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Maryland - Defensive Play By Play Analysis

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saltybuck61's picture
October 14, 2021 at 1:50pm

This is the defensive play-by-play analysis series that has been going on the whole season, with the last defensive one located here. This format I have been using is basically the same as used for the Upon Further Review series over at MgoBlog. The most recent one for them is located here.

Last week, Ohio State stuffed an improved Rutgers team, but that didn’t tell us much. Minnesota and Oregon were struggles, which resulted in the changing of the defensive staff. The Tulsa game, while an improvement, still showed some real holes in the defense. Then Ohio State played Akron and Rutgers, and while they did look better, they played some really atrocious offenses. There was a real questions as to how they would perform against a nominally good offense in Maryland.

They answered those questions emphatically. Here is the play-by-play analysis:

Play-by-Play Analysis vs. Maryland
Time Yard Line Down Distance O Formation D Package Front High Type Rush Play Player Yards Notes
First Quarter                          
15:00 UM 25 1 10 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 4-3 Over 1 Run   Counter Trey Simon 2 Simon (+0.5) gets to the hole, Williamson with good contain (+0.5). Tackling +0.5.
14:52 UM 27 2 8 Pistol 3W Trips Slot Motion 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 RPO 4 RPO Split Flow Shaw 6 Jean-Baptiste is read. Simon doesn't get out quickly, but Shaw (+0.5) comes down to make the tackle.
14:17 UM 33 3 2 Pistol Twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 Under 2 RPO  4 RPO Split Flow Hickman 13 Everyone gets sucked up toward the run on short yardage. Hickman (-1) eventually makes the tackle, but takes a poor angle to get there. Play-calling -1.
13:50 UM 46 1 10 Gun Offset 3W Slot Motion 4-2-5 4-3 Under 2 Run   Power Mitchell 3 Mitchell (+1) and Simon (+0.5) make the stop after penetration from Harrison (+0.5).
13:26 UM 49 2 7 Gun 5W 4-2-5 Field 1 Pass 4 Slot Screen Simon 7 Banks (+1) gets held, but it isn't called. Simon (-1) is a little lethargic getting to the sideline. 
13:03 OSU 44 1 10 Gun 3W Offset 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 RPO   RPO Inside Zone Hickman 4 Mitchell (+0.5) in a good spot to force the handoff, where Hickman (+1) cleans up with a good tackle. Tackling +1.
12:28 OSU 40 2 6 Gun 3W Trips 4-2-5 Under 2 Pass 6 Flood Rollout Burke 15 Williamson (-1) gets caught up on a blitz but knows mid play that something is off. Burke (-2) gets burned. Saved by an overthrow. Bad late hit call on Jean-Baptiste gives them 15. Play-calling -1. Coverage -2.
12:20 OSU 25 1 10 Gun 3W 4-2-5 4-3 Over 1 Pass 4 Smash Hickman 4 Good coverage on this one. Hickman (+1.5) follows the TE up until he becomes the deeper route, at which point he shoots down toward the hitch. Coverage +1.5
11:53 OSU 21 2 6 Gun 3W 4-2-5 Under 2 Run   Split Zone Hickman 3 Garrett (-1) gets cleared out. Hickman (+1.5) makes a nice tackle, with Mitchell there as well (+0.5). Tackling +1.5.
11:27 OSU 18 3 3 Gun 3W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 Pass 4 Spacing Jean-Baptiste -12 Nowhere to throw for Tagovailoa. Jean-Baptiste (+2) and Harrison (+1) the first to get there, with Garrett (+1) helping to finish up with JJB. Coverage +1. Pressure +2. Field Goal.
