Ohio State’s New Defense Shines in First Game

Ohio State football Jashon Cornell

COLUMBUS — This entire offseason, Ohio State’s coaching staff and players talked about the changes on the defensive side of the ball. The new defensive staff highlighted the need to get their guys playing fast and simple.

But some of the biggest questions coming into Ohio State’s home opener were about what the new defense would look like and how effective it would be.

Saturday was not only the first test for the new Buckeye defense, but it was also their first chance of showcasing all of the changes on the defensive side of the ball.

From kickoff, it was evident that Ohio State’s defense came out with something to prove.

At halftime, FAU had negative 14 yards of total offense. Owls quarterback Chris Robison completed 8 of 12 pass attempts for just 10 yards in the first half.

For head coach Ryan Day, his defense did exactly what he wanted them to do.

“What I was looking for was guys running to the ball and hitting. I felt that,” Day said, “I was watching Pete Werner and Malik Harrison and Jeff Okudah come into the ball and you could feel the violence on the field. That’s what we want. We want that toughness. And I felt that. I felt those guys flying around. And it was, to me it was intimidating. It was downhill, it was what we want.”

Last year, the defense was a weak point for the Buckeyes. They were ranked 71st in the FBS in total defense, giving up an average of 403.4 yards per game. Ohio State gave up big plays in nearly every game last season. In total, the Buckeyes gave up seven plays that were over 70 yards.

In the home opener last season against Oregon State, the Buckeyes gave up an 80-yard touchdown run. The largest play Ohio State gave up against Florida Atlantic was a 38-yard reception.

On Saturday while the game was still in doubt, there were hardly any weak points in Ohio State’s defense. The defensive line was getting to the quarterback, there were multiple linebackers making tackles, and the secondary was staying on the ball.

“They didn’t do a whole lot of different things. They basically played cover-three and some cover-one. Very rarely did they pressure, I’m sure they looked at it and said they didn’t need to and they gave you problems,” Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin said after the game.

“That’s a great front, especially the defensive end. They were really fast in the perimeter plays. You know when you play guys like this you’re going to struggle inside trying to get the ball outside and we were having negative play after negative play in the first half because those guys can really run. They looked fresh, they looked fast and to me they looked a lot better than they did a year ago on defense.”

Junior defensive end Chase Young, senior linebacker Malik Harrison, senior defensive end Jashon Cornell, and senior defense tackle Robert Landers all recorded sacks.

Senior safety Jordan Fuller led the Buckeyes with seven tackles. Cornell set a career high with two tackles-for-loss and Harrison tied his career-best with two tackles-for-loss.

Sophomore safety Josh Proctor’s snagged his first career interception in the fourth quarter of the game.

Although the Owls finished with 228 yards of total offense, the majority of those yards were picked up late in the second half of the game. The Buckeyes were able to successfully stop the FAU run game, leaving the Owls with just 22 rushing yards.

“Anytime you score 45 points or you hold the team to negative rushing yards, I’m not sure how long that was, but it was maybe the end of the third quarter, it was negative rushing yards into the third quarter,” Day said. “That’s something to be proud of.”

12 Responses

  1. I thought the D played pretty good for the most part the LBs already looked better from last year thanks to the simplicity of this D it was very encouraging to them flying to the football and tackling well yeah we gave up a little bit of passing yards here and there but it is the first game and I know FAU isn’t a great team but they are from Florida and there are a lot of athletes on that team I promise you that and as far as Cincinnati goes I seen them and their offense isn’t all that great we will be just fine

  2. Sorry – they had no problem in the 2nd 3rd and 4th moving the ball on our #1’s – at all. We’ll find out next week who is wearing rose colored glasses. Also, FAU is not a crappy team they were made out to be. They have players that will play on Sunday – both sides of the ball.

  3. I watched college football all weekend, and the one thing that stood out was that NO ONE looked good this week unless you’re Clemson. I wouldn’t get your panties in a wad over yesterday’s game. They were far from perfect, but they weren’t horrible either. If you expected perfection going into yesterday’s game then you are just setting up yourself for misery for the year. Ohio State put the game away with 7 minutes to go in the first f’ing quarter. Some could say they took their foot off the gas, and you could also say FAU adjusted completely. I’d say both are true. Lot’s to work on as penalties stalled drives, and the o-line stopped blocking, but the game was never in question… ever!

  4. People are drawing negative conclusions after a game Ohio State won by 24 points and FAU got much of its yardage and last score against a defensive secondary of backup players. The Buckeyes were rotating bodies in and out of the game as early as the first quarter in order to allow players to compete for starting spots during live action. The OSU D very rarely had its absolute “best 11” on the field for a long period of time.

    And with all that being said, the Buckeyes’ “starting D” held a team to well under 200 yards of offense, which is an outstanding accomplishment in today’s world of high-scoring college football. FAU got a bunch of yards and at least one TD in junk time.

    I thought the trio of Werner, Harrison and Browning were physical and played fast. With the simplified defense, Browning finally looks like that highly-rated talent from Texas we all thought he would become at OSU.

    My concern lies way more with the offense than defense. This defense is going to give Cincinnati fits next week. I don’t know if we can say the same about the offense, which I believe is going to struggle to score points…..hope I am wrong.

    One final note, I wouldn’t be too down on a 24-point victory over FAU until we know better what type of team they are. If they end the season 10-2 or 9-3, maybe this wasn’t such a “bad win.”

  5. I have to agree with James. They made some good plays and FAU outplayed them for most of the game. Against Clemson they lose by 30. