Week-Six: Thoughts On The Ohio State Defense

Ohio State defeated Maryland 49-28 Saturday to continue their undefeated season. How did the defense perform in the win?

- Weird game from the defense, especially in the first half. Also, a very frustrating performance for the coaches because the Ohio State defense did so many things well in the win. BUT, they also made some of the same mistakes that plagued them last week against Indiana, so there was a little step backwards for this group. 

- Maryland is pretty much a joke offensively, indicated by their zero against Michigan the week prior and the whopping six they put up on West Virginia two weeks ago. In a game Ohio State needed to sort of reestablish themselves as a worthy number-one, you would think they would come out and totally dominate the Terp offense in the first half, which they did for all but two plays. 

- With Vonn Bell either texting his girlfriend or ordering takeout for later, the Terps ran right by him for the easiest touchdown pass you will ever see. Lost focus, poor technique or boredom somehow overcame the talented safety, and it looked like the Cincinnati game from last season all over again. After that, it was lockdown city for the rest of the half.......ALMOST. Until the linebackers and defensive backs took a play off and allowed a quarterback, not Adrian Peterson, but a quarterback to scamper 75 yards untouched down the middle of the field. 

- With the score 21-14, logic dictates that the defense would storm the field in the second half and immediately force them to go three-and-out, to take control of the game, right? Wrong. Joey Bosa commits a dumb penalty, the defense still hasn't figured out the QB can run, and they give up the score that ties the game at 21. Maddening. 

- After that? It's total lockdown the rest of the way until Maryland got a gift in the last few minutes to hit 28 points. In between all that bad, there was actually a lot of good defense played. You could name 15 guys and probably point out 3-4 great plays by each one. But also one play from each one that has you scratching your head. 

- The bottom line is that this defense has slipped a little the past two weeks, against two pretty sorry offenses. Are they getting totally rolled? Of course not. But they are not playing to the level they should be with the talent that's been assembled. This has been a team that has made a ton of mistakes already this year, on both sides of the football. Mistakes that are not usually associated with an Urban Meyer coached team. Penalties. Breakdowns. Missed tackles. Poor angles. Stuff you didn't see in the first four games for the most part. Why now? 

- I have a ton of faith in Chris Ash, and the defensive schemes he believes in. It's not like there's been a defensive collapse at all, but rather minor errors that become major problems if not fixed. I believe Ash rights the ship this week, before there is more slippage. Regardless, Ohio State has given up way too many points to Indiana and Maryland the past two weeks. 

- Where does Ohio State stand from a national perspective? Tough to say right now, because who's all that good in college football right now? Do Michigan and Florida hold up the rest of the year? Who would be a team Ohio State absolutely would not want to play right now? Baylor? Maybe. Michigan State and TCU have been ruined by injuries, and they both appear to be on borrowed time. Is Clemson the real deal? Possibly. 

- The opposite of that is: Who would want to play Ohio State right now for all the marbles? I still don't think that's a thought anybody is desiring, even with the Buckeyes not exactly firing on all cylinders. This is a year where you have to stay as healthy as possible. Then find a way to win your division. Then come up with a plan to capture your conference title. And then get to the final four playing your best football. 

- Although ready to admit this team is not dominating people right now, I do think Ohio State has more than enough talent to accomplish all the goals described in the above paragraph. They could also lose this week to Penn State. This is not an all-time great team right now, not even close. But what are they? Who are they? 

- You get that answer over the next month. I don't see a game on the schedule that's not winnable. I don't see an opponent in America that Ohio State could not beat right now. They have to find a way to get better on both sides of the ball. The offense has taken major strides the past few weeks. Now it's time for the defense to get back to playing like they can. The kicking game is a problem, but you can't trade for guys or pick them up on waivers like the NFL does. You have to hope Jack Willoughby doesn't miss one at the buzzer when you're down by three.

- Coaching is all about solving problems, in my way of thinking. Of course, you want to line up and smoke every team on the schedule 54-3, but that's not reality. Ohio State is far from a perfect team, but their issues are fixable to me, so they can still reach all their goals. I still have them at number-one, followed by Baylor and Clemson. The fourth spot would be between 15 other teams right now. 

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