Category Archives: Strategy

The Best Is Yet To Come

The future is bright for Ohio State, but how long will it take to get here?

That’s the question in my weekly football column for BuckeyeSports.com.

Marshall

So far we have seen a young team flummoxed by a unique scheme look bad one night this season but bounce back with three straight wins over opponents that were overmatched to varying degrees.

There was a lot to like about the win in Maryland, including growth into the scheme on both sides of the ball.

Click here for more: Cus Words: The Best Is Yet To Come – Ohiostate – Scout.

Ohio State suffering a power outage?

For all the talk about the added speed on this Ohio State roster, a power outage may be more to blame for the loss to Virginia Tech.

After finishing my video review Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech, I filed my usual report with BuckeyeSports.com. The conclusion was that Virginia Tech had a good plan considering all the factors going into the game, both from their personnel standpoint and Ohio State’s. For the Hokies, that relates to speed. For the Buckeyes, it is youth.

As Urban Meyer said this week, the defense Virginia Tech used has been used against them before but not regularly and not since his first year at Ohio State. One thing about the spread” It’s supposed to prevent teams from loading up the line of scrimmage against you. I guess when they scout you and decide to do it anyway, that should probably be a sign of a pretty big problem.

Meyer prides himself on still playing power football despite the formation, but there are times I wonder if he and offensive coordinator Tom Herman are a little bit too rigid in their philosophy as far as how they line up. This shouldn’t be taken to mean I have major overall questions with what they do, it’s obviously a pretty effective most of the time, but I do wonder if they have limited themselves more than they need to.   Continue reading

Ohio State Football Week 2 in review

The blog has been quiet this week, but I have been busy. Here’s a rundown of coverage following Ohio State’s season-opening win over Navy and in preparation for the Buckeyes’ visit from Virginia Tech.  Continue reading

Buckeye defense hoping for 1996 redux

On the second day of Ohio State’s 2014 preseason football camp, Luke Fickell said this was the first offseason since he returned to his alma mater as a coach in 2002 that there was reason to feel bad about how the defense had finished the season.

That got me thinking about another season that ended with national title hopes going up in smoke in large part because of a defensive letdown — 1995.  Fickell practice headshot

Now the Ohio State defensive coordinator, Fickell was a junior in this third year as the starting nose guard for the Buckeyes that season, and Ohio State rose to No. 2 in the national polls in November, the highest ranking for the program in over a decade.

Most of that success was on the back of a national top 10 offense that featured the best running back (Eddie George), wide receiver (Terry Glenn) and offensive lineman (Orlando Pace) in the country as well as first-team All-Big Ten players at quarterback (Bobby Hoying) and tight end (Rickey Dudley).

The Ohio State defense boasted All-Big Ten players at defensive end (Mike Vrabel and Matt Finkes) and cornerback (Shawn Springs) and finished 12th in the nation in points allowed (16.7 per game), but it wasn’t on the same level as the scoring unit. That much was proven on the final day of the regular season as the Buckeyes traveled to Ann Arbor and saw their perfect season ruined by 12th-ranked Michigan, which got a record 313 yards rushing from Tim Biakabutuka en route to a 31-23 upset. Continue reading

Ohio’s latest football export to the north? Michigan State’s defense

Most avid fans of Ohio State football know Michigan football has long made a living off talent from the Buckeye State. Mark Dantonio has taken up the practice at Michigan State over the past seven years, too, but that’s not all.

Turns out the Spartans’ defensive strategy is a direct import from Ohio as well.

Dantonio, of course, first became well known nationally when the defense he coordinated at Ohio State was an integral part of the Buckeyes’ 2002 national championship season. Dantonio, a Zanesville native who was brought to Columbus by Jim Tressel in 2001, moved the Buckeyes from the imposing, press defense installed by Fred Pagac Sr. in the late 1990s to a scheme built around more zone concepts, though pressuring the quarterback was a key for both men.
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Ohio State safeties embracing new roles

Even before the defense hit rock bottom last season, many Ohio State fans were clamoring for a return to the press defenses of the late 1990s that were the first to earn the nickname, “Silver Bullets.”

Such a switch is easier said than done, however, in this day and age of spread offenses that were much more rare back then and not as diverse as they are now.  Continue reading

Ohio State spring football reactions: Defense

So what to make of spring football at Ohio State for 2014? Is it possible to come away feeling good about the defense without also questioning the offense? I’m going to start off by saying yes, but I can’t promise not to change my mind.

The OSU secondary appears to have taken to the new, more aggressive approach brought by co-coordinator Chris Ash. Of course, we had not really gotten to see Gareon Conley or Eli Apple in action much before this spring, but veterans Doran Grant and Armani Reeves seemed to thrive in the new attack as well. All of them certainly seemed comfortable, even from the first day reporters were allowed to watch practice. They got right in the faces of the OSU receivers in position drills, seven-on-seven and scrimmaging. We saw a fair amount of coverage busts — especially involving the tight ends deep — on that first day, but those appeared to dissipate as the spring went on. Continue reading

Cus Words: Day 1 Ohio State spring football observations

Defensive backs were the main eye-catchers on the first day of Ohio State football spring practice for 2014.

We have heard all about what effect new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash will have on a secondary that was the second-worst in Ohio State history last season, and it was on display yesterday as the Buckeyes worked out sans pads.

Scout.com: Cus Words: Day One Observations.

New Buckeye defensive staff’s success could come down to matter of trust

So Ohio State finally confirmed the hiring of Chris Ash as safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator. Along with new defensive line coach and assistant head coach Larry Johnson, Ash completes Urban Meyer’s staff for 2014.

Now what?

After the two get off the road from recruiting, they will find a defense left in shambles at the end of last season, the last of three years of regression that followed a decade of stellar play.

Ohio State lines up against Indiana last November
Ohio State lines up against Indiana last November

Johnson has a reputation as an outstanding position coach, and he will find a group that performed well in a trial by fire this past season. The stout, fundamentally tough play he taught at Penn State could blend very nicely with the aggressive style outgoing coach Mike Vrabel instilled in the group.

Ash’s job figures to be much tougher, though he will have a nearly clean slate when he and holdover Kerry Coombs work to rebuild a secondary that gave up 268.0 yards per game last season, almost 25 more than a year earlier.  Continue reading