4:03 UM 25 1 10 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 Under 2 Pass 5 Y Cross Brown 0 Brown (+1) nearly gets there on the corner blitz, but can't make the tackle. Throw away. Vincent (+1) right behind him. Pressure +2. Tackling -0.5. Play-calling +1.
3:58 UM 25 2 10 Pistol Twin TE 4-2-5 Boundary 2 Run   Outside Zone Williamson 1 Williamson (+1) forces the run back inside, where Vincent (+0.5) and Simon (+0.5) are there to help clean it up.
3:24 UM 26 3 9 Gun 4W 4-2-5 2-4-5 Field 2 Pass 4 Flood Harrison -10 Harrison (+2) beats his man right off the line and draws the holding. Sawyer (+1) also gets good pressure. Simulated pressure freed up Harrison. Pressure +2.
3:10 UM 16 3 19 Gun 4W 3-2-6 Wide 2 Pass 2 HB Screen Chambers 13 Ransom (-1) misses a tackle earlier, but Chambers (+1.5) makes the tackle downfield. Team does a good job of recognizing the screen. Play-calling +1. Tackling -1.
0:17 UM 25 1 10 Ace Twin TE 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 Pass 4 HB Screen Chambers 4 Maryland thought they had a big play, but Chambers (+2) blows through the blocker to make the play. Banks (+0.5) does a nice job of getting off his block too. Tackling +2.
Second Quarter                          
15:00 UM 29 2 6 Pistol Twin TE 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 Run   Down G Chambers 6 Cage (-0.5) gets penetration but needs to stay in the middle. Chambers (-0.5) goes in the completely wrong gap, but is able to recover because Banks (+1) dives into the gap to give Chambers some time. Tackling -0.5.
14:33 UM 35 1 10 Gun Twin TE 4-2-5 Over 2 Pass 6 HB Swing Eichenberg -6 Eichenberg (+2), Shaw (+1) and Williamson (+1) all there to make the tackle. Excellent pursuit.
13:49 UM 29 2 16 Gun 3W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 Pass 4 Verticals Improvisation Garrett 0 Sawyer (+1) and Garrett (+1) get pressure to force a throw. Someone eventually flashes open, but it is caught out of bounds. Coverage +0.5. Pressure +1.5.
13:37 UM 29 3 16 Gun 3W Trips 3-2-6 Stack 2 Pass 4 Improvisation Ransom 0 Harrison (+1) nearly gets the sack but can't quite get there.Vincent (+0.5) is there though and forces a quick throw downfield, where Ransom (+2) has excellent coverage. Coverage +2. Pressure +2. Tackling -0.5. Punt
12:06 UM 25 1 10 Gun 5W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Boundary 2 Pass 4 Ohio Hickman 0 Chambers (-0.5) doesn't get over in time, but it was a man-beater. Play-calling -1. Hickman cleans up.
11:59 UM 34 2 1 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 Over 2 Read Option 4 Zone Read Eichenberg 3 Jean-Baptiste is read. Eichenberg (+1) hits the running back almost immediately.
11:39 UM 37 1 10 Gun Twin TE 4-2-5 Under 1 Run   Trap Ty Hamilton 0 Ty Hamilton (+2) holds up to a double team and stuffs the middle. Tyleik Williams (+1) and Eichenberg (+0.5) help on the TFL.
10:53 UM 37 2 10 Gun 4W 4-2-5 Boundary 2 Pass   HB Slip Screen Tyleik Williams 0 The defensive line again doesn't recognize the screen, but Tyleik Williams (+2) saves a huge play by deflecting the ball for an incompletion.
10:47 UM 37 3 10 Gun 3W Trips 4-2-5 2-4-5 Under 1 Pass 5 Quick Out  Hickman 10 Decent pressure, but Maryland drew up a quick out. Not going to beat that. Hickman's coverage was fine, just a great call and a great throw. Play-calling -1.
10:21 UM 48 1 10 Gun Twin TE 4-2-5 Over 1 Pass 4 PA Rollout Flood Burke 20 Williamson (+0.5) applies decent pressure, but another great call with a great throw neutralizes it. Play-calling -1. Ohio State being punished when they blitz. Pressure +0.5.
