Bank Blog: Quick Thoughts Defense

Coming on the heels of two poor performances, the Ohio State defense was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons against Purdue. Although there were moments that weren't pretty, the Buckeye defense came up big and bailed out a struggling offense to win 29-22 in overtime.

- After Purdue throws an 89-yard touchdown pass to start the game on a play Ohio State fans have seen way too much of, the Buckeye defense tightened the screws and came up with a game-saving performance. The Ohio State defense covered up for the offense not being able to solve the Purdue defense for 59 minutes, and won the game.

- Credit the defensive staff for keeping their cool, and coming up with the right adjustments at the right time. These guys know they're under the microscope, and The Opening touchdown could have put them on their heels, but they battled more injuries and saved the day.

- Without Etienne Sabino, the plan was to play Josh Perry and he got a ton of reps in practice this week. Then, Perry got hurt and that plan was out the window. They moved Nathan Williams to linebacker, and although he got caught out of position and cost them one time, the move was out of necessity. Zach Boren played really well, far better than last week against Indiana, and this move is looking more and more like a brilliant position switch.

- Whether because of injury, or out of desperation, Noah Spence got a lot of time today, and helped the pass rush tremendously. Combined with Williams, and there was no comparison to the Indiana quarterbacks having all day to throw. The pressure on the passer with the front-four, and not having to blitz much, was the key defensively to beating Purdue. They had Johnny Simon moved inside a lot, with Spence and Williams crashing off the edges, and that move was effective.

- They still had occasional problems with the wide receiver screen, and pass plays outside the numbers, but they kept passes short and came up and tackled better. I believe there were only two plays over 20 yards, and one came on the first play, which is a huge improvement over what has been happening lately.

- The defense came up big on third down, another problem the past few weeks, and they limited Purdue to 5 of 17 on the day. Add in the blocked field goal by Johnathan Hankins, and the Ryan Shazier tipped pass that C.J. Barnett picked off, and even though the offense had four turnovers, these two plays kept Ohio State alive.

- He wasn't perfect, but Ryan Shazier played smarter football, and stayed under control for the most part. He made a lot of plays in space, where a missed tackle would have been big yardage, as we've seen the past few weeks.

- It's amazing how much better Bradley Roby and Travis Howard looked in coverage, and pressure up front makes their jobs so much easier. When they're in man-to-man coverage and there is zero pass rush, their jobs are impossible and they will eventually lose contain. A strong pass rush is the key to this defense, especially if it occurs only rushing four and dropping seven.

- Most importantly, Ohio State's defense dominated the fourth quarter and overtime. In the first two possessions of the fourth quarter, the defense forced punts when they absolutely could not give up even a field goal. On the third possession, they forced a three-and-out, when a first down would have given Purdue the win. The overtime possession was more domination, as Purdue went nowhere in five plays, locking up the win.

- For a unit not playing with a lot of confidence the past weeks, the hope is that the lift from this win propels them to even greater heights. Without any inside info at all, and just going off looks alone, it's probably safe to assume Ohio State will not have Braxton Miller next week. That puts even more pressure on the defense, who will need to come up big again for Ohio State to remain undefeated. It will be interesting to see if they can meet the next challenge, but today's effort was a good one from an effort and scheme perspective.

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