Linebackers. Most teams are looking for big, fast and strong linebackers to anchor the defense, and rightfully so.
The position group is arguably the most important cog in any defensive scheme as the right blend of athletes can boost a defensive front or help minimize the exposure of a secondary. But what happens when a group is “too” athletic? And is there even such a thing?
Linebackers coach Bill Davis stated this past spring that Jerome Baker was often out of position during the 2016 season. The statement caught many Buckeye supporters off guard considering the successful campaign Baker put together filling in for an injured Dante Booker. Davis went on to state that because he wasn’t always lined up properly, Baker had further distance to go to get back into position.
With Baker reportedly lining up correctly in 2017, it is somewhat a head-scratcher as to why he has not had a greater impact so far this season.
It has been my theory that Baker in particular is keying too much on making a big play and seems to “float” or drift out of position when diagnosing a play, causing him to miss a run fit, which leads to a big gain.
While play speed and instincts are important traits in any position group, it appears as though opposing teams are scheming around this deficiency in discipline shown by the Ohio State defense.
As the Buckeyes enter the meat of their conference schedule, the impact of the defense will be directly related to the discipline of the defense, primarily the linebacker unit.
Sometimes less is more, and in the case of Jerome Baker, a post-snap “pause” could be the key to increased production.