9:59 OSU 32 1 10 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 Under 2 RPO 5 RPO TE Seam Williamson 15 Eichenberg (-1) gets sucked up on the run; no help behind him. Good play design with the TE. Play-calling -1.
9:47 OSU 17 1 10 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 Over 1 Run   Mid Zone Hickman 8 Garrett (+0.5) and Jackson get excellent penetration, but Jackson misses the tackle. Hickman (+0.5) makes a decent tackle in the open.
8:56 OSU 9 2 2 Pistol Twin TE 4-2-5 Under 1 Pass 6 PA Screen Chambers 3 Banks (-0.5) hits him behind the line but can't make the tackle. Chambers (+2) flies across the formation to clean it up. Tackling -0.5
8:34 OSU 5 1 5 Pistol 3W Trips 4-2-5 Over 0 Read Option   Split Zone Read Harrison -2 Harrison (+2) is read, but manages to make the tackle for loss. Banks (+1) is there too.
7:49 OSU 7 2 7 Gun 3W Trips 4-2-5 Over 0 Pass 4 Spacing Garrett 0 Garrett (+2) comes free and forces an incompletion. Pressure +2. Coverage +1.
7:44 OSU 7 3 7 Gun 3W Z Motion 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 0 Pass 4 Spacing Eichenberg 7 Eichenberg (-2) bites on Tagovailoa scrambling, and abandons the receiver in his zone. Coverage -2. Touchdown.
6:54 UM 25 1 10 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Under 2 Pass 4 PA Slip Screen Simon 12 Defensive line is too aggressive on the screen again. Mitchell (-1) overpursues and gets too far outside. Harrison (-1) is the guy who needs to see the screen. Play-calling -1.
6:33  UM 37 1 10 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 Over 2 Penalty   False Start   -5 Maryland False Start
6:27 UM 32 1 15 Gun 4W Offset 4-2-5 Boundary 2 Pass 4 Swing Pass Shaw 9 Shaw (+0.5) and Brown (+0.5) come up to make the hit, but Brown is hurt. 
5:56 UM 39 2 6 Gun 3W Offset 4-2-5 Field 2 Pass 4 Slants Burke 12 Garrett (+1) gets great penetration. Burke (-1) gets beat, but slants are tough on man to man. Play-calling -1.
5:27 UM 50 1 10 Pistol 4W Trips 4-2-5 Field 2 Read Option   Zone Read Mitchell 3 Mitchell (+1) and Jean-Baptiste (+0.5) tackle the running back in the hole. Tackling +0.5
4:59 OSU 47 2 7 Gun 3W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 Run   Belly Zone Simon 5 Simon (+1) makes a nice tackle in the hole, with help from Mitchell (+0.5) and Hickman (+0.5).
4:23 OSU 42 3 2 Gun 3W Trips Offset 4-2-5 Over 1 Run   Jet Motion Inside Zone Jackson 1 Jackson (+1.5) blows up the defensive line and hits the runner immediately, though Simon (+1) also helps immediately.
3:39 OSU 41 4 1 Pistol 3W Tight 4-2-5 Over 1 Run   Inside Zone Williamson 30 Mitchell (-2) looks to hit the wrong hole, and Hickman (-1.5) misses a tackle. Williamson (+0.5) hustles to limit the damage. Tackling -1.5.
3:15 OSU 11 1 10 Gun Twin TE H Split Back 4-2-5 Over 1 Read Option   Inverted Veer Mitchell -3 Mitchell (+2) makes a great play in the backfield to get the TFL. Tackling +2.
2:36 OSU 14 2 13 Gun 4W 4-2-5 Boundary 1 RPO   RPO Bubble Screen Shaw 9 Shaw (+1) gets over to prevent the touchdown. 
2:06 OSU 5 3 4 Gun 3W 4-2-5 Over 0 Pass 4 Stick Burke 0 There is no one open and Tagovailoa just throws it away. Martinez (+1) and Burke (+1) with good coverage. Coverage +2.
1:59 OSU 5 4 4 Gun 4W Tight Motion Trips Bunch 4-2-5 Boundary 0 Pass 4 Mesh Tuimoloau -13 Tuimoloau (+1.5) is the first to get pressure, with Garrett (+1.5) right there. Pressure +2.
0:42 UM 22 1 10 Gun 3W 4-2-5 Over 2 Pass 4 PA Screen Burke 0 The receiver drops the ball, but Burke (+1.5) is right there anyway. Coverage +1.
