Mike checks back in with part two of his post-spring look at the Ohio State football team, getting defensive this time:
When asked to write about the Silver Bullets, I cannot express to you the level of excitement and overall outlook for our beloved Buckeyes that got me pumped for the passing of summer. This will be an improved and potentially dominating defense that will make us proud as fans.
As far as I am concerned it started with the addition of Chris Ash (DC) and Larry Johnson (DL). These coaches are difference makers at practice, game time and recruiting. The impact is already present as witnessed by over 61,000 Buckeye Fans at the Spring Game.
The scheme employed by Ash will be simple, yet aggressive in the back end of the defense. He will allow the players to use their instincts and athletic ability to make plays on a consistent basis. This will mean more press coverage and much less of the “Bend Don’t Break” mentality we have witnessed in the past.
With that being said I would like to highlight a few players that stand out to me in the secondary heading into fall:
I am very confident in our young players and Coach Ash’s ability to scheme and motivate. Once healthy, this unit is going to wreak havoc on opposing offenses in the passing game as well as run support. We will be a young secondary from day one but very solid and a group that will improve vastly as the season progresses.
The Linebacker group is the most concerning to me as a whole. Read More
As the Buckeyes roll down the stretch and most of America believes they ave the easiest path to go undefeated, the rest believes they wont be in the title game because of the ease of that schedule. The fact still remains that all this team needs to do is win and not pay any attention to those people. They have an opportunity to enjoy back-to-back undefeated seasons and set several other records along the way. Let’s get started with the good and Rumblin from last week.
There can be only one. In spite of the desire to spread the wealth by all who are not coaches on that staff, there can be only one football. No matter how you draw it up, script it, or even second guess the results? This team is led by Carlos Hyde this season. So far we have seen three teams attempt to stop him and only one slowed him. The last two have failed miserably and I can tell you that Mr. Hyde is playing his best football right now. Read More
This week, Ohio State faces a Purdue coach that’s undefeated* against them, and seeks to rebound from a horrible defensive showing at Indiana. So, yeah- our soundtrack is something that should be harped on, even if it seems a little paranoid.
On Saturday, Ohio State will do something it has not done yet in the 2012 season–play a game away from Ohio Stadium.
The No. 14 Buckeyes will travel to East Lansing for a date with the No. 20 Michigan State Spartans and if OSU plays like it has in its previous three games, the Buckeyes will be coming back to Columbus with a 4-1 record.
Before the season, when most looked at this game on the schedule, it was more than likely viewed as a defensive struggle. But, the Buckeyes find themselves in unfamiliar territory this season as they rank dead last in the Big Ten in total defense–allowing 394.8 yards per game.
On the other hand, Michigan State’s defense allows just 233.5 yards and 11.8 points per game–both good for No. 1 in the conference. Sparty also has the No. 1 rushing defense in the conference (69.2 ypg).
OSU averages 229.2 yards per game on the ground, so something must give.
If the Buckeyes want a win on Saturday, they must do it with their defense.
Basically, this means 11 sets of eyes must be on Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell at all times. Bell, the conference’s leading rusher at 152.5 ypg, is a workhorse runner who is often called upon to carry the team.
Those missed tackles we have been seeing by Ohio State cannot happen on Saturday. Not if the Buckeyes want to win. They must hit Bell early and gang tackle him. But they simply cannot miss tackles.
Bell will no doubt have some added motivation, too. A native of Columbus, Bell wasn’t heavily recruited by Ohio State as the Buckeyes landed running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith in the same class. And it is never a good thing when the conference’s best back has any extra motivation.
Last year, the Buckeyes were almost shut out at home by the Spartans. An Evan Spencer touchdown with ten seconds left saved that embarrassment for the Buckeyes, but OSU still fell 10-7.
Under Urban Meyer, though, expect the Buckeyes to put up more than seven points. It’s limiting the Spartans to just ten that will be the main concern.
We know Michigan State’s defense will show up on Saturday. Will Ohio State’s?
If it does not, the Buckeyes will be in for a long trip back to Columbus and Meyer will have experienced his first loss as Ohio State’s head coach.
As you may know, Ohio State was nice enough to release a post spring practice two-deep for us to over-analyze during the long summer months as we anxiously await the beginning of fall camp.
Although I like to look at the depth chart every summer (hey, it’s something to do), this year has added significance thanks to a change in philosophy from the coaching staff.
The change can be summed up as “spring practice is for setting the depth chart, fall practice is for preparing to win football games” and it comes straight from Coach Meyer.
It is not quite that simple, obviously.
Non-enrolled incoming freshmen haven’t had a chance to weigh in on the chart yet. At least a few of them are likely to make an impact before the first game kicks off.
Although the focus will be on preparing to win games in the fall, putting your best players on the field is one of the better ways to do that. For the players not making the list in the spring for whatever reason, there is still an opportunity to move up if they can prove they belong on the field.
With those factors in mind, here is a look at the two-deep on defense, with grades for each position group at the end (skip there for the cliff notes).
I also like to throw RS freshman Connor Crowell into that group since a leg injury prevented him from practicing last year as a part of the 2011 class.
Despite the quality freshmen group, there are still concerns moving forward- particularly with experienced depth.
Once seniors Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein graduate after this season, rising juniors Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant will be the only scholarship linebackers left on the team with any meaningful experience- outside of whatever the group of freshmen gain in their first year.
This is largely due to the early and unplanned departures of players like Dorian Bell (transfer), Jonathan Newsome (transfer), Jordan Whiting (transfer), Scott McVey (medical hardship) and Ejuan Price (never enrolled).
Thanks to these departures, the 2012 class (plus Crowell) will be thrown into the fire immediately.
Based on history and the laws of probability, some youngsters will become stars and make an instant impact, some will be solid contributors, and some may not be with the program within a few years.
What does it all mean? Well, that was basically just a long way of saying that the search for talent at linebacker continues in the 2013 class and depth is still a concern that needs to be addressed.
Right now, it looks like the Buckeyes will take around 3 linebackers in 2013. None are currently committed.
Here is a look at the top prospects on the board.
Ohio State’s defense has been one of the most consistently excellent units in college football over the last decade.
Sadly, the 2011 season was a major bump in the road for the defense and the team. Needless to say, the Silver Bullets will be looking to get back on track in Urban Meyer’s first year as head coach.
There are some new faces on the defensive coaching staff to help out in that regard, but some familiar ones as well.
Luke Fickell is the primary holdover from the previous staff. He was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach under Tressel. He will basically be assuming the same roll under Meyer- with perhaps a bit more emphasis on being the primary coordinator.
The best case scenario will be if Fickell can continue to implement the defensive system that has worked so well over the past decade and combine that with some fresh ideas from the new staff to take the defense to an even higher level of excellence.
The talent is in place to do that this season, but depth is a major concern everywhere outside of the trenches. Additionally, the transition to new position coaches could create some unexpected problems in the first year.
Here is a look at some of the things to watch for at each position as the spring game approaches and the depth chart is sorted out.
This comes as little surprise to fans who have followed Woodard’s recruitment. He has been a huge Buckeye lean for at least the past year, and probably a lot longer (see picture to the right).
At 6’1″ 185 (ignore picture to the right), Woodard possesses ideal size for a corner, and the way he hits is extremely reminiscent of a certain other New Jersey recruit that fans may be familiar with.
That player was Malcolm Jenkins, and you have to imagine watching Jenkins play in the Horseshoe had an influence on Woodard as he was coming up through the ranks.
The comparisons are inevitable given the common stature, home state and playing style.
With what Woodard has already shown on the field in high school (see highlights below), hopefully the comparison with Jenkins will prove to be spot on in the coming years in Columbus.
Rivals and Scout both rate him as a four star player, with Rivals ranking him as the 28th best overall player in the country. Read More