Film Review: Unbalanced Buckeye Defense Needs Fixed for 2019

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[Note: Nathan Hyatt is a new contributor for The-Ozone who will be doing some film breakdowns for us moving forward.]

As you all know, the Buckeyes defense was riddled by the big play this past season.

The big run was the main culprit. Only four teams in the nation gave up more runs of at least 40 yards than OSU did (12).

Ohio State gave up touchdown runs of 80, 78, 93, 40, 81, 75, and 77 yards, and none of these runs were given up to the “Big Boys.”

When you give up that many long runs in a season, and throughout the entire season, something major is wrong. The question becomes is it personnel, scheme, or the coaching of the scheme?

It is not personnel, unless you think Oregon State, TCU, Purdue, Maryland, and Northwestern have superior talent to the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes did, however, have a schematic issue that ran through week 11 of the season. The Ohio State defense was consistently beaten on long runs to the boundary. This is where almost all of the long runs broke against Ohio State.

When the ball is on a hash mark, the wide side is called ‘the field’ and the short side, ‘the boundary.’ The Buckeyes play a 4-3 under front. In a 4-3 alignment, teams will move their defensive tackles along the front. The spots where the defensive linemen line up are numbered.

If you are a defensive tackle and told to line up in a 1 technique, you are going to lineup inside shade of the guard in the A gap. If you are a 3 technique you are going lineup outside shade of the guard in the B gap.

Teams blend the tackle alignments into a two digit number. For instance, ’31’ means the tackle to the strongside of defense will line up in a 3 technique and the weakside DT in a 1 technique. A ’13’ means the strongside DT will be in a 1 and the weakside DT in a 3.

Here is a classic example of a team setting their 13 front to the strength of the offense.

The Buckeyes are going to line up in a 13 front in the play against TCU below. Meaning the call side DT will line up to a 1 and the backside in a 3. Teams that run a 4-3 under will call their front to either the strength of the offense or to the field typically.

Shopping at the Wrong Gap

The play below is in the first half vs Oregon State. Oregon State discovers the Buckeyes’ weakness defending the boundary run on 3 and 19 with 30 seconds left in the first half. The Buckeyes align with both their DTs in 3 techniques. The Buckeyes have over rotated the LBs to the field, leaving only one remaining LB to play both A gaps.

The LB picks the field side A gap and the boundary side A gap is vacant. The RB hits the boundary side A gap for a 31 yard gain.

Ohio State had huge issues over rotating their LBs and/or the secondary almost all season to the field, leaving the boundary susceptible to long runs. Here is the same problem lingering into week 11. The Buckeyes are lined up against Maryland in the pic below. This is Maryland’s first long touchdown run of the game.

Once again a team is going to take advantage of the Buckeyes overplaying the field. Maryland goes unbalanced and shows jet sweep to the field. Once the ball is snapped to the boundary the Buckeyes have a DT in the A gap, DE in the B gap, and a corner in the C gap. There is no LB help at all here. Maryland takes advantage of this. The safety takes a poor angle and Maryland strikes up the band with a touchdown.

For these issues to go on for 11 weeks is mindblowing.

The Buckeyes are schematically unsound at the snap of the ball. The Ohio State defensive staff has to know this. They aren’t dummies.

My best guess is they had some players playing two gaps. For example, if your key does this, you have the A gap, or if he does this, you’ve got backside B gap.

They also more than likely had checks to make. Meaning if Ohio State was in a certain defense and the offense came out in a certain formation/motion etc., the players were to change the defensive call to something else. My conclusion is all of this got real complicated real fast, especially with all the stunting from Ohio State.

And when the Buckeyes had busts upfront they they have another issue. They play tons of man in the secondary, meaning the secondary is going to be focusing on the WRs and are going to be late supporting the run.

All of these situations were recipes for disaster.

Ultimately, Ryan Day decided it was best to go elsewhere to solve the issues at hand.

Did he make the right decision?

More to come on that.

15 Responses

  1. Meant when stud is completely healed as he played on a partially healed Achilles

  2. Hopefully, the new secondary staff will realize the weak spot in the secondary, the culprit being Arnette. He was caught “biting” so many times with no containnon the outside. Arnette should be on the scout team defense. He is absolutely horrible and a disgrace to all of the ggreat corners that have played at TOSU. Sorry Coombs fans but Arnette was his “favorite” just like that worthless Pete Werner was Urban and Davis’s favorite. He should also be a scout team LB. once stud is completely healed, with Malik and Browningthe outside the LB’s will be solid with Jones, Mitchell and Gant or Hilliard as the twos.

