When Adolphus Washington intercepted Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell and the 6-4, 290-pound defensive tackle lumbered 20 yards for a score it was Ohio State’s third defensive touchdown in as many games.
You probably already knew that. What many have failed to appreciate, however, is just how explosive the Ohio State defense has been. I am here to fix that.
Let’s start with the fact that during the three-game stretch that the Silver Bullets have found the end zone they’ve also limited their opponents to as many scores. Let’s rephrase for emphasis, the Ohio State defense has limited their last three opponents – Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan – to three total touchdowns while also finding the end zone three times. The fact that the Buckeyes defense has cancelled out every touchdown they’ve allowed is pretty amazing.
“That’s fun,” linebacker Joshua Perry said. “(Washington) said after his little run there he fell. He said he was so nervous finally getting in the end zone. I think that’s three games in a row now that we’ve had a defender score. That’s just awesome.”
Looking even more closely, Ohio State’s defensive touchdowns have covered a total of 75 yards. The two touchdown drives by Western Michigan and one by Northern Illinois combined for 154 yards. So not only is the Buckeye defense matching teams’ touchdown-for-touchdown, its gaining about half the yards as its opponents on those scores.
Dialing things back to last season, the Buckeye defense has now scored a touchdown in six of its last eight games. The current streak is the second three-game stretch with a defensive score as the Silver Bullets found the end zone once each against Michigan, Wisconsin and Alabama last season.
Going all the way back to the start of last season, Ohio State has scored nine defensive touchdowns in its last 19 games. The Buckeyes have secured 42 total turnovers in that stretch meaning they’ve found the end zone 21.4 percent of the time they’ve secured the possession. More than a fifth of the time an Ohio State defender comes up with the ball he doesn’t let go of it until he’s in the end zone.
Freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who scored a touchdown on his interception against Maryland last year, said the Buckeyes current streak should actually be four games. Cornerback Eli Apple recovered a fumble against Virginia Tech and had a chance to score before being brought down.
“When the ball is in our hands we become the offense,” the linebacker said.
While the Buckeye defense is still light-years behind the offense in terms of explosive scoring plays (the offense has scored 108 touchdowns since the start of the 2014 season), but it’s closer to some offenses around the country than you might think.
The Silver Bullets have been nearly one third as productive as offenses at Tulane and Wake Forest as those units have scored 31 touchdowns during Ohio State’s stretch with nine defensive scores. Is that embarrassing for the Green Wave and Demon Deacons? Sure, but it’s also another feather in the Buckeye defense’s cap.
If Ohio State’s defense keeps up the scoring pace from the first three games of the season (it almost certainly won’t) the stop troops will score nine touchdowns in the regular season – more than all but 20 receivers managed to score in the 2014 season.
You knew that Washington’s interception return for a touchdown was impressive. Maybe you were aware of the remarkable scoring streak the defense is on. Hopefully after gaining some context from these statistics you realize just how explosive the Silver Bullets have been.