Bank Blog: Quick Thoughts Defense

Did Ohio State really give up 49 points to Indiana last weekend? Surely, that has to be a typo, right? Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened last weekend. The key question? WHY?

- First off, if you've been around these parts for a while, you know I think Urban Meyer is the best head coach in college football and have held that position for a long time. That has not changed one iota. For the Jim Tressel lovers, I respect you and JT, but respectfully disagree. For the Nick Saban admirers, cannot take a thing away from what Saban has accomplished, but he has a few coaching missteps, while Urban has zero. Saban was a disaster with the Dolphins, and MARK DANTONIO is more successful at Michigan State than Nick was. Chew on that nugget a minute before you put Saban on the throne of elite.

- That being established, I believe the defensive struggles rest solely with Meyer, and Meyer alone. When you look at the offense, and the key components: Meyer, Tom Herman and Ed Warriner, it's easy to see what a great mesh these three are. Head coach, offensive coordinator/quarterback coach, and offensive line coach working in perfect harmony. Is it perfect? Not even close. Can you see where this offense is headed? Do you understand the goal and thought process behind what they're doing? I can. It's an impressive vision.

- Was the offense broken at Ohio State when Meyer arrived? That question is so laughable, it's actually hard to write. The offense was a complete disaster, coached by men that held jobs they were not qualified to hold. We can all see that now very clearly. Anyone want Jim Bollman back? Should he fire Herman and try to lure Nick Siciliano from whatever he's doing today? Urban have a brother at the D-III level looking for work? Maybe move Stan Drayton back to wide receiver, a position he only coached one year: the dumpster-fire year of 2011 at Ohio State. Point being made is that this was a mess, and Urban recognized it and fixed it. Did he do the same on defense? Did he NEED to?

- People are saying that Luke Fickell is in way over his head, which could possibly be true, we don't know that yet. The same misinformed folks are saying that Jim Heacock is what's needed back at Ohio State, which is also misinformed as it can be. Who has Fickell learned from the past few years? What style would Fickell PREFER to run? Which style of defense do you think Fickell BELIEVES in? Which style of defense has had Ohio State ranked pretty darn highly the past decade? You tell me, because that IS NOT the style of defense Urban Meyer wants run at Ohio State.

- The Ohio State philosophy under Jim Tressel was 180-degrees opposite of Urban Meyer, which is not to say one is better than the other. There are more than a few ways to win in college football, as we see every week. BUT, the Tressel philosophy worked hand in hand, offense and defense in perfect harmony. We DO NOT see that today. Everett Withers is from the Heacock school, as is Fickell. BUT, Urban Meyer wants them to play defense HIS way, which is absolutely his right. Meyer wants cornerbacks to play man-to-man press coverage, not allowing a lot of room for the wide receivers to move. This puts a lot of pressure on guys like Christian Bryant, Orhian Johnson and C.J. Barnett to be more involved in coverage, and forces them to be sure tackles, because a miss equals a touchdown.

- The problem as I see it is the exact opposite of what you see on offense, and the coaching, scheme and players on the field are FAR more suited to play the Heacock style of defense. The Meyer style of defense DEPENDS, RELIES and LIVES off pressure coming from the Front-Four. This is the BIGGEST problem with this defense. The current defensive line members are all great run-stuffers, but they do not attack the passer relentlessly. Johnny Simon has his moments coming off the edge, but he would not have the Alabama or Florida staffs worried sick about protecting their quarterback from him. Not at all. Indiana threw FIFTY-FOUR passes the other night. How many times were they sacked? ZERO. NADA. ZIP. Go play man-to-man for 80 plays with players recruited to play in the Heacock zone-system, and get no sacks, then come back to me and tell me about your shutout!!!! Will NEVER, EVER happen.

- These players were all recruited to play in the Heacock system, were taught the Heacock system by the Heacock protege at defensive coordinator. A defensive line that gives up being a high-pressure group, but gives up NO running lanes at all. Linebackers that take deep drops and come up and make tackles in the zone. Heacock wouldn't ask Storm Klein to cover Shane Wynn. He would catch that five-yard pass and eight guys would come up out of the zone to kill him. Cornerbacks that play ten yards off the ball, with the two safetys splitting the field in deep zones. The star needs to be a player that is a sure tackler, and a physical hybrid. Tyler Moeller. Jermale Hines. Is that player Orhian Johnson? You tell me.

- Why is it that Ohio State's best game defensively came against one of the best teams they will play this year, Michigan State? Because that was a Tressel/Heacock/Fickell/Dantonio type of game, and we all saw that movie over the past decade. It's not that OSU CANNOT defend the spread at all. Heacock/Fickell saw plenty of spreads and decimated most of them. Ask Rich Rodriguez if Ohio State can defend a spread. BUT, they defended the spread THEIR way, not this way. Different philosophies.

- What is the answer? Can these guys play it "Meyer's Way", or do we go back and do it the "Heacock Way"? Great question, and I don't get to make that call. If they are going to go in the Meyer direction defensively, and I'm sure they will, can this staff be the group to do it? For me, I see no reason why not, and that may be why Urban is giving them the opportunity to recruit different players, learn a different way and teach a different style. We will find out soon after the Michigan game if I'm right on that. If three coaches leave the defensive staff, then I'm dead wrong.

- Urban Meyer is no dummy when it comes to coaching football. He hired Withers. He retained Mike Vrabel, and that was HIS choice. Then you have Luke Fickell. All I can add is that MEYER retained him, and anyone thinking he was FORCED to do so is ignorant. NOBODY forces Urban Meyer to do anything, certainly not Gene Smith. If Urban wanted to, the stadium would now be called Shelley's Field and the colors would be orange and green. Ohio State needed Urban Meyer. He did not need them. They COULD NOT force him to keep a coach he did not want. Ohio State couldn't hire a second-tier coach and dictate his coordinators, let alone URBAN FREAKING MEYER, and that thought is moronic. Now, would Urban admit Fickell was the wrong choice and make a change if he feels it's the right move? Without question. Without hesitation. Urban Meyer is going to win, and win HIS way. Feelings be damned. Of current players. Ex players. Ohio high school coaches. Media members. Doesn't matter. This is his SHOW and it will be run his way.

- After the long answer, what is the short answer? My thought is Meyer will be patient with both players and staff, and give both the chance to adapt to what he wants defensively. Could I be wrong? We will soon know.

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