Yahoo's Pete Thamel. 

 I would certainly hope so. We couldn't get much worse.

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gobucks1966's picture

My only negatives and these are just thoughts. If I'm off base more than happy to hear it from you cats. Getting two coach's from TTUN for defense worries me a bit because why couldn't they come up with a plan to even halt us a little bit if they are so good? Maybe it was Browns fault and another reason to leave up North would be my answer? I also have watched that replay many times and on one time out they showed the TTUN side lines and Mattison was listening in with a look on his face of are you nuts. Either way we easily could of score much more against them and the kick off blunder gave them points that shouldn't of been. Washington made perfect sense to come home to coach plus he is making more than what he was to make up north. Mattison is a different story and not sure why the move unless  it maybe a bit of what I mentioned above and getting away from Harbaugh who I think is short of a card or two and not kidding. He strikes me of a strange dude. Lastly the Sp. teams coach strikes me as a strange hire. Not sure what his spot on this staff is all about. Not a ton of responsibility and coaching sp. teams is not a thing that's very difficult other than having the talent to hold your lanes. I would of tried to get another coach to help with db's but then again I feel Day has a plan.

Denny

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Trebor40's picture

I feel like Day was very ruthless, the group of coaches that he selected have a profound affect upon the teams they come from and honestly the recruiting area he wants to control. 

I would rather be on hand with 10 men then elsewhere with 10,000 - Timur Lenk

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BuckIDave's picture

Cutting the big plays to a minimum will mean a vastly improved Ohio State defense. The 2018 numbers makes me think that the 2019 numbers will be much better. It would be very hard to repeat the defensive lapses of last year, given that re-tooling the defense will be a strong point of emphasis with the coaching staff.

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HSGABuck's picture

The photo says it all.  Pete chasing somebody from behind.  At least he caught a few, albeit 15 yds downfield.  Tuf couldn’t run ME down.  

In Antoine Winfield I trust

 

Craig Zak

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typeOHpositive's picture

Given the title of this article, I thought it would be a lot more tittilating.

"I don't want to be around average, why be around average!" -UFM

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TkeBuck's picture

i dont know that i expected much from this story especially since the accompanying photo was our guy, tuf borland, typically chasing an opposing rb from behind and, of course, ol pete nowhere to be seen... maybe my sarcasm, maybe not. please get better lb's, please get better!

klusewski

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typeOHpositive's picture

Or Pete bouncing off a ball carrier while attempting a tackle Werner.

"I don't want to be around average, why be around average!" -UFM

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