Week-Seven: Thoughts On The OSU Defense

Ohio State defeated Penn State 38-10 Saturday night in Columbus, led by a dominating defense. Who stood out on that side of the football for the Buckeyes?

- In a game that Ohio State needed their defense to come up big, Chris Ash and his troops delivered in a big way Saturday night in the win over Penn State. Even though freshman runningback sensation Saquon Barkley ran all over the Buckeye defense, they did not allow much at all through the air and made Penn State very one dimensional. 

- The run defense was not good once again, although it wasn't the running quarterback gashing them this week. This was very similar to last season when it seemed everybody ran the football on Ohio State the second half of the season. And oh yah, OSU won all those games. There's no doubting that Ash was brought to Ohio State to stop the passing game, and he has done exactly that. 

- This team plays a lot of man coverage, and gets after the passer relentlessly, but it almost seems they only worry about the run if they see someone with the ball on their way to the quarterback. Regardless, this is the passing era of college football and it's darn near impossible to consistently hurt Ohio State through the air. 

- I think Eli Apple and Gareon Conley take a lot of unfair criticism, and I also think both are amazing football players. Being asked to play man coverage on an island is a heck of a lot more difficult than dropping back in a zone in a Cover-Two, where you just keep everything in front. These two are the key to this defense, and if they get torched then Ohio State will either give up 50 or be forced to play zone. There is a lot of pressure on these two, and they are extremely reliable. 

- Joey Bosa had a Joey Bosa game Saturday, which means he was unblockable pressuring the passer. This was the type of effort Ohio State fans have come to expect from Bosa, and he played a heck of a game. Teams commit so much to contain Bosa that he's tougher to stop when he's inside in my opinion. Asking a guard to block him is too much to ask. I don't think they would play Bosa inside full time, but it would get their four best defensive linemen on the field by inserting Sam Hubbard, and subtracting Tommy Schutt, Donovan Munger, Michael Hill and Joel Hale. But it's great on passing downs. 

- The starting linebackers are great, but there have been questions on depth all season. Dante Booker stepped in for injured Josh Perry, and it wasn't good even though it was his first real action as a redshirt freshman. Booker seemed tentative and was replaced by Cam Williams before he was ejected. Chris Worley also got playing time, and could be next week's starter. The good news is Perry could conceivably sit out until the Michigan State game to get fully healthy. 

- After getting hurt by Indiana and Maryland, it was good to see the defense hold Penn State to ten points. This defense is as good as any when they're playing well. Being good in coverage, being able to pressure the passer and causing turnovers is a recipe for success. Having trouble with running quarterbacks is concerning, but Connor Cook and Jake Rudock are not running threats. 

- I would still have Ohio State at #1, with Baylor very close at #2. Clemson would be #3 for me. There would be about 15 other schools tied for #4. There are no perfect teams and no powerhouses in college football this season. There are a lot of even teams, so the goal is win and advance. Ohio State has to find a way to win the East of the Big Ten. That's the only goal right now, and they're on track to do that.

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