0:37 UM 22 2 10 Gun 4W 4-2-5 Boundary 1 Pass 4 Spacing Banks 5 Banks(+1.5) is right there for the tackle after a short completion. Coverage +1. Tackling +1.
0:32 UM 27 3 5 Gun 4W Trips 4-2-5 Boundary 1 Pass 4 Slants Harrison 0 Pressure comes immediately and Harrison (+1) drops into coverage. Hickman (+1) was right there to lay the hit, but the ball was dropped. Coverage +1. Punt.
Third Quarter                          
12:26 UM 25 1 10 Gun 3W 4-2-5 4-3 Over 1 Read Option   Inverted Veer Chambers 1 I believe that Chambers (+2) is the read man, and somehow makes it all of the way to the edge to tackle their best receiver at the line of scrimmage. Williamson (+0.5) and Eichenberg (+0.5) do a nice job on the pursuit as well.
12:00 UM 26 2 9 Gun 3W Trips 4-2-5 Over 2 Read Option   Inverted Veer Eichenberg 1 Chambers is read again on the play. Jackson (+1) almost blows it up completely, but can't quite come down with the tackle. Garrett (+0.5) also pushes him more toward the sideline, where Eichenberg (+1) and Shaw (+1) can make a nice tackle at the line after shedding tackles.
11:22 UM 27 3 8 Gun 3W Offset 4-2-5 5-1 Under 2 Pass 4 Spacing Chambers 5 Chambers (+1.5) shows blitz and drops back, doing a nice job to cover the shallow cross, though Williamson (+1) is also there. Coverage +1. Punt
7:47 UM 25 1 10 Gun 3W Offset 4-2-5 Over 1 Pass 4 Slants Banks 0 Jackson (+1.5) nearly sacks Tagovailoa, and was probably held. Banks (+1.5) plays very tight coverage to force the incompletion. Coverage +1.5. Pressure +1.5.
7:43 UM 25 2 10 Gun 5W 4-2-5 Boundary 1 Pass 4 Hitch Burke 7 Burke is playing off the ball, and the throw is made for a short game. Garrett is hurt on this play. Pressure -0.5.
7:37 UM 32 3 3 Gun 3W Offset 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 1 Read Option   Zone Read Eichenberg 1 Harrison forces the handoff. Eichenberg (+1) and Chambers (+1) there for the stop.
7:26 UM 33 4 2 Pistol Twin TE 4-2-5 Over 2 RPO   Triple Option  QB Keep Eichenberg 2 Harrison stays home for the running back, while Eichenberg (+1) does a good job of delaying the throw for a second. Banks (+1) nearly prevents the first down with a good tackle. Tackling +1. Play-calling +1. Coverage +1.
6:29 UM 35 1 10 Gun 4W 4-2-5 Boundary 2 Run   QB Draw Banks -2 Banks (+2) does a great job of finishing the tackle. Great time to call the corner blitz, which they have done more this game than the last game or two. Play-calling +1. Tackling +1.
5:48 UM 33 2 12 Gun 3W Offset 4-2-5 3-3-5 Under 2 Pass 4 Scramble Vincent 1 Vincent (+2) gets good penetration with Cowan (+1) coming up later. Vincent gets held on this one, but OSU declines the penalty. Pressure +2. Play-calling +1. Coverage +1.
5:27 UM 34 3 11 Gun 3W Trips 4-2-5 2-4-5 Over 1 Pass 4 Scramble Chambers -7 Sawyer (+1), Vincent (+1.5), and Cowan (+1) all come free, with Chambers (+1) guiding Tagovailoa out of bounds. Coverage +2. Pressure +2. Punt.
2:31 UM 25 1 10 Gun 3W 4-2-5 Under 2 Run   Counter Martinez 2 Martinez (+2) makes a great tackle in a wide open hole to limit it to a 2-yard gain. Tackling +2.
2:08 UM 27 2 8 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 Run   Counter Simon 12 Mitchell (+1) does a good job of forcing this backinside, but Simon (-1) and Tyleik Williams (-1) miss the tackle, allowing another ten yards. Tackling -2.
1:42 UM 39 1 10 Ace 3W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 Pass   HB Slip Screen Mitchell 0 Mitchell (+2) reads this all the way, with help from Ty Hamilton (+1) and Cody Simon (+1)
