Buckeye Defense Plans on Being Better with Help of Buckeye Offense

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Last updated: 06/17/2014 0:44 AM
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Buckeye Defense Plans on Being Better with Help of Buckeye Offense
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Steel may sharpen steel, but when it comes to sharpening Silver Bullets, the Buckeye offense has proven to be an immensely effective tool over the years.

Would Mike Vrabel and Matt Finkes have been as effective without having to work against the likes of Korey Stringer and Orlando Pace? And after working against Terry Glenn in practice, games must have seemed like a breeze for Shawn Springs and Ty Howard.

Think of how much easier it was for Matt Wilhelm to deal with Big Ten running backs after trying to track down Maurice Clarett for weeks on end. The same could be said of James Laurinaitis and Beanie Wells. Practicing against Wells every week was either going to sharpen a linebacker, or drive him to a different sport.

Regardless of the era, a great defense is made better by going against great players throughout the week in practice. Even though the Buckeyes did not have the services of quarterback Braxton Miller this spring, and running back Carlos Hyde was long gone, the OSU defense still believes it saw enough skill on the other side of the ball to make them a better unit.

Joshua Perry tracks down Chris Fields.
Photo by Dan Harker
Joshua Perry and Chris Fields

"That puts a smile on your face because you know just going out there and competing against your own guys, you're going to get so much better," said linebacker Joshua Perry. 

"But then when the game time rolls around and you see those guys on the field doing what they do, it's like, how are you going to defend all of those weapons when we get the right combination and those guys get really good and we practice and we practice? It's really exciting to see. It's good for us every day to be able to go out there and play against them."

A dominating Ohio State offense can only be a good thing for a Buckeye defense. For one, if they did have trouble stopping their teammates in practice, they'll be relieved to know that they are not alone. But for two, if they do stop the OSU offense, then just stand back as their confidence grows.

A defense will never maximize its potential by testing itself against an offense that can't bend a towel. Fortunately for this Buckeye defense, they don't have to worry about going soft.

"The offense has so many weapons," Perry said. 

"I think our tight ends, the whole position group, they give us some trouble because they've got guys who can stretch the field and run. But they're rugged guys who can hit. Mike Thomas, Corey Smith, Johnnie Dixon, those guys can run and they can catch, and they run really good routes and do all of that.

Mike Thomas stretches the field at tight end.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Mike Thomas

"Then you've got the running back group, and we've got so many guys. They're deep. Every guy brings a little different skill set to the table. They're all hard to challenge. We get work from them too."

This Ohio State defense was put to the test constantly this spring, even if they weren't facing Braxton Miller. Everybody still had their assignments to cover, and even without Miller, those assignments still had their purpose.

The Buckeyes are expected to have one of the best offenses in the conference, if not the nation this coming season. Returning the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, a gaggle of talented running backs, and a group of receivers who are starving to get the ball in their hands is a recipe for tip-top practice performances. 

There are open jobs at receiver and running back for the Buckeyes. That means there will be absolutely zero coasting from the OSU offense. This Buckeye defense will never be able to take a rep for granted, because the players opposite them are trying to impress their own coaches.

The Silver Bullets may not have had to deal with Braxton Miller this spring, but they'll get their share of him this summer. The glimpse that the defense got of the offense this spring was a good one, and by all accounts it was effective.

The job, however, is not yet done.

If this Ohio State defense is going to be as good as they want to be, they'll need Miller and the rest of the Buckeye offense at their best as well.

If steel sharpens steel, and Buckeyes sharpen Silver Bullets, then you might want to consider this offense under Braxton Miller as the ultimate in football sharpening implements.

The Ohio State defense almost can't help but be better than they were a year ago, but much of that improvement will be thanks to the offense that they see every day in practice.

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