Despite Struggles in the Passing Game, Ohio State's Defense Spending "Every Waking Moment" on Army's Offense

By James Grega on September 11, 2017 at 4:30 pm
Kendall Sheffield

Ohio State lost three defensive backs to the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. Through the first two games of this season, it's showing. 

The Buckeyes rank 130 out of 130 teams in passing yards allowed (403 yards per game) after two games. With Army coming to town on Saturday, however, there isn't much time to work out the issues in the secondary. 

The Black Knights run a triple-option offense, and Urban Meyer said Monday that despite the struggles in the defensive backfield, the Buckeyes will have to spend "every waking moment" preparing to slow down Army's running attack. 

"Coach (Greg) Schiano has coached against wishbone teams. I have, too. And it's a unique week," Meyer said. "We met. We watched (the Oklahoma loss). We met with the players and then it was right – even last night – right on to Army. You need to spend every waking moment from here until the foot hits the ball to prepare against the wishbone."

Meyer has prepared to play the service academies before, all of which run some form of the triple-option offense. While Meyer was an assistant coach at Notre Dame from 1996-2000, the Irish played Navy every year in addition to matchups against Air Force and Army. 

While at Ohio State, Meyer coached against Navy in the season opener of the 2014 season, a game the Buckeyes won 34-17 despite allowing 370 yards on the ground. 

Speaking of Navy, the Black Knights defeated the Midshipmen for the first time in 15 years last season, a win that was not lost on Meyer. 

"Army, very unique issues you deal with. They are very good on offense. Second in the country, I believe, rushing. The wishbone creates its own identity of issues and unique issues," Meyer said. "And then on defense, like some of the service academies I've coached against before, they're 3-4, all over the place and play extremely hard and a very good team. They beat Navy last year."

The Black Knights have completed just two passes all season (only one for positive yardage), yet boast a 2-0 record with wins over Fordham and Buffalo. 

While the Buckeyes likely won't be tested through the air against Army, Meyer did not rule out the possibility of changing defensive schemes moving forward. Ohio State has played primarily man-to-man coverage since 2014, but has allowed 806 passing yards in just two games in 2017. 

"We developed two first-round corners, so we continue. And that's constant conversation. Can they do what we've done in the past? And it's early in the season," Meyer said. "We've still got a lot of football left and that's what's going on right now."

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