1:15 UM 39 2 10 Gun 3W Trips Offset 4-2-5  Over 1 Pass   HB Flat K. Williams 18 Mitchell (-2) and Simon (-1.5) both miss tackles, which led to a big gain. Kourt Williams (+0.5) with a decent tackle downfield. Tackling -2.
0:56 OSU 43 1 10 Pistol 3W 4-2-5 Over 2 Pass   Bubble Screen Shaw 43 Martinez (-2), Cavazos (-2), and Shaw (-2) combine to miss three tackles. Ugly, ugly drive. There were 7(!!) missed tackles on this drive alone. Tackling -3. 
Fourth Quarter                          
10:37 UM 25 1 10 Gun 3W 4-2-5 Under 2 Read Option   Zone Read Sawyer 3 Sawyer (+1.5) is read, but manages to make the tackle as well.
10:06 UM 29 2 6 Gun 5W 4-2-5 Boundary 2 Pass 4 WR Screen Martinez 7 Should be too many men in the backfield if you ask me. Martinez nearly makes the play, but can't finish the tackle. Watts (-1) gets pushed back five yards. Eichenberg (+0.5) with great hustle to make it close. Tackling -0.5
9:43 UM 40 1 10 Gun 3W 4-2-5 Over 2 RPO   RPO Counter K. Williams 8 Sawyer drops and Chambers blitzes. This occupies an extra blocker on that side, and frees up Watts (-0.5) who misses a tackle. Tackling -0.5. Kourt Williams (+1) comes down hard to make a tackle though.
9:01 UM 48 2 2 Gun 3W 4-2-5 3-4 Over 2 Run   Counter Eichenberg 3 Martinez (-0.5) gets in the backfield, but can't make the tackle. Tackling -0.5. Eichenberg (+1) is right there to make it after though.
8:25 OSU 49 1 10 Gun 3W Offset 4-2-5 3-4 Over 2 Pass 4 PA Flood Sawyer -17 Sawyer (+2) beats his man and stays with Tagovailoa to get a huge sack to stall the drive. Cowan (+1) right there. Pressure +2.
7:46 UM 34 2 27 Gun 4W Trips 4-2-5 3-3-5 Boundary 2 Pass 4 Bubble Screen Eichenberg 0 Defensive line learns their lesson. Eichenberg (+1.5) moves past a block and gets a stop right at the line, with Ty Hamilton (+1) right there to make the stop. Coverage +1.5. Tackling +1.5.
7:05 UM 35 3 26 Gun 3W Trips 3-2-6 1-4-6 2 Pass 3 Verticals Watts INT Defensive line collapses the pocket. Ryan Watts (+2) gets the pick. Sawyer (+1), Ty Hamilton (+1) and Cowan (+1) with the pressure. Coverage +2. Pressure +2. 
5:39 UM 33 1 10 Gun 3W 4-2-5 3-3-5 Over 2 RPO 4 RPO Inverted Veer Young 1 Eichenberg forces a give. Young (+2) does a great job to attack the hole, and has enough speed to maintain an angle and stop the runner after a yard. 
5:15 UM 35 2 8 Gun 3W 4-2-5 4-3 Under 2 Pass 4 Fake Bubble Streak Cavazos 12 Turrentine (+0.5) not fooled by the bubble screen, and looks to be in a good spot, but can't get in the way of the pass. Coverage +0.5.
4:51 UM 47 1 10 Gun 4W 4-2-5 4-3 Boundary 2 Pass 4 PA Verticals C. Hamilton -10 Cormontae Hamilton (+2) shows off his high motor, continuing to pursue Tagovailoa even when he starts to exit the pocket. Pressure +2. Coverage +1.
4:15 UM 38 2 20 Gun 4W 4-2-5 Field 2 PAss 4 Swing Pass Cavazos 12 Young (+0.5) does his job, but Cavazos (-1) dives too quickly and doesn't keep contain. Turrentine (-1) misses a tackle. Tackling -2.
3:43 UM 50 3 7 Gun 3W Trips Bunch Tight 4-2-5 3-4 Under 2 Pass 4 Mesh Kacherski 11 Kacherski (-0.5) in soft coverage with an immediate tackle. The coverage could be closer. Coverage -0.5.
3:18 OSU 39 1 10 Pistol 3W Motion Gun 4-2-5 3-3-5 Under 2 RPO 6 RPO Glance Young INT TD Tagovailoa reads the linebackers, who crash, but Hancock (+2) is right on the hip of the receiver breaking in, and breaks up the pass. Young (+3) picks it off and takes it back for a touchdown. Coverage +2. Play-calling +1.
End of Game (MD runs out clock)                          

