The Buckeyes were tasked with not only stopping Sam Darnold in the passing game in Friday night’s Cotton Bowl, the defense also needed to contain Darnold’s running ability. The USC Quarterback is notorious for moving out of the pocket to extend plays, and ultimately extending drives.
Midway through the second quarter, the Buckeyes were showing blitz by both linebackers on a 2nd-and-8 play. At the snap, both linebackers retreated while the Trojans ran a crossing route underneath.
With the pass rush collapsing the pocket and the linebacker retreating at the snap, Darnold was able to escape and pick up a first down.
Later in the same drive, the Trojans were facing a 3rd-and-6 and the Buckeyes again showed blitz by both linebackers.
Instead of retreating, both linebackers hovered around the line of scrimmage in order to negate any escape by Darnold.
The minor change allowed Jalyn Holmes and Chase Young to force a turnover and put an end to a potential scoring drive by the Trojans.
In this edition of the Buckeye Breakdown, we take a more detailed look at how the Ohio State defensive front limited the damage done by Sam Darnold on the ground en route to being crowned Cotton Bowl Champions.