Football

Morning Conversational: How Have the Buckeye LBs Embraced Change?

Al Washington Ohio State Linebackers Coach Buckeyes

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.”

4 Responses

  1. I will know all I need to know about Washington when we roll out our base package…if Borland and Werner are out there then uhhh.

    1. I don’t care who we put out there, so much as what whoever it is DOES when they’re out there. How effective the new scheme is and what use Coach makes of what talent he has available will be a much better indicator than who starts, imo. Think too much emphasis is given in the off-season to who starts anyhow. We have so much talent on this team, I just want the right player put in the right spot to maximize success, every time out.

  2. I agree with Coach Washington. He and the linebackers CAN’T dwell on last year, or the signs of a systemic problem that was pretty evident even in 2017. Wash it away and focus on today because they can’t change the results.

    Every linebacker on the roster was highly regarded Nationally, so, the talent is and was on the roster for much better production.

    Some people I talk with try to brush off Schiano and Davis and Grinch being a major problem without Luke Fickell being there to beat up on. They want to blame the players. Sure there can be misses in recruiting guys, but, the guy who sets the table for the coaches to go recruit is damned good at his job. So if the kids being recruited are as advertised, and the research and vetting of the guys is even just average (it’s actually fantastic), there’s exactly 1 place to point the finger. Scheme. Since it was Grinch and Schiano putting that abortion on the field, it’s them who are at fault and there’s just no dancing around that. But the linebackers being so often misaligned was Davis. Anyone who ever played the game will tell you; no matter what school you’re at you’re going 100% everyday in practice and in games. Players have no interest in making themselves the butt end of jokes or negative publicity, no matter what the venue hosting it.

    I don’t expect little changes here and there. This is Ohio State, and Ohio State and great linebackers are synonymous in the world of college football. I’m expecting to see GREAT linebacker play, not incremental improvements. Too much talent to not expect greatness from that position. Coach Washington is GOING to have these guys playing at a high level, and the guys are going to play hungry and angry to wash away the bitter dregs of 2017 and 2018. I’m expecting thunder and lightening across the middle ground of that defense, and those heavy clouds from the DB’s to be the deluge raining/reigning down catastrophic misery on opponents.

    Yep, I’m expecting the 2019 defense to be mentioned among the best ever to have played in the Scarlet and Gray, and I suspect that’s their goal as well.

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