Bank Blog: Week-Three Defense

Ohio State slipped by Northern Illinois 20-13 Saturday afternoon in a game dominated by both defenses. What did the Chris Ash-led unit do well on the day?

- First off, this game was a loss for Ohio State under Urban Meyer in the first two seasons of his tenure at Ohio State, or putting it bluntly, before Chris Ash arrived to run the defense. Ash saved their bacon yesterday, putting it even more bluntly. Would you like to replay that game yesterday with Everett Withers/Luke Fickell calling the defense? Didn't think so.

- To put the game in the proper context, understand that Northern Illinois is an OFFENSIVE TEAM, not a defensive team. To hold that group to 110 yards rushing and less than 100 passing is remarkable, MAC team or not. Northern Illinois is going to score a lot of points this season. They would not have scored a touchdown yesterday without the gift from Cardale Jones.

- There was also the shutout last week against Hawaii, and they blanked Virginia Tech for all but one quarter of the opener. This is a championship defense, and I'm not sure there's a better one in the country. This defense saved Ohio State from possibly the worst loss ever by a team ranked number-one in the country.

- I wanted to scream listening to Ed Cunningham and Mike Patrick continuously praise the Northern Illinois offense throughout the game yesterday, especially when that offense was getting destroyed all day long by the Ohio State defense. Had that offense done anything at all, they would have left The Shoe with a "W". The Ohio State QB's caused FAR more problems for the Ohio State defense than Drew Hare could have hoped to.

- Just as it does with the offense, EVERYTHING starts up front with this unit. Joey Bosa is a given, and he demands a lot of blocking schemes, but guys like Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard are playing great. Fans like to bang on Tommy Schutt, but he does his job effectively, freeing up Adolphus Washington to wreak havoc. Joel Hale also contributed Saturday, but Washington had his best overall game since coming to Ohio State. And they needed him to. This group basically owned the line of scrimmage.

- Darron Lee did it again, as he has so many times in his short career, and his pick-six won the game. He does so much out there, combining great athleticism with a very high football IQ. Josh Perry was also pretty amazing, and he is a player that continues to get better even though he has played a lot of football. Raekwon McMillan was active, and he covers a ton of ground out there. Are their capable backups in case of injury? That would be the only question regarding this group, and we do not know that answer.

- Gareon Conley also continues to play really well, both his tackling and in coverage. He's been better than I thought he would be this year so far. Vonn Bell had a big game, as did Tyvis Powell, so that back end is in good hands. Eli Apple is headed to the NFL I believe, and his play shows that's probably the right decision to make. Much like the linebacking group, we don't know if there are capable replacements should injuries occur, but the starting group is more than solid and better than last year.

- You can win national titles with a great defense, as long as the offense doesn't turn the ball over and any reasonable person would have to think Ohio State will get their offensive issues solved in time. The defense is WAY better than they were last year, and this unit can carry this team until the offense figures things out. The beauty of this defense is I believe they can stop a power-running team, or a wide-open spread team, and that's a credit to Ash.

- I would still have Ohio State at #1 right now in my personal Top-Four. Followed by Mississippi at #2, Michigan State at #3, and LSU and Notre Dame tied at #4. This defense keeps them at the top spot for me, and they don't play in the SEC West so there is a lot of time to get the offense fixed. There are a lot of bad teams remaining on the schedule for the next month or so. Continue to win and get ready for the next game is the mantra right now. You can't win a championship in September/October, but you can sure lose them then, so keep finding a way to win.

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