Pass defense is a many-pronged attack, but the cohesion between pass rush and pass coverage will always be the key. You can dial up as many different looks and formations and defenses as you like, and they will all work as long you can rush the passer and cover the receivers.
Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs understands this symbiosis better than most, and what he saw from the OSU defensive line this spring should have Buckeye fans excited about 2017.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen collectively on the field at any given time,” he said. “They’re fast, they’re physical, they’re intense, they’re experienced, they’re strong and they’re going to put pressure on everybody’s offense. If we can get pressure with a four-man rush, which we should absolutely be able to do, that aids the coverage. Our guys know those guys are going to get home. That’s a real advantage for us.”
Defensive aggression hasn’t been an issue for the Buckeyes for a few years now, and this year will be no different. The difference will come on the offensive side of the ball, where Ohio State might finally be back in attack mode.
“We did a really good job of attacking this spring, especially in two of the three scrimmages we had,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said back in April. “It’s part of the mentality to have an attacking personality, as a competitor to always be in the attack mode and playing fast. That’s what we do. When you think about the Ohio State offense you think about we’re always on the attack.”
Barrett knows that the offense hasn’t been as aggressive as people would like over the past couple of years, but he’s also of the belief that those days are over.
“At times I think we got away from that for whatever reason,” he said. “But now, it’s the main focus to make sure we’re always on the attack.”
No Growing Pains
Urban Meyer is the main reason for this renewed focus on attacking as an offense, but he’s put new offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day in charge of actually making it happen.
As always, the spring is a time of growth for young players. Just as importantly, however, it’s also a time of growth for the new coaches on the staff.
“I think each day as coaches, me and Coach Day just get more comfortable at understanding the concepts we like and understanding our players and how to put it all together,” Wilson said. “The kids grew a lot, but I think me and Coach Day probably grew as much as just getting a little bit more comfortable to try to work and lead the group and lead the staff.”