Fickell Displeased With Recent Effort On D

Each of Ohio State's last two defensive performances have not lived up to the standards of past Buckeyes defensive units. Though OSU has managed to win games over Indiana and Nebraska by outscoring the opposition, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell is simply displeased with the recent defensive efforts.

Luke Fickell probably felt once he was out of the spotlight of being Ohio State's head coach that the pressure – or at least a substantial portion of it – would subside. It didn't feel like it after the Buckeyes' narrow 52-49 win at Indiana on Saturday.

It's not that Fickell has heard or acknowledged the public's distaste for the way Ohio State's defense has performed in each of its past two wins, though he can imagine it on his own given the program's followers' reputation for expecting excellence.

And the first-year defensive coordinator is the first to admit he lays awake at night wondering how things can get better for his Buckeyes, even though the team has yet to lose through the first seven games of Urban Meyer's tenure as head coach.

"If you can put more pressure on me than I put on myself," Fickell said during a meeting with the media on Monday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "I don't how you could. "We could give up 14 points and for some reason I'm not going to sleep at night thinking, ‘Wow, what could we have done better?'

"The outside pressures – I don't feel it. If they're harder or stronger than what I put on myself, maybe I should go read about it."

Fickell offered the suggestion of reading the media if he needed an extra kick in the pants, but that's not likely to happen. After Fickell's defense allowed the Hoosiers' spread offense to score 49 points and rack up 481 yards of total offense in a closer-than-expected contest in Bloomington, Meyer will probably provide it.

An offensive minded coach that has led the resurgence of a Buckeyes offense that has put up more than 50 points in consecutive weeks, Meyer said in his weekly press conference that he is going to spend more time paying attention to the defensive side of the ball.

Meyer may not get involved in the tactical side of defensive coaching, but he said he felt a need to add an emphasis of his involvement in all facets of the game. That's the case after OSU's defense has allowed high point and yardage total in each of the past two games.

"I'm not happy at all with what's going on defense," Meyer said. "That includes players, coaches, and I think we can all get better. It's a team effort. We've got good coaches, good players and we'll move forward and get better."

Fickell is fine with Meyer's increased presence in the defensive meeting rooms, especially since Ohio State's head coach won't overstep his bounds. Meyer admitted it would be a mistake to get too involved in the work of Fickell and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers.

"I've not (spent a lot of time with the defense) very often," Meyer said. "I think my job is to support our staff, support our players. Calling defenses, I'll give my ideas, but once again, that would be a mistake for me to come in. We have very good coaches. I think (my involvement) is going to be one of leadership, toughness, and the four- to six-second demand that we have on this team, not just defense." ?

Ohio State has bounced back in a big way since Meyer took over as the Buckeyes head coach, as the team is off to a 7-0 start and has achieved a top 10 ranking. Meyer, however, doesn't plan on making how the Buckeyes won their last two games the norm.

While Ohio State has put up big offensive numbers behind quarterback Braxton Miller, the defense – hurt by a vast number of injuries, which in turn have caused depth issues – has been prone to allowing teams to move the ball with relative ease at times.

Fickell didn't shy away from criticism on the matter, admitting that there were times where he would have altered the way he called the defense.

"We've got to get better," Fickell said. "There's not a perfect defense, there's not a perfect call. And that's where we've got to make sure we are getting ourselves out of the idea that there's a perfect call. No, you have to put guys in a situation where they know what they need to do and they have the ability to go make plays."

While OSU's latest defensive performance against Indiana seems to stand out as a particularly bad showing, Fickell said he was already displeased before the Hoosiers tacked on 15 points late in the game.

"If we would have walked out of there after giving up 31, to be honest with you, I'd have had the same pit in my stomach," Fickell said. "We're never satisfied with what we've got, but we can't lose sight of the No. 1 most important thing is to win and get better.

"Is there a pit? Yes. Does it make it hard to sleep? Yes. But what do you do? You can whine, you can fold up your tent, start to complain or you can go back to work and find a way to get better."

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