  3. I think Nathan’s article brilliantly illustrates the point- HE can figure out what was wrong, but the COACHES couldn’t! Unbelievable, since they are (were) paid very well to do exactly that. I knew it was going to be a rough ride when I heard fluffery from Meyer, et al about how it was “difficult to change schemes during season” and nonsense like that. It was poor design, poor management, and even a bit of poor starter selection allowed to run rampant. Glad it’s been gutted.

  4. Has nothing to do with speed or talent but all to do with assistants leaving as Urbans teams always struggle until correct assistants came.

  5. Also, where was our so called “elite” speed in running down these other RB’s? Sheffield is on record of being the fastest indoor 60M runner in the HISTORY of OSU track and field? I dont remember seeing him closing the gap on any of these runs or even being in the picture most of the time when this happened???? When was the last time our DB’s were outrun with ease??? NEVER! And to think that some of these guys thought they should leave early for the NFL where everyone has elite speed and technique. There is no way this should ever happen at Ohio St let along to vastly inferior programs in term of talent. It was embarrassing.

    1. Sheffield was usually the field corner, so he’d be on the other side of the field from most of these boundary runs.

  6. after watching the New Orleans Bucks – it amazes me how much talent has been on the roster during the last 5 years – the Buckeyes were supposed to win the inaugural CFP – they were extremely talented. I was perplexed as to why the team especially defensively has come up short and the article highlights what we all saw with the eye test. Maybe the committee saw the same thing. it’s a new day – let’s get back to the Bullets.

  7. Wrong players playing, simple fix. Hopefully new coaches on D will be able to evaluate talent better and have the “best” players on the field

  8. I don’t believe for an instant that the staff was even aware that they were running a VERY poorly designed scheme. Following the TCU game Schiano made the blisteringly suicidal comment that they tried to be “too exotic.” That SCREAMS the obvious. The DC had exactly no clue what he was doing in designing a scheme.

    Clemson runs virtually the same 4-3 under front. Venebles uses various stunts and switches and would never over rotate his linebackers out of edge responsibilities without playing a switch coverage adjustment behind it in real time. If a defense constantly gets rotated in the way Schiano and Davis did 1 of 2 possibilities exist. 1. They don’t know how to design a defensive scheme. 2. They don’t know how to call and adjust that defensive scheme.

    Once or twice a season we might see a player breakdown that leads to getting beat………..on a play. But rarely does it happen several times in a game………..and certainly not a season long calamity. There’s just too much really fine talent on the Ohio State roster for this to have happened more than a single game IF there were competent coaches on that side of the ball. I REFUSE to place the blame on LJ, Taver Johnson, or Alex Grinch, and anyone who does………..isn’t worth the time to call them the idiot they are.

    The linebacker train wreak was 100% the fault of Bill Davis. Glad he’s going back to being a babysitter because he’s nothing remotely similar to being an actual LB coach. Schiano not recognizing the shambles OR being mentally incapable of correcting, tells anyone and everyone that he IS in fact………..a dummy.

    I stand by what I said earlier in the year. Larry Johnson should have cornered Schiano in a room with him and beaten the shit out of him. Schiano’s “exotic” BS made all LJ’s really hard work, and exceptional players look pedestrian at best.

  9. He made the right decision, Nathan. It isn’t even up for debate. Historically this is the worst Ohio State defense in 129 years of football. Worst. EVER! With even an AVERAGE tOSU defense there’s at least a shot at, and probably another National Championship here. Schiano has proven he’s good in a small pond but can’t compete in the big ones. Davis proved he has no clue how to coach linebackers, only plug-and-play them NFL-style. Taver Johnson has been mediocre every stop he’s ever coached, including his 1st time in Columbus. Next year MIGHT not be better, but it would be very hard-pressed to be any worse!

  10. Very good analysis. Lauranitis points out not only did the LBs constantly get tied up in blocks, the were too close to the line.

  11. I’d say the problem is already half-way fixed!

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