The defense largely held up against Maryland, though it wasn’t always perfect. There was the huge bust in the first quarter with 12:28 to go, and a receiver was left wide open in the end zone, but Tagovailoa overthrew him. Besides that though, they played well. The run game was completely shut down, and they were forced to pass all game.

The Buckeyes performed better than the aggregate stats suggest. The starters were only giving up 3.7 Yards Per Play (YPP), while the backups gave up 6.1 YPP. This is the difference between struggling to get first downs and moving the ball at will. Maryland’s averages were way down from how they usually play, especially against the run. There is a concern about depth here, as the backups played poorly, particularly with regard to tackling. The starters get most of the reps in practice though, and I imagine that’s doubly true for a unit that had to make a complete turnaround, so perhaps it is unreasonable to expect great play from the second team. Also, Maryland left their starters in the whole game, while Ohio State pulled them out early. I don’t know why more teams don’t do this, as it makes sense to let your starters play against a unit that is closer to their skill level. Regardless, here is the defensive chart:

Defensive Chart vs. Maryland
Player + - Total Notes
Defensive line        
zach harrison 7.5 1 6.5 He's been really reliable the past few games. He was in the backfield all day.
tyreke smith 0 0 0 DNP
Haskell garrett 7.5 1 6.5 While his loss is huge, Tyleik Williams makes it a little more bearable. Hopefully he can come back soon.
antwuan jackson 4.5 0 4.5 Been playing well the last few weeks. I want to see how he does against better lines, because all of the 1-techs struggled against Oregon.
taron vincent 5.5 0 5.5 Another guy who will need to step up with Haskell out.
javonte jean-baptiste 2.5 0 2.5 He played fine. His performance against Rutgers was going to be hard to top for him. Solid rotational piece.
jt tuimoloau 2 0 2 Quiet day, though got the sack against Tagovailoa. 
jack sawyer 7.5 0 7.5 Already one of the best pass rushers on the team.
tyleik williams 3 1 2 Not as dominant as the last few games
ty hamilton 5 0 5 Another guy that's starting to play much better. Another 1-tech who needs to show it against better competition.
cormontae hamilton 2 0 2 Had a nice sack late in the game. He plays hard and never gives up on a play. I really like the way he plays.
jacolbe cowan 4 0 4 Best game he has played so far.
jerron cage 0 0.5 -0.5 Didn't see him out there much.
Darrion henry-young 0 0 0 DNP
Michael Hall 0 0 0 DNP
Jaden McKenzie 0 0 0 No Chart
Total 51 3.5 47.5 It's hard to do better than that. I want to see it against good competition, but this is clearly the best part of the defense, especially now that they've pressured a team with good tackles.
teradja mitchell 8.5 5 3.5 One of his more active games. Still makes too many mistakes, but he played fine against a capable offense.
cody simon 4.5 3.5 1 Maybe it's my fault, but I have been grading him low all season. What am I missing? Is it due to injury?
tommy eichenberg 10 3 7 He looked…great? Again? 
dallas gant 0 0 0 DNP
Palaie Gaoteote 0 0 0 DNP
Steele Chambers 11 1 10 Ohio State's best linebacker right now, by a decent margin.
K'Vaughan Pope 0 0 0 DNP
Cade Kacherski 0 0.5 -0.5 Right now is probably in the third string. Not incredible, but might be able to be used in an emergency.
Reid Carrico 0 0 0 DNP
Ryan Batsch 0 0 0 No chart
Total 34 13 21 Lukewarm take: Chambers should start. Hot take: Eichenberg should start too.
cameron brown 1.5 0 1.5 Can't afford to lose him right now. Depth at corner is shaky.
Denzel Burke 2.5 3 -0.5 Probably his worst game as a Buckeye so far, but he was rarely tested.
Lathan Ransom 2 1 1 Fine at the deep safety spot. Serviceable, but he's still learning the position.
Bryson Shaw 4 2 2 Played really well with the exception of the touchdown in the second half with the three missed tackles on Rakim Jarrett.
Marcus Williamson 5 1 4 Really glad the coaches started him against Maryland. Well deserved. Used him like a linebacker at times, which was interesting.
Sevyn Banks 9.5 0.5 9 He really played well against the run. His performance shocked me, especially on re-watch. Makes the Cameron Brown injury easier to take.
Lejond cavazos 0 3 -3 Missed a couple of tackles.
ryan watts 2 1.5 0.5 Had the pick, but also had some issues.
cameron martinez 3 2.5 0.5 Not the best game for him to play when good tackling is essential. Platooning with Williamson 
jk johnson 0 0 0 No chart
Marcus Hooker 0 0 0 No chart
Jantzen dunn 0 0 0 DNP
Darmario McCall 0 0 0 DNP
Jordan Hancock 2 0 2 Nice coverage to get the deflection on the pick six.
Ronnie Hickman 6 2.5 3.5 Steady, good, football.
craig young 5.5 0 5.5 Great game. The cover safety move looks to be a good one, since they are using it more like a linebacker.
kourt williams 1.5 0 1.5 More of a classic strong safety body than Young. I think the coaches want him on the field more and more.
andre turrentine 0.5 1 -0.5 First action of the season, if I am correct.
pressure 25 0.5 24.5 Disruptive all day. This is what the defense is supposed to look like.
Coverage 24.5 4.5 20 A big bust early, but pretty good. Starters only allowed 3.6 YPP.
Tackling 14 14.5 -0.5 Hoo boy the backups absolutely collapsed in this category. They accounted for 10 of the minuses, and about 2 of the plusses.
Play Calling 6 8 -2 Pretty even. Early on, Maryland was punishing every blitz.

