Buckeyes Make Personnel Changes on D
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After missing 27 tackles in their 24-6 loss to Miami, the Buckeyes said they had to get back to the fundamentals on defense.
They also had to take a hard look at what they were doing defensively.
The players were the ones who missed the tackles that allowed Lamar Miller to rush for 184 yards against a defense that is known for stopping the run, but the coaches knew they also needed to make some changes.
“If anything we've narrowed down a little bit,” Defensive Coordinator Jim Heacock said.
“Maybe trying not to do quite as much as we've done in the past, just have a little bit less scheme, letting them play a little bit more. They are a young group. There's youth all over the place and very few seniors.”
One of the few upperclassmen on the 2011 Ohio State defense is safety Orhian Johnson. The redshirt junior out of St. Petersburg, Fla. is one of only four returning starters from last year’s defense, but the Buckeyes decided to make a switch after the Miami game.
Photo by Jim Davidson
OSU safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Paul Haynes told Christian Bryant on Tuesday that he would start against Colorado in place of Johnson on the back end of Ohio State’s defense.
“He's been very good in practice and he's been very active, very productive,” Heacock said of the sophomore defensive back.
“That's the thing that last year we had a lot of production guys, and when you graduate your six or seven best production guys, you're always looking for those production guys to get on the field, so we're playing a lot of guys right now and a lot of it is to find guys who are going to make plays.”
The 5-10, 190-pound Bryant is a natural playmaker on defense. At Glenville, he played corner and safety, and in his first start of the season, Bryant led the Buckeyes with six tackles and one pass break up.
“I think I'm a physical player. I get to the ball really fast,” said Bryant, who started one game as a true freshman last season.
“I'm just a fast play. I'm an instinctive player. Those are a few things that I bring to the table.”
As a big hitter who can also cover in the open field, Bryant’s most natural position might actually be the “star” spot in Ohio State’s nickel defense. That’s probably where he will line up next season, but for now that spot belongs to sixth-year senior Tyler Moeller.
The Buckeyes played a lot of nickel Saturday against Colorado, but they also implemented a new look defensively that was designed to get more speed on the field against Colorado’s spread passing attack.
“We knew they liked to spread the ball a lot and they like to throw the ball, so we had to go to something that was more of a passing defense like the dime package where Orhian comes in and Christian goes to star,” cornerback Travis Howard said.
“We used that at times when they spread the ball out. We knew they were going to pass and it gets more DBs on the field and allows us to make more plays.”
In the nickel, Moeller is at the “star” position with Bryant and C.J. Barnett as the two deep safeties. When the Buckeyes went to their dime look Saturday, Orhian Johnson came back in at safety and Bryant slid down to the “star” position.
Heacock also made some changes up front when the Buckeyes were in the dime look. He substituted youngsters J.T. Moore and Michael Bennett for Adam Bellamy and Garrett Goebel to give them a better rush in obvious passing situations.
“We were trying to get our nickel and dime stuff in there on passing downs and when they were in one-back set. It was our plan going in,” Heacock said.
“We've got to rotate these through, get some of these younger guys, some freshmen that have to come on a little bit. Bennett played a lot today and does a good job but he's got to take that next step and become a little bit more productive for us.”
With Nathan Williams’ status still in question, the Buckeyes also got some of their other young guys some real playing time on the defensive line.
“Darryl Baldwin played pretty well today and he's got to come on,” Heacock said.
“Steve Miller played today for the first time extensively. He played quite a bit. He's got to come on.”
The Buckeyes don’t expect to see nearly as much spread offense this week from Michigan State, but they know they have to be more prepared than ever for what teams are going to throw at them.
“The thing we're getting so much anymore, you saw it last week and you saw it this week, people are coming out in three tight ends and the offensive line and power and running the ball, then all of a sudden they're running out all these receivers in the spread,” Heacock said.
“So offensively you're seeing such a variety that you really have to have the ability to play a good run defense and then you have to have the ability to get dime and nickel on the field, some more DBs, and play good pass defense.”
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.