Bank Blog: Quick Thoughts Defense

Ohio State continued their undefeated season Saturday evening, by narrowly defeating Northwestern 40-30 in a game far closer than the score indicates. How did the defense perform?

- I'm getting to the point where I'm not real sure how to evaluate the defensive side of the football anymore, and maybe it's time to accept we are living in the offensive era of college football and accept it. The new rules have eliminated offensive holding and it has opened up the game, along with the pass interference no-calls. It would be hard to say Ohio State played well Saturday night against Northwestern by any standards.

- There's a reason Nick Saban is against the fast-paced offenses and he is the Godfather of defensive football. He could be worried about player safety, but I'm doubting that is the reason. Alabama is the gold standard of defensive football, but I watched Georgia rip through the Tide last year in the SEC championship game. Nearly 400 yards of offense and a missed touchdown pass away from 35 points on the board and a last minute collapse. Johnny Football danced all over the Sabans last year and we all thought there would be serious revenge this season. Try 628 yards and 42 points. Now Ohio State is eons away from Alabama defensively, but this side of the football is tough to evaluate in today's game.

- After the game, Urban Meyer said he was proud of his defense for keeping Ohio State in the game in the first half, but thought they let down in the second half. I would agree with that, but Northwestern only scored ten points in the second half, while scoring 20 in the first half. The late score to give up the lead in the fourth quarter ruined what could have been a pretty sweet defensive effort.

- In the first half, with Meyer and the offense doing all they could to hand Northwestern the ball game, it was Luke Fickell and the defense that kept the score reasonable. Had they not forced field goals and allowed touchdowns when the Wildcats were in point blank range, Ohio State would have lost. At 20-10, they were in range at the half. Had it been 28-10, Ohio State would have one loss on Sunday morning.

- I still don't think Bradley Roby is playing anywhere near as well as he played last year, and it sure seems like teams are going after him. Last year, it sure looked like they stayed away. His tackling was excellent last year, but certainly not the case this season. I could be dead wrong on him, but I think an All-American needs to play better.

- I love the defensive line effort, and they are very young and very thin along the front. Joey Bosa is going to be a handful for the next few years, and Michael Bennett is fun to watch. I think Noah Spence can play better, but he is playing well. Chris Carter needs to be mentioned, not because he's a great player, but because he is a solid contributor. I would have never thought we would see that day, but it's reality. They need Tommy Schutt back in the rotation.

- Ryan Shazier still over-runs way too many plays, but he is a missile out there and makes a ton of plays. Curtis Grant and Josh Perry are two guys that need to play better.

- The secondary is very inexperienced after Roby and C.J. Barnett, and Doran Grant has had mostly positive moments. His interception was huge, but losing his man on the touchdown throw in the fourth quarter was a head-scratcher for sure. Christian Bryant was sorely missed and will be missed the rest of the season.

- Is this a defense can win a championship? That is a great question and we have to see if it gets answered down the road. Do I think the offense can drive the length of the field with two minutes left in the game and score a game-winning touchdown? Yes, I do. Do I think this defense can stop an opponent from driving 80-yards in the final minutes to prevent a game-winning score? Not real sure about that.

- Is the difference between offense and defense strictly youth and inexperience? Who on offense hasn't been there, done that, for multiple games? Maybe Taylor Decker. Who on defense HAS been out there for big plays, in big games for a few years now? Only Roby, Barnett and Shazier. Can they get better with more game experience? Will they? Stay tuned.


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