The defensive line was dominant, as usual. This was especially noteworthy as Maryland’s tackles have been pretty good all season. Maryland was much more likely to run deeper passing routes than Rutgers, Oregon, or Minnesota, so it makes sense that Ohio State had more success rushing the passer.

There really isn’t a ton to say about the defensive line, other than Tyleik Williams looked merely human for once. Also, Haskell Garrett’s injury is a big deal, though Williams and Taron Vincent have played well enough where I wouldn’t be too worried about that spot, even without their best player. J.T. Tuimoloau got his first sack this year on a crucial fourth down in the red zone with 1:59 to play in the first half. Jack Sawyer played very well, and he is really starting to pick it up. He was getting blown off the ball in the first two weeks, and I didn’t expect him to play much. Since then, he’s been getting a little better every week and wins a lot of one-on-one matchups with the tackles. He won’t start this year, but he is playing more than I expected.

The linebackers are far more interesting, particularly with how the rotation should be in the future. Teradja Mitchell had his most active game to date, but it was inconsistent. It is good to see him get more big plays though, as I think he has been one of the weaker pieces of the linebacker corps so far.

Nearly everyone thinks Cody Simon should start, but as I have graded him, he hasn’t graded out all that well this year. He hasn’t been bad, he just hasn’t been as good as I would think for the praise he gets. I marked a play as “lethargic” with 13:26 in the first quarter. That’s a bad sign. If any of the other three linebackers were there, I think they make the tackle. It may be injury related, as I know he’s been banged up, but he doesn’t have the same motor that the other three guys have shown, at least in my opinion. Maybe he’s trying to improve his tackling, as that has been a particularly weak spot for him. I should mention that I usually grade pretty harshly for missed tackles, and Simon has not tackled well compared to Eichenberg and Chambers. I have no idea; all I know is that I am not nearly as high on him as others are at this point, though I know I might be wrong on this one. I am not an expert on linebacker play. For a sneak peak of the cumulative chart, though, I have him rated as about the same level as Tommy Eichenberg for the season.

