Game Thoughts: OSU Defense

Ohio State came out on the short end of a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech Saturday night in Columbus. How did the Buckeye defense perform under new coordinator Chris Ash?

- Very encouraged by the STYLE of defense employed by new coordinator Chris Ash, and I think the style and scheme fit the talent perfectly. Were they great? Dominant? At times, they were both. But not consistently great or dominant.

- I like the blitzing, but wish the blitzers were better at it. In time, Raekwon McMillan, Dante Booker, Sam Hubbard and Kyle Berger will play this scheme to perfection.

- Love the press-man coverage, but Ohio State has very little experience playing this style and it's going to take time to make the adjustment. But the talent is there in the secondary, I'm fairly positive of that.

- Impressed with the defensive line, and these guys played their off all night long. Even more impressed when you realize the offense never ran the ball, never converted on third down, and barely gave the defense time to get a drink before rushing them back onto the field. This is a great position group, the strongest on the team. Joey Bosa is a wrecking ball, and the younger brother will step in when he leaves. Next week they add Noah Spence, which makes them even better.

The linebackers were decent, certainly good enough to win, but overall they need to be better for Ohio State to play the Ash defense correctly. Curtis Grant played his tail off, as did Josh Perry and Darron Lee, but I wouldn't say they reminded anyone of Laurinatis, Carpenter and Hawk. As stated previously, the four freshman will eventually make a difference, but the current starters are definitely serviceable.

The defensive backs were alright, but you could see they have no experience playing man. And last week's game was worthless in terms of preparation for real football. This was basically the opener for these defensive backs, and they were out there under a new coach, playing a new scheme, with a lot of new players. In my opinion, this is the right way for Ohio State to play pass defense. This unit will only get better week by week.

Props to the Virginia Tech offense, especially quarterback Michael Brewer and coordinator Scot Loeffler, who put his offense in great position all night long. The reverse late in the game was an amazing call, and Loeffler was on his game all night long. Brewer was accurate, smart, tough and played winning football most of the night. Props to those two for the jobs they did. Would love to see these teams rematch later in the year, because I have a feeling the result would be much different for the Ohio State defense against these two. I thought Ash was very good, but Loeffler was a touch better.

There were four touchdown drives for Virginia Tech on the night. Number-one was for 43 yards following a terrible Ohio State punt. The second was for 58 yards and was aided by the 15-yard penalty on Ron Tanner on the return. The third was a killer, coming in the last two minutes of the half, with Brewer throwing for every yard of a 61 yard drive. This made it 21-7 at the half. From this point on, the Buckeye defense only gave up the drive after the offense tied the score. They drove 65 yards, aided by a 15-yard penalty on third down. Definitely room for improvement, but the defense did not lose this game.

I believe there is much good that Ohio State can take away from this game on the defensive end. Had this scheme, under this coach, been instituted one year earlier, you probably would have seen Ohio State playing Florida State for the title last year. But you can't go back, and can only look forward, which I think is a positive look. People craved for Ohio State to get back to playing great defense again after last year, and I think this group is well on their way to doing that. They are only going to get better, and should be close to dominant by late in the year.

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