Defensive Quotebook: Buckeyes Prep For Iowa

Earlier this week, we had a chance to meet with several of OSU's defensive leaders, including safety Donte Whitner. They discussed OSU's two-game losing streak, what has happened defensively and the challenge and importance of Saturday's game at Iowa.

Earlier this week, we had a chance to speak with several of OSU's key play makers on defense. The Buckeyes are at a crossroads at 3-2 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play heading into Saturday's game at Iowa.

OSU is still a respectable 33rd nationally in total defense at 314.4 yards per game allowed this year. But the Buckeyes have fallen off considerably against the run after being one of the nation's best in that category the last two years. Going into this weekend, OSU is a pedestrian 67th nationally against the run (146.6 yards per game).

Here are some comments from safeties Nate Salley and Donte Whitner as well as linebacker Bobby Carpenter on Iowa, the play of the defense and more:

Nate Salley

* On going to Iowa -- "It's my first time out there. I've heard a lot about it, including the pink locker room. We'll see.

"This is a huge game. We're 0-2 in the Big Ten. We just want to go out there and have something positive happen for us. The last two weeks, it seems like things have been pretty negative coming off two losses. We still have a lot of faith in what we can do. We just need to work hard to get the job done."

* On what's plaguing the defense -- "I believe our schemes have been great for the teams we've been playing and we've been playing hard. We've just made some little mistakes here and there, though, that gave up some big plays. We need to work on that.

"Ever since I've been here, we've been 90 percent on tackling. This year, we're down a little bit. We've got to get that back as a group. Certain guys have been missing some tackles. I know I've been missing some ones that I usually make. If everybody works on that, we'll get better at running to the ball and swarming.

"Nobody has had a negative attitude. Everybody is being positive. In practice, guys are like, `Come on, D, let's get it going.' We have to stay positive and believe in each other."

* On Anthony Schlegel filling in for Mike D'Andrea at middle linebacker -- "Schlegel has done a great job. He's a beast. He doesn't care who is trying to block him. He's going to get to that ball. You love to have guys like that out there. Mike D'Andrea was the same way. They're going to get to the ball no matter what and try to make the tackle. You love to have guys like that on your side."

Donte Whitner

* On the defense's troubles -- "We have a lot of young players and we are still learning how to win games. It is a learning experience and it is somewhat humbling. Any game in the Big Ten, if you don't go out and give 110 percent and do the things you have to do to win, you can be beat."

* On what to expect at Iowa -- "We expect them to spread it out a little. We expect a little bit more pass than run.

"I hear from the coaching staff it's a hard place to play. The crowd is right up on you and it's pretty rowdy. I think they have a 15-game home winning streak. It's a tough place to play."

* On the team's mind-set heading into this game -- "There is a sense of urgency. There was a sense of urgency when we lost to Northwestern. We felt we had to and wanted to win the Wisconsin game. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. Now we're looking at 0-3 or 1-2 in the Big Ten. We feel like we have to win this game and we're preparing ourselves to go in there and do everything possible to win it.

"We can't go into this game worrying about mistakes we made in the last two games. We have to go into this game and play well."

Bobby Carpenter

* On Iowa -- "They have a big, physical offensive line and they will try to run the ball. They run a lot of boots. They have some good receivers and the quarterback is a good athlete. He's good at escaping the pocket pressure and getting out into the open and making some plays.

"There are a lot of streaks at stake here. A three-game losing streak and they have a 15-game home winning streak. It's a tough place to play and I guess they have a pink locker room. They're a good team and they play well at home. It should be a tough game."

* On what's happened to the defense -- "We've kind of been embarrassed the last two weeks on defense. We picked up our effort last week, but it kind of got away from us at the end. It will take a few games for us to be able to get that Ohio State mystique back."

* On getting on a roll at home, as OSU was before the loss to Wisconsin -- "When you're winning at home, after 10 or 11 games you feel like you can't lose. And we felt that way. I don't think we were overconfident or cocky. We were extremely confident going in that nobody beats us in our house."

* On defensive breakdowns -- "We've just had some problems at times. I'll put some of it on me. I haven't gotten the depth of my drop a few times and they've beaten me down the seam a few times. There was one time at Northwestern and one time against Wisconsin, it was my fault.

"You don't get the pass rush sometimes. Sometimes you don't get good coverage by the DBs, sometimes the linebackers aren't getting their on their blitzes or their not getting enough depth on their drop. It's not one position. Every time, it's a different guy. When something happens like that, you have to pick it up for that."

* On third-down woes for the defense -- "Our problems haven't been on third-and-short. We've done a good job of stopping them in those. But when it's been third-and-8 or third-and-9 or even when it was third-and-15 against Northwestern, they found a way to get 17 yards out of that. You can't have that happen any more.

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