While Ohio State's Offense is Going at a Record-Setting Pace, the Defense Might Be Flying Under the Radar

By Tim Shoemaker on October 23, 2014 at 8:35 am
Ohio State's defensive improvement may be overlooked.

Over the course of the last four games, to say Ohio State's offense is firing on all cylinders might be the understatement of the year.

The 13th-ranked Buckeyes have racked up over 500 yards of offense in four straight games to tie a school record and they've scored over 50 points in each game during that span for the first time in the history of the program. The averages have equated to 56 points and 614 yards per game.

With numbers like those, you certainly won't hear any complaints from Ohio State's defense.

"That's good," cornerback Doran Grant said with a smile after Wednesday's practice. "I like when they do that."

But while the offense has been about as good as it can be since the Buckeyes' Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech, it really hasn't needed to be because the defense has been much-improved.

Surrendering just over 17 points per game in that four-game stretch, Ohio State has been far from lights out on the defensive side of the ball. But it has looked better since that loss to the Hokies and has certainly been more impressive than it was most of last year where it struggled so much to defend the pass.

The pass defense hasn't been perfect, either — there were several breakdowns in the secondary against Cincinnati — but it has certainly improved. Ohio State currently ranks second in the Big Ten allowing 181.7 yards per game through the air.

"You can challenge everything," Grant said of the secondary. "You can challenge every throw, you can challenge the run so you have a chance to win every play."

That aggressiveness Grant was referring to is a result of co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash's new scheme he brought to Columbus with him from Arkansas. It allows Ohio State to play a more in-your-face style, something that is a little different from the previous few seasons.

“We wanna be aggressive and we want to get back to the Silver Bullets that we’ve been in the past," junior linebacker Joshua Perry said. "We got away from that in the past couple of seasons but we said at the beginning of the year that we wanna be aggressive, we wanna challenge everything, we wanna get after guys, we wanna see improvement from game to game, we wanna be able to take care of each other so I think we’ve done a good job of that this season.”

Any coach will tell you they just want to see improvement from week to week in their team. With Ohio State's defense this year, you can actually see that. Last year, that wasn't exactly the case."

“I think we’re improving on more things faster this year than we did last year," Grant said. "I think that’s the difference."

The improvement in the defense is a big reason why Ohio State has a shot to improve to 6-1 on the year if it can defeat Penn State Saturday, moving it one game closer to a Nov. 8 showdown with Michigan State in East Lansing. 

Odds are the Buckeyes' offense will continue to score points for the rest of the year. If the defense can hold up, it could mean trouble for the rest of their opponents.

"All we’re gonna do is week in and week out just continue to do our job and let the offense do theirs," Grant said.

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