As we all know, the Ohio State defense is struggling. Four-hundred yards per game type of struggling. Is there anyone out there who looks at this team, despite their success, and says, “Now that’s a Buckeye football team.” Somewhere in the development of the Braxton-Miller-high-powered-spread-offense, the defense got left out of the equation. At first it was missed tackles. Lately it has turned into missed defense.
The good news is that although Etinne Sabino is still out with injury, Nathan Williams is expected to return along with Travis Howard who missed a large part of the Indiana game due to neck pain and should be back to full strength Saturday. The concern is that the defense you saw against Indiana is pretty much the future of the Buckeye defense. Howard, Sabino, Williams, Big Hank and Storm Klein all graduate this year. Development now is key to the future of this Ohio State defense.
Against Purdue, Do We Even Need Defense?
Ohio State’s biggest defensive woes have come against the spread. Purdue runs a spread offense–if you can call it that. Although they started off looking good and gave Notre Dame a scare, they’ve put up less than 500 yards on only three touchdowns in their first two Big Ten games. On the ground they’ve been held to 184 yards in the B1G.
But it’s not the lack of offensive production from Purdue that builds hope for Saturday’s meeting with the Buckeyes, it’s their inability to stop the run. Wisconsin put up a total 647 yards on offense, 467 on the ground. Montee Ball completely decimated the Purdue defense rushing for 247 yards. James White added another 124 yards. Denard Robinson did the same running for 235 yards against the Boilermakers.
Against the Ohio State offense we have seen the past couple of weeks, even if the defense falls apart the Buckeyes are going to put up points–big points.
As much as it pains me to say it, could this be a Big Ten shootout? Like the game against Indiana, let Purdue score, the Buckeyes will just get the ball back and add more points to the board.
O.K. So I may be getting a bit carried away. Given Purdue’s offensive struggles of late, may will provide a good opportunity for the Buckeyes to fix the problems on defense and build confidence before heading to Penn State next weekend. Urban Meyer issued the warning last Sunday when he directly addressed the defense. If we don’t see a turn come Saturday, I’m very worried about the second half of the season–especially when we meet Wisconsin and dare I say it…Michigan.
You can only live by the offense for so long. You can only run the score so high. Without a strong defense to balance this team, the Buckeyes will hit their limits fast.
Buckeye fans have been quick to place blame at the feet of Coach Fickell but it is important to remember that Fickell is “co” defensive coordinator (quick, name the other defensive coordinator). Although it’s easy to go after Coach Fickell, I’m not sure that will solve the problem. In a co-defensive coordinator situation, who is calling the shots and who will get the credit if and when this team improves?
Former defensive coordinator Jim Heacock was quick to find the door after Urban Meyer came on board. Under Heacock, the Buckeyes knew how to play defense. Fickell got his training under Heacock and call it extreme Buckeye loyalty, I’m not ready to give up on the Fickell/Vrabel show just yet. I would like to hear more from Everett Withers (that’s his name) and his plan for fixing this defense. So far, about the only thing I can remember from Withers is his cursing at the media saying that he didn’t care about the yardage UAB gained against his defense, it was the 15 points he considered good.
The over under is at 62 with the Buckeye O/U at 40.5. Although I’m hoping that the Buckeyes can keep Purdue under 20 points, I’m not sure it’s a safe bet. The Buckeyes for 40 points? Yep. I hate to say I’m counting on it.