Speaking of Eichenberg, I put him down as the worst graded defender against Oregon. Since then, he’s been steadily improving, with a below average game against Tulsa, good performances against Akron and Rutgers, and now, a great performance against the best offense the Buckeyes have played this year. He looks to be the biggest beneficiary of the coaching changes so far, and I think he might deserve to start over Cody Simon, which I would have never considered just two weeks ago. Against Oregon, Simon was slightly positive, while Eichenberg was overwhelmingly negative. Now, Eichenberg is overwhelmingly positive, while Simon is slightly positive. I don’t know if his recent performance is sustainable, so I don’t know if it will continue, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start some games in the future, even if it is just to give Simon some needed time to heal from his injuries. With 14:33 in the second quarter, Eichenberg had excellent pursuit on a swing pass, getting the tackle for loss. With 7:46 in the fourth quarter, he makes another tackle right at the line of scrimmage on a bubble screen. He moves a lot better than I thought, and he takes good angles. He did make a huge mistake early in the game. On Maryland’s first touchdown, Eichenberg vacates his zone to chase Tagovailoa, but there was no one else defending the receiver, resulting in an easy touchdown. His upward trajectory is one of the biggest surprises in re-watches of these games.

After five weeks of doing this, I think I can definitively say that Steele Chambers is the best linebacker on the team right now, and there isn’t a close second. Even when he screws up, he can make up for it with his athleticism and his high effort play. There were two straight plays that demonstrated this. First, on the last play of the first quarter, a slip screen to the running back gets completed, and his lead blockers are all out ahead of him. He has three blockers and a bunch of green space. Chambers shoots over, sheds two blockers, and makes the tackle for a small four yard gain. The next play, they run to the left. Chambers gets caught up inside instead of staying outside, where he would have been able to fill a gap. Sevyn Banks makes a great play (though, I imagine it was a case of “nice play Sevyn, don’t ever do it again”). Even though he is supposed to keep contain, he dives in to slow down the running back. This could have been a huge play after an overly aggressive missed tackle, but because of Chambers’ relentless effort, he is able to make the tackle after a modest six yard gain. It was so fun to watch him in this game, and I hope he plays more and more. The defensive player of the game honors shows me that the coaches have noticed.

Speaking of Sevyn Banks, he had an excellent game against Maryland. He made a couple of really nice plays against the run, and even got a sack of Tagovailoa with 6:29 in the third. Just four plays before that, he broke up a pass to force an incompletion. He looked good in coverage and against the run. He missed a tackle or too, but I don’t expect corners to be unbelievable run stoppers. His play is going to be so important if Brown is out for an exteneded period of time.

The cover safety (nickleback) position was usually just a cornerback, and had been manned by Marcus Williamson and Cam Martinez up to this point, and Lathan Ransom early in the year. In this game, they started to use the nickleback as a third linebacker, sometimes lining up in the 4-3. This is why I think Williamson got the start, and why Craig Young moved over to the spot. Williamson had showed to be one of the best tacklers all season. Seeing him used in this role makes a lot of sense. Martinez is great in coverage, but his struggles tackling means that Williamson was a better fit for this game. He and Young played very well in this role, and I am curious to see exactly how they will implement this going forward. Is this just going to be for certain teams/packages, or are they hoping to make this their base defense?

Overall, the defense held up just fine, especially the starters. Last week, I mentioned the statistic that the College Football Nerds channel on YouTube likes to use. They recently put up a video where they showed Ohio State’s averages after six games, which a fellow 11W user posted here. They showed Ohio State at 92% of opponent’s average YPC allowed, and 92% of opponents YPA allowed.  This is slightly above average, which is around 95% for both. However, this also includes the Oregon and Minnesota games. For the Maryland game, they allowed 39% of Maryland’s average YPC, and 88% of Maryland’s average YPA. That’s not bad at all, especially considering the performance of the backups. The backups are still an issue though, because it implies that Ohio State is thin on defense. In particular, the backups really struggled tackling. The starters tackled fine. The backups were shockingly bad at tackling. Again, this is a practice/experience thing, so it can be remedied, but it needs to be fixed in case of injury. Ohio State can’t afford injuries right now.

Depending on Sean Clifford’s status, the next real test for this defense will either be Penn State or Michigan State. They shouldn’t have too much trouble with Indiana or Nebraska, but stranger things have happened.

Next week, I will go over the cumulative scores for the entire season, as well as a mid-season review. Thank you for reading.

This is a forum post from a site member. It does not represent the views of Eleven Warriors unless otherwise noted.

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