Today’s Topic: How Have the Buckeye Linebackers Embraced Change?
Last year was not a great one for the Ohio State defense.
The 25.5 points per game allowed was the most of the Urban Meyer era. In fact, it was the most in school history, besting the old worst of 24.7 points per game set by the 1989 team.
Yes, offenses have changed, and OSU’s own up-tempo attack invites more scoring from the opposition, but a school record is still a school record.
Much of the blame was placed on defensive coordinator Greg Schiano’s system, which seemed to overly complicate what the defense was asked to do from down to down.
Blame also fell on the Buckeye linebackers, who had more fingers pointed at them than they needed.
Schiano and his defense are now gone, but those same linebackers remain. To say they are hungry for success would be an understatement.
With a new defense and a new linebackers coach in Al Washington, the OSU linebackers are getting a second chance to leave the right kind of legacy.
“They’ve been incredible, and I’m not just saying that,” Washington said this spring. “They’ve bought in. They’re growth-minded. They want to learn more. They want to do more. They’ve been enthusiastic about it. And their culture is right. Listen, Coach [Mickey] Marotti, that guy, he’s amazing. The culture is right, and when that’s right, guys usually fall in line. So that is my take away from it.”
The linebackers heard the criticism last season. They read it on websites and had it jammed into their phones via social media.
If anybody was ready for a change on this Ohio State defense, it was those guys, and Washington has seen evidence of that every single day.
“They have bought in and gone to work,” he said. “Everything is new because you’ve got a new scheme, right? So I think that’s tied into it, but there’s no resistance. If they make a mistake, they are very rarely making it twice. I think they have taken to it. I don’t know if that answers your question, but I try to focus on the stuff that matters, which is what they’re doing now, or fixing what they’re doing, or encouraging them. That type of deal. I think they’ve been doing well with that adjustment.”
For Washington, he was barely hired before he heard the critics regarding last year’s linebackers. He doesn’t pay it much mind, however, because looking backward is no way to move forward.
“Last year, the criticism, we lost one game,” he said. “Everybody’s got stuff to improve on, so I don’t really give that much thought to be honest.”