Over the last 10 days, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been asked an array of questions surrounding the Buckeyes’ loss to Purdue, and many of those questions included an area of criticism that has been present all season long: the defense.
When Meyer was asked if they were able to determine the root of the defense’s problems, he said the number one thing was missed tackles. The Ohio State defense missed a total of 20 tackles against the Boilermakers, which is always going to make things difficult, especially on the road.
Speaking on Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference, he said the team immediately went to work and spent the bye week fixing the mistakes and the missed tackles.
Sophomore linebacker Tuf Borland said that they have been tackling quite a bit the past two weeks because tackling is the first thing they have to do to stop big plays from happening.
“Obviously missed tackles aren’t a good thing, so we’re doing our best to figure it out,” Borland said.
Of course, the team, the coaches, and the fans all hope that they figure out the problem and take care of it. At this point in the season in order to get better at tackling, Borland said they just have to practice what they are used to doing, and hopefully the outcome will be different.
“We’re doing the same thing. Open-field tackling, deductive tackling system, rugby tackling,” Borland said. “We’ve been working on that in practice.”
With having the extra time to practice because of the bye week, there were other focuses in addition to fixing the tackling problem. Meyer said that while they placed a huge emphasis on tackling, they also spent the week looking at making some scheme adjustments to make sure they have the right players in the right places.
Borland said the defense is excited about making some schematic adjustments and doing some different things that they haven’t done before. So even though their tackling style will not change, there is a chance that the linebackers could look different on Saturday.
Even though their steps at tackling the tackling issue have yet to be seen in an actual game, the Buckeyes think they have already seen some improvement.
“I also think it just comes with experience, knowing where to be and stuff like that,” junior safety Jordan Fuller said. “This week I’ve seen a big improvement. A lot of it has to do with angles. So we worked on that and then we did a lot of tackling drills too, just a lot of tackling as well.”
Fuller also said that there was a noticeable difference in intensity at practice this week.