Although Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had a number of good things to say at Monday’s press conference about the Buckeyes’ performance against Cal, he definitely had his criticism for the defense. On the plus side, he pointed out that Cal took the ball past the Ohio State 40 five times and didn’t score. Granted, Cal’s missed field goals were a big help but we’ll take it where we can. He also pointed out that 40 percent of Cal’s offensive yards came on six plays. As we all know, those were six very painful plays filled with missed tackles and blown coverage.
But when asked about giving up 13 plays of 20 yards or more in the first three games he said,
“I can’t remember Ohio State defense. I’ve watched them for a long time, and I can’t remember the defense I’ve been around that’s given up this many. We’ve got to stop or we’ll lose the game.”
And although the the Bollman-like play calling can be directly attributed to Meyer (earlier in the press conference he said he is “knee deep” in special teams and offense the comment does put the defensive coaching in the hot seat. So we turn to Coach Fickell’s Monday comments for answers and to be frank, he doesn’t seem to have many.
Fickell said that improving the defense come’s down to two things–forcing them to move the ball from east to west and leverage. Fickell explained that “leverage” means that no matter where they are on the field, all 11 players keep the ball inside and directly in front of them.
What an amazing clean and basic concept. Keep the ball to in front of you, keep the ball to the inside and the game is yours. Let the ball get behind you, let them get to the side and you’re in trouble. If you’ve got leverage, the play moves east to west, not downfield. There is nowhere else to go. Seems simple enough.
Problem is, the Buckeyes have been failing to find the much needed leverage that Ohio State defenses are known to possess. Today is “Bloody Tuesday” and I’m sure the defense will have a long day. I’m a big fan of coach Fickell but this will be a true test. The problems are glaring. Can he fix them come Saturday.
Where’s the Braxton Scramble?
Apparently I’m not the only one to notice that there were a few plays where it looked like Braxton Miller should have just taken off down field but choose to throw it away. The question came up at Monday’s press conference:
Q. Is there an option though for the quarterback when he sees them vacating the area?
COACH MEYER: To run it?
COACH MEYER: We haven’t given them that. That’s a good thought. Happens really fast. So right now we’re telling them to throw it away.
Seems like a good thought to me. Maybe we’re just used to seeing Terelle Pryor break free on those opportunities. Something tells me it’s an ability Miller will develop and when the time comes, he will get the chance.
If the UAB offensive line coach looks familiar that’s because he does. John Peterson was one of the Ohio State coaches let go in the Urban Meyer change over. Along with serving as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator under Coach Tressel, he played under Meyer when Meyer was a Buckeye assistant coach in 1987. Peterson played at Ohio State from 1987-1990.
Both Meyer and Fickell talked briefly about Peterson’s return in their Monday presser.