Ohio State Disclosed Chizik's Plan Of Attack

Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik's approach in the home opener was, admittedly, about as base as it gets. But it's for the Ohio States of the world that Chizik was hired.

No small part of last week’s buildup had to do with how Texas’ new defensive coach would scheme to slow a Buckeye offense that has shown signs of departing from its time-honored power running game to more of a spread offense. How would Chizik put the clamps on FL Ted Ginn, Jr. and SE Santonio Holmes? How would he defend the Buckeyes’ two-headed quarterback?

During the second half, Chizik directed the FS to first provide run-support after the Buckeyes borrowed a page from Texas’ Zone Read offense. He also unveiled his nickel and dime package after intermission for the first time this season. He called for a healthy mix of zone and man defense, and blitzed linebackers and DBs when he thought the occasion warranted it. Meanwhile, SS Michael Huff drew top assignment Ginn, limiting the Sports Illustrated cover boy to a Heisman-busting nine yards on two receptions.

During the Ohio State drive that resulted in Josh Huston’s missed 50-yard FG attempt, Chizik called on his defense "to be more aggressive. When you’re down by six, you call the game a little bit differently in those situations. The kicker had been so great all night. If they centered the ball in the middle of the field on the 20, chances of him making it are really good so we were trying to do some things to try to keep them back and get some negative plays."

It represents a departure from former Co-DC Greg Robinson’s read-and-react style that directed down linemen to hold their spot on the LOS and channel the flow of the play to the linebackers. Robinson placed a premium on containment whereas Chizik wants his front four to converge on, and collapse, the pocket.

"We went with a couple of pressure-fronts," Chizik continued. "As long as they’re not standing around waiting without a pass rush to bat balls down, as long as you’re moving vertically and you’re batting those balls down, you’re in good shape. We got our hands on a couple balls Saturday night by doing that."

Chizik’s game plan was months in the making, beginning last spring when his staff prepared a DVD for players highlighting the kind of formations the team expected to see last Saturday in Columbus.

"In a game like that, you have to prepare for so many what-ifs," he said. "You look at 12 films on a team, and in those 12 films, there is a lot of stuff out there to cover. There were some things that we spent half our time on that we never saw because we thought it would be a bigger issue than it was. The very first formation that they came out in was one that we saw just four times last year. They made a living off that formation (three wides to one side, a TE on the back side). It was one they were in a lot. The first time out of the box, everybody adjusted to it right. I thought there was really good communication between the secondary and the linebackers on coverage issues and alignment. And they gave us some new running game stuff out of (the alignment), too."

Conversely, Chizik anticipated more of a two-back, one TE, power-running game than the Buckeyes showed Saturday.

"I think we saw four snaps of it all night, and one of it was a reverse. It was surprising that we didn’t see as much of a power running game as we thought."

Chizik led his troops in an exhaustive review session Friday night.

"We talked so much Friday night of what are you going to be like when we’re ten (points) up? What are you going to be like when you’re six down? What are you going to be like when they get the ball on the 20? What are you going to be like when they’re on the 20 with 80 (yards) to go? We talked about being prepared for anything, for any sudden change that can happen. No matter what happens in a game, we’ve got to play the same way. It was really good to see them respond to that because, a lot of times, that can be lip service. You never saw them get their heads down. You never saw their body language change. I think that’s huge."

As promised, Chizik did not alter the defense based on which Ohio State QB was behind center.

"We just played within our defense but they understood who was in there and what they were more likely to do with one in there than the other."

Chizik played four DTs Saturday (Rod Wright, Larry Dibbles, Frank Okam, Thomas Marshall) while Robert Killebrew was the only backup linebacker to see action against the Bucks.

The bottom line for Chizik: "We did not play well on defense all night; we played hard. They did what we asked them to do but, in terms of playing within the defense right now, we have a lot of corrections to get done."

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