Meyer Answers Questions about His Defense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is not nearly as involved with the defense of his new football team as he is the offense, but the Buckeyes had some issues on both sides of the ball in their 35-28 win over Cal.
Meyer’s team allowed more yards in Ohio Stadium than is has since the John Cooper era, and he answered questions about some of those defensive issues during his weekly media luncheon on Monday.
Q. You how much more can you emphasize tackling? What will you do differently starting say Tuesday and Wednesday that will make a change?
MEYER: Emphasis, you get what you emphasize. All I heard about was lack of turnovers a year ago, and certainly we are creating some more. Not as many this past week. But we've got something that I learned from my mentor, Coach (Earle) Bruce. I know we tackled more than anybody, but obviously it's not getting the job done, so we have to tackle more. Instead of one day a week, we'll probably have to go two now. It's all about fundamentals technique.
We make a huge emphasis on stripping the ball. If you watch one of those tackles, it looked like the guy was going after the ball instead of wrapping him up. So we've addressed that and we'll have more conversation about that.
Q. But you have six sacks. Just what in your head, what kind of defensive game was that?
MEYER: It was bad.
Q. It caused a huge turnover at the end.
MEYER: I think the 40% of their yardage at the end of the day, half of it was on six plays. Two of them the guy was down. I mean, put him on the ground instead of strip the ball. That goes down to fundamentals and how do you improve that? You work really hard on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Q. The defense so far, I know you don't want to put your defense in bad situations, but there's been some quick change so far this year, and they've done a good job keeping points off the board. Can you talk about the way they've bared down in the situation?
MEYER: Absolutely. I think I gave you that stat. Five times they're inside the 40‑yard line. This is, when you say our plan to win and the way to manage a game, we won a game and everything went opposed to what we prepare around here as far as field position.
As far as we haven't blocked a punt yet this year. We're not dynamic on kickoff return, and we've put our defense in bad field position several times. So I'm very proud of that. Of all the stats on defense, there are two that caught my eye. That's we're hitting the quarterback, and also the fact that we stiffened up when we had to down there.
Q. In the first three games you guys have given up 13 plays of 20 yards or more on defense. It's gotten worse each week. Is it the scheme, lack of execution or just bad tackling?
MEYER: I think it would be too easy to say bad tackling. There are some scheme issues involved that you've already addressed. There is an area where we're getting hurt. I can share that with you. It's not that big of a deal because you see it.
A good piece of it is poor tackling, but once again blame it on the kid for poor tackling. That's not acceptable. That is the most alarming thing. I can't remember Ohio State defense, I've watched them for a long time, and I can't remember the defense I've been around that's given up this many. We've got to stop or we'll lose the game.
Other than saying that is a high priority and getting that stuff fixed, that's all I can share with you now. We're working awfully hard to get that done.
Q. Any confidence you will? Couple of years ago special teams were an issue early in the season. They thought they got it fixed and then against Wisconsin, it reared its ugly head again.
MEYER: Am I confident?
MEYER: Yeah, to the point that we have to. I've got to see it. I'm no different than you right there. That is absolutely not acceptable. Let's get it fixed. There is no magic wand. We've got our personnel. Personnel I don't believe is an issue. But we've got to make tackles, tackle better in practice, make sure our schemes are more sound into the boundary area, which we're working on that now.
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