Who calls defensive plays?

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Last updated: 02/25/2014 3:34 AM
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Who Will Call Plays on Defense? The Answer is Really Pretty Simple
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The 2013 season finished with the Ohio State Buckeyes giving up 38.3 points per game over their final three games. There was a pretty good idea that some type of shakeup would be coming, and much of that shakeup came in the form of new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash.

Since the day Ash was hired the questions of who would now possess the defensive play-calling duties blossomed like wild dandelions on an open field.

Would the honor stay with defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, or would they be graciously handed off to Ash, who has called defenses for both Arkansas and Wisconsin in the past?

When Urban Meyer finally met with the media on the subject, the answer to who would be calling the plays could not have possibly been made more clear.

"We're going to have those conversations," Meyer declaratively said of the topic.

"Right now Luke will. Who has the ultimate say? How do I say this...on offense some people would say you need one coordinator. That's certainly one way to go about it. Who has the ultimate say on offense? If someone said Tom Herman, I might raise my hand and say I'm not quite sure that's correct at certain times. So Ed Warinner at times does, I do. Once again, some people might disagree with that.

"So Luke Fickell's the defensive coordinator, co-coordinator when there's third down or some type of pass and I want a real strong back end presence, and that's what we've got."

You see? Simple. Luke Fickell will be calling the plays, unless he isn't. At that point, Ash will then call plays until he's not, but only while he is. It's an incredibly collaborative effort that leaves no questions asked.

When a play needs to be called that involves Luke Fickell calling it, then Fickell will call it. When a play needs to be called that involves Chris Ash calling it, then Ash will call it. Collaboration is common, and in some cases, welcome.

Obviously Chris Ash is comfortable with the game plan, or else he wouldn't have left the comforts of Bret Bielema's tutelage. Ash knows what he is being asked to do, at least he is when he's asked to do it, and when he's not being asked to do it, you can bet that he'll be getting ready to be asked. That's called preparation, and you either have it, or you don't.

That's the type of comfort level that everybody has with everybody else. It's like a hippie commune, except the main crop is teamwork instead of hemp.

Anyway, what is there to not be comfortable with? Everything is spelled out incredibly clear. When Ash was asked who would call plays, his answer couldn't have been more direct and sure.

"When you talk about defensive staffs that have good chemistry and work together, when you get to game day, most of the people on the defensive staff should be able to make the calls," he said.

"If everyone's aligned the right way, then calling on game day is really not that difficult. Everything we're gonna do, it's gonna be a team effort, and on game day it'll be a team effort."

Got it?

Calling a defensive game plan is easy to do if everybody is aligned properly. Anybody can do it, and at Ohio State we know exactly who that anybody is.

Maybe now people will move on and start focusing on something less settled, like who might win Ohio State's starting quarterback competition, or whether or not Urban Meyer is now on the hot seat after two consecutive losses.

At least those topics have some merit, because wondering who is going to be calling the plays on defense has been asked and answered.


And answered.

The topic is officially closed, and the best part is that everybody will now know who to be angry with if things don't go as well as people are expecting them to.

And in the end, isn't that the real reason you wanted to know who was calling the plays in the first place?

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