Breaking Down: The Ohio State Defensive Clinic Part II

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rkylet83's picture

Awesome as always.  This gives great insight to why(or where) breakdowns were happening when opponents gashed us for rushing yards early in the season.

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DaiTheFlu's picture

I thought we got gashed more through the air to start the season - a la Cincinnati - and then on the ground later in the year - Minny, Indiana, TTUN to a small extent.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

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Buckeyeneer's picture

Thanks, Ross. Great stuff!

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

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FitzBuck's picture

Love the gifs to illustrate your writing.  Thanks Ross.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

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Buckeyejohn's picture

These are my favorite articles to read. Can't wait for the next one. 

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buckeye phi's picture

These are among my favorite features on the site.  Thanks, Ross.

Good point about this defense leaving us a little more vulnerable to break-downs in the front seven against the run.  In fact, I believe you may have touched on this a bit following the Indiana game.  It was clearly evident in that game. 

Still though, that beats being ripped to shreds in the passing game like we were in 2013.  Obviously, hiring Coach Ash was a brilliant move -

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

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Seattle Linga's picture

Re-watching the game (what I saw) last night it was cool watching the bullets fly around knowing exactly the position they had to be in to make the plays. MM was "off" after that opening drive. And people said he just had an off night - Ok got it media. 

See you in Indy !!

It's not a rivalry .............. it's a wreckoning.

Seattle Sounders 2019 MLS Champions

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BGSUBucksFan's picture

To be fair, his receivers didn't help him out much on the next two drives.  Then after that, of course, the bullets didn't help him out much!

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Run_Fido_Run's picture

For example, in the third video (above), with the game tied 7 to 7: MM dumped the ball wide to the WR on one of those "combo" plays, which wasn't going anywhere (the WR was tackled for a no gain, or 1 yard loss), when MM probably could have grunted out a 2-yard positive gain (D Lee was waiting for him). I think MM had been hit hard a few times already in that game, though, so he might have been a bit flustered.

When a veteran, polished QB like MM makes these types of minor errors (not taking the short gain), I don't think you can attribute to him being "off." He's off if the defense gives him 4.5 seconds in the pocket and he throws an inaccurate ball, etc.    

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Seattle Linga's picture

@ BGSU and RFR - both are correct - if they were going to beat us - they had to take advantage of EVERY SINGLE opportunity without fail and once we got the lead and were punishing them offensively - we were clearly in their heads. No Helfrich halftime speech was going to "Right" the oregon ship.

See you in Indy !!

It's not a rivalry .............. it's a wreckoning.

Seattle Sounders 2019 MLS Champions

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Icouldnotgofor3's picture

Ash in particular deserves a lot of credit for turning that whole secondary around. Urbs even more so because he knew what was broken and brought in the man who could get it fixed, plus took away a genius from Bert at the same time.

Saban on a cart eating cold pizza

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HELLBENDER's picture

It will be interesting to see how the secondary performs in their second year under Ash's system. Confidence is up no doubt.

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DaiTheFlu's picture

Agreed, but losing Grant will hurt more than we think. From what I hear, starting corners will be Eli Apple and Gareon Conley. Apple is a stud, but Conley hasn't had a ton of time to shine, and some games he played were concerning (MSU, for example). We should be set at safety, however, and I for one would LOVE to see more of Erick Smith!

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

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Hovenaut's picture

Excellent - love the details into the calls/responsibilities the safeties are assigned with - a little more respect towards Powell and Bell.

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Cooper's picture

I always remember safeties and corners getting tripped up in high school on 10 yard out and crossing routes because they didn't know if they should switch the man and stay in their zone or keep following the route. I enjoyed man coverage and loved being put on an island. I'm sure the OSU secondary does too and this scheme is paying dividends for our defense. Thanks for the breakdown, Ross.

This is definitely where I parked my car.

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Run_Fido_Run's picture

Ross, another excellent analysis. I'm not well versed on the x's and o's, but my impression is that Ash's relatively conservative Cover 4 approach achieves really good balance when his front 7 is stopping/containing the run game at a high level. In that system, the rush defense - relying on the front 7 do most of the work - usually doesn't figure to completely shutdown a higher-level rushing attack (although they did just that against Wisconsin), but then the DBs/LBs are freed up to stifle the passing game and limit big plays, as you describe. 

In the post-season in 2014, everything started to fall into place for the front seven. Bosa was learning to be more fundamentally sound, Curtis Grant was finally playing instinctively and consistently, D. Lee had turned into a bad motha, Bennett and Diesel were playing like men possessed, Josh Perry was a rock, etc. In the Bama game, D. Henry had a lot of success, but otherwise the front 7 really held their own.

Correct me if I'm wrong, though, the risk with this approach is if the front 7 is just okay at stopping the run? Because the system gives them relatively light support against the run game, opposing offenses will pick on this "weakness" repeatedly, especially since they're not likely to have much success downfield in the passing game. We get games like 2014 Minnesota and 2014 Indiana.

I'm not really worried because . . . Raekwon McMillan. But what would Ash do if he had a defense that was loaded in the secondary and so-so in the trenches? Would he change his system to accommodate his skill set?  

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Ross Fulton's picture

As someone mentioned above, we saw this scenario play out against Minnesota and Indiana. OSU had some breakdowns up front, which allowed those offenses to gain yards rushing. But they stuck with playing their base defense. I think part of that can be attributed to "you have to walk before you can run" and last season was certainly a learning curve on getting the nuances of Ash's system down. But I also think it does put pressure on the DL to maintain gap responsibilities and the LBers to correctly diagnose the play and leverage the football. 

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BUCKEYE3M's picture

Thanks Ross, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I always learn something reading your stuff.   I appreicate the new way I watch presnap movement and alignment, but also anticipating reads as they happen. Rewatching the final three games of 2014 is a lesson all in their own rights, respectively.  Seeing how we responded to Melvin Gordon, Derrick Henry & Amari Cooper, then Marcus Mariota is a thing of ebauty.  The adjustments Ash and Fickell make from this scheme are the difference.

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1MechEng's picture

Thanks, Ross! I feel like I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

It seems like much of the success of these schemes is predicated on the ability of the safety to make the right read and then get to their spot quickly once the play starts. Therefore, the safeties must be intelligent and ultra-athletic.

My question is - is the decision-making of the DB slightly diminished (w/less responsibility) compared the safety, who is basically the QB of the secondary?

Trust me! I'm an Engineer.

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ohiobobg's picture

Great stuff Ross!

Damn, I wish I could understand this. I can design a friggin' operating system but I can't wrap my head around OSU schemes.

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

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11UrbzAndSpices's picture

Well have you heard that Tom Herman is in MENSA...

If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.

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Youngbuck85's picture

Really outstanding article. It's fascinating to learn just how many reads go into one play on defense. Ross, will they play cover 4 exclusively against 2x2 formations or will they keep it for 3x1 as well and just shift the safeties to the strong side? 

MD

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Ross Fulton's picture

They will play cover 4 -- but with special calls to account for trips. I will detail those calls in my next column.

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Youngbuck85's picture

Thank you, and thanks for your work. Great article as always 

MD

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BuckeyeCrusdader's picture

It's obvious to me that Vonn Bell became a big film Junkie.. he knew exactly which route Kenzel Doe was running.. baited the QB all the way.

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Squirrel Master's picture

It does help having the Dline that they have in front of them. They cover for a few seconds and guys like Bosa will eat the QB alive!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

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TTUN@SS@SIN's picture

Awesome breakdown. thanks

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” - Mark Twain

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Cincysweatervest9's picture

Pretty cool insight thank you kindly!

Dayman fighter of the Nightman, champion of the Sun!

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DaiTheFlu's picture

I'm curious to see how this scheme will look this year now that we lose our rock solid CO in Doran Grant. As of now, starting CBs look to be Apple and Conley, and it looks like this scheme essentially requires our starting corners to lock down the outside receivers on an island. If someone like Conley can't quite handle that responsibility on his own yet, how would that alter the scheme, if at all?

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

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socalbuck2014's picture

The best defense is a strong offense and we have the strongest. If you are playing from behind you have to pass and passing vs Bosa and Hubbard with a blitzing Lee omg you have issues.

Pay it forward

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causeicouldntgo43's picture

Further confirmation that Urban recruits assistant coaches better than anyone. Great work Ross!

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johngobuck's picture

Wow you sure Coach Ash wants this info getting out there on how his defense works....   These articles are wonderful but almost too good!

HS