Morning Conversational: What Kind of Difference Will North/South Attack Make For OSU DL?

Jonathon Cooper Ohio State Buckeyes

Today’s Topic: What Kind of Difference Will a North/South Attack Make For the Ohio State Defensive Line?

The Ohio State defense has gone through massive schematic changes at both linebacker and in the secondary thanks to a new defensive staff.

The one holdover on that side of the ball from Urban Meyer’s staff is defensive line coach Larry Johnson, but there are also schematic changes happening there.

Johnson and defensive coordinators Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison put their heads together in the winter and pretty quickly decided they wanted the defensive line attacking upfield, rather than slanting and moving side-to-side like they were last year.

How did it go this spring?

“Yeah, you guys can see us out there. It’s a huge change,” senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper said in the spring.

He wasn’t the only one touting the change.

“A big difference,” said sophomore nose tackle Tommy Togiai during spring camp. “We were going side to side. Now we’re really utilizing our pass-rushing ability, our pass rushers. Everybody on the line can get off, everybody is fast, quick. So I feel like going that way, going straight forward is really a big thing for us. Because we’re trying to get the quarterback. We’re not trying to go from side-to-side. So that definitely was a big help in our defense. I feel like our improvement is through the roof. We’re getting sacks left and right. I think that’s really helped us.”

While it is expected to make the Ohio State defensive line more disruptive on every down, it also plays into the Buckeyes’ individual skill sets better.

“I feel like that’s going to make a huge difference,” Cooper said. “I like going forward and taking off off the ball, showing my speed, speed to power, instead of moving lateral so much to where I’m not really getting off the ball, trying to get into gaps rather than just taking off and beating the man in front of me. I feel like it’s going to have a huge impact on my career.”

This spring was a learning process for the Ohio State defensive line — or at least a refresher course.

And as expected, the Buckeyes picked it up just fine.

“We all were just trying to get used to it because we were used to the system last year,” Cooper said. “We had to make sure we came in and had a good system. They laid out the game plan for us. They told us as soon as they got here. We took it and ran with it and obviously it’s been working for us, and we’re just going to stick with it and keep rolling.”

4 Responses

  1. This approach should really make a difference but, like any scheme, it has its weaknesses too. Look for more big plays from such things as draws and screens. But overall, this should be a big difference-maker with the kind of DL talent OSU has. If you want to see the difference that coaching makes, this should serve as a good example. I’m VERY happy to hear this. It’s what Silver Bullets really means.

  2. Schiano’s defense wasn’t bad his first two years, he didn’t suddenly become stupid. Losing the best defender in the nation hurt, slow inexperienced linebackers as well. Then, players not understanding the scheme, and changing it again because they couldn’t pick it up, is always unadvisable.

  3. Was the side-to-side approach solely on Schiano? If so, then he was the main reason for the pedestrian results and play on D.

    1. Pretty much. Larry Johnson has always been a north-south guy. May have been some of Grinch’s influence as well, but probably 95% Schiano.

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