Purdue Provides Opportunity to Repair Ailing Buckeye Defense

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.

Blaming Fickell
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.


  1. Ed (Flabuckeye) says

    Hi Ann,

    Great read. I am visiting for first time ,from BBC site.

    I lay our woes at all the coaches on the D side. Especially Fickle, even though Withers is assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator these are players Fickle knows in and out or should. And they should be giving 110% for him on EVERY play. Is Fickle a coach/buddy with these guys, is he respected? I say that because kids will be kids, I have a 7 yr old daughter…….you give her alittle latitude and let things slid on responsibilites …..kids will take advantage of you…….its thier age. As for some of these players on defense, they are apparently taking plays off ( according to Bradley Roby) they are getting too comfy with Braxton pulling all the weight. And thier mindset, and play is catching up and is being exposed. In a way its kind of insulting to coach Fickle by thier play this yr. He should be pissed.

    Is this fixable, absolutely. Urban started that by addressing the defense and putting them on notice this week and showing up to defensive meetings unannounced is putting coaches on notice as well………thats Urbans job. We have the talent, its a matter of the light going on in these kids heads that past accomplishments with this program doesn’t carry on to year to year because you put on the uniform. You go out and make things happen, and if you don’t then you get replaced.

    Remember, what conference Urban is coming from………..mediocre is not an option.

    Again, great read

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Ed. What an emotional role roaster that was. Yeah, they won but other than the last two min or so, what a mess. I probably won’t get my post game post up until later tonight. I need to let this all soak in for a bit.

      • Ed (Flabuckeye) says

        no worries Jim…….just glad we won. I have Direct TV, this game was suppose to be on ESPN2. But on my guide it showed it on an alterante ESPN channel. Local ABC had Va. tech/ Clemson …..and ESPN 2 also had same game. I called Direct TV to see what was up, they told me I should have gotten the game. Now some buddies of mine from work called me from Naples,Fla. 25-30 mins south of me……..they had the game. Frustrating none the less……especially seeing everyones posts on the Live Blog today. But during overtime…..waalaaa….the game majically appears on the channel it was suppose to be on……..so I saw the OT session.

        Urban has work to do. And these are the times to address it……….

        I would start by putting Adam Sandler on notice………

  2. gulfportcarl says

    You can blame the defence for the high score’s, but somwhere in the mix you have to give credit to our opponents offense, just saying. Urban is right in saying YOU CAN ONLY LIVE ON YOUR OFFENSE FOR SO LONG. We have alot of youth on defence, and some of the more experienced players were watching from the sideline, with that being said Purdue has humbled even Jim Heacocks defence the last two years. Every team seems get up for the Buckeye’s, so I will wait and see, and hope for the best.

      • Alan (Previously Known as Not Alan and Previously Alan) says

        TPB-that was an intentional funny to see if anyone would catch it. You’ve got to realize I’ve spent my entire life post graduation in the medical field.