Week-Five: Thoughts On The OSU Defense

Ohio State narrowly escaped with a win over Indiana Saturday in Bloomington, securing the win in the last seconds. What stood out on the defensive side of the ball?

- First off, that was a weird game Ohio State just played with Indiana from both sides of the football. For the defense, it was both dominating and frustrating at the same time. They had stretches where they totally wrecked everything Indiana tried to do, and the Hoosiers have quality players on offense. But there were plays, LIKE THE DAGGONE 79 YARD TOUCHDOWN RUN, that drive you crazy. 

- Giving up 400 yards isn't quality defense, or is it? Indiana barely ran for 3 yards per carry on average, and they have a great running attack. Throwing the football? They only had 226 yards on 17 completions, which isn't bad. But they ran 91 plays, which is WAY too many. Ohio State was 8 for 25 on thrird and fourth down, which again isn't bad at all. 

- To me, the defense was hurt by three things: the turnovers from Cardale Jones and Jalin Marshall, the fact that OSU created zero turnovers from Indiana, and of course THE DAGGONE 79 YARD TOUCHDOWN RUN. What were two positives that people might have missed? The fact that they were able to play Marshon Lattimore ands Cam Williams in meaningful minutes, and both players did well. This is the year of The Injury in college football, and it was good to see two guys without a lot of playing experience step in and contribute. 

- For the linebackers, Raekwon McMillan had a ton of tackles for the second straight week, but I thought his play was 100X better against Indiana. The week before, a lot of those tackles came with cleat marks in his chest and took place eight yards down the field. Not so against Indiana, and he was all over the field and especially physical against a good running game. Joshua Perry was solid again, and this is his calling card, while Darron Lee just continues to wreak havoc. This is a great unit, although the depth is not known. It was good to see Williams contribute. 

- The defensive tackles were also 100X better, and the Indiana rushing attack is WAY better than Western Michigan's. Joey Bosa is possibly not playing to last year's level, but he's close and still a dominant force. Adolphus Washington is getting to be like Perry, solid week after week. Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard have their best football ahead of them, but they're playing well in the first cracks at playting time. No worries with this group, and it was encouraging to see them hold up better against the run. 

- The secondary is just an amazing group of talent, and similar to linebacker, we do not know about depth. Seeing Lattimore step in and play is a good sign, because he's going to be needed down the road. This group is as good as anyone in America lines up, so no worries with these guys at all. 

- Overall, there some were missed tackles, Tyvis Powell dropped a huge pick and Indiana made a few big plays (especially THE DAGGONE 79 YARD TOUCHDOWN RUN), but when you're out there for 35 minutes and go up against 91 plays, it's hard to be perfect. Is this a championship defense? To me, it's a no-brainer that they are. 

- It was good to see these guys be put in a position where they needed to stop four shots from the goal line to preserve the victory. Of course, it's easy to say that on Sunday morning, but of course nobody thought that when it was actually happening. This builds character and confidence, just like it did last year when they gutted out a win against Penn State. You develop more in tight, competitive moments than you do in blowing out people 55-10 all the time. They were tested late, and they came through. Still the number-one team in the country to me. And the rest can be ranked any way you like, because I still think this team is the best there is right now. 

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