Bank Blog: Quick Thoughts Defense

Ohio State's dream season went up in flames last Saturday in a 34-24 loss to Michigan State. Where did things go wrong for Ohio State? What did the defense do well in the loss?

- First off, Ohio State was not ready to play Saturday night and they came out of the blocks playing terrible football. Was it a hangover from last week's emotional win over Michigan? Was it nerves at actually being in the driver's seat for the title game? To me, getting stuck 17-0 was the biggest factor in the loss. That's on Urban Meyer, and he HAS to have his team ready to go at the start of the biggest game of his tenure at Ohio State. Next in line would be Luke Fickell and Tom Herman. You CANNOT get put in a 17-0 hole in this game. Simply put. THAT CANNOT HAPPEN.

- Getting down 3-0 was no biggie, but the two penalties on third down kept drives alive and gave a rookie quarterback some confidence. The penalties for pass interference were not needed because both players had great position. Ryan Shazier's penalty was one that makes you just shake your head. I have no explanation for that play, and he needs to be better.

- Ohio State stopped Michigan State the next time the Spartans had the ball and things looked to be fine, but then they hit the deep ball over Corey Brown. I have no explanation for what happened on that play other than terrible football, but now Ohio State is down 10-0 and the offense is not moving. At this point, the defense needs a 3-and-out to keep things in reach.

- Down 10-0 and the Ohio State offense sputtering, Michigan State took over on their own 18 yard line. Great place to force a punt and give the OSU offense a short field. Instead, Cook hits a third down pass to keep the drive alive. Cook hits another pass. Then Cook goes over the top of C.J. Barnett for another score, and now you have a HUGE problem. Down 17-0 to a team this talented presents serious issues.

- At the end of the first half, Ohio State gets two quick stops and needs to basically throw a shutout the rest of the way. Is that possible with this defense? Is that too much to ask? As it turns out, it definitely was too much to ask.

- In the third quarter, Ohio State had two more stops that gave them four in a row and they were playing pretty good defensive football. Had they not been so awful early, and you could say this about the offense as well, this is a totally different game. End of the third, they give up a field goal and still have the lead.

- The drive to start the fourth quarter was basically the game. Michigan State took over on their own 10-yard line and drove 90 for a score. They threw the ball at will against an Ohio State defense that was gassed at this point and offered little resistance. Connor Cook was able to get comfortable and confident early in the game, and it paid off here. Ohio State expended so much energy, physically and emotionally, to get back into the game that the fourth quarter neither the offense or the defense had anything left.

- The game also showed that Ohio State is very close to being a championship team. Very close. But there are players out there that should not be starters at Ohio State on the defensive side of the football. No need to name names, but the back-seven is not championship quality right now. Either from lack of experience or lack of talent, this group is not good enough. Ryan Shazier is a great football player, but when he isn't playing absolutely great this unit is not much different than the other Big Ten teams. Bradley Roby and Doran Grant are pretty darn good corners, but when one of them goes off the field the dropoff is STUNNING. The safety play is not Ohio State quality.

- The defensive line played well Saturday night, but they did not dominate the game. They needed to dominate the game to make up for the back-seven. Conner Cook threw the football 40 times. He was sacked ONCE. That's not enough to win. He wasn't hit enough. He wasn't pressured enough. This group needed to TOTALLY control the line of scrimmage. They didn't. They allowed 300 passing yards and let Jeremy Langford run for 128 yards. It's not fair to place so much on one unit, but that's how average-to-below average the back seven is right now. Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennet were good. They needed to be GREAT.

- Joey Bosa was great, especially when Michigan State tried to block him with a tight end singled up on him. Massive fail. People always talk about defensive linemen using their hands, and I'm not sure folks always get that. Watch Bosa's play and don't watch his feet or torso at all. Watch what he does with his hands once the ball is snapped. It's violent and it instantly establishes control of the matchup he's in. He is a future All-American at Ohio State, and an NFL early-entry candidate.

- The entire defensive line returns next season and if there is competent play behind them in the back-seven, this group will be 10X better than they are now. Losing Shazier and Roby make it tough to be better, but replacing a few others with above average players will improve this unit dramatically. Doran Grant is fine and will only get better. The highly-rated defensive youngsters HAVE to be ready to step in. Names like Cam Burrows, Vonn Bell, Trey Johnson, Mike Mitchell, Gareon Conley, Eli Apple, and so forth, must be ready to take the field and play good football.

- I will be in the distinct minority, but I want this coaching staff to return intact. These guys are great recruiters, and I think they probably got what they could get out of their units this year. The talent they were forced to put on the field wasn't Ohio State quality. Losing Christian Bryant put another sub-par player on the field, as did the Roby suspension. The linebacker play has been a mess, but I'm holding out hope for Josh Perry to be much better next year. Next year would be the year I would make decisions on the coaching staff, and I think this defense will be pretty good and much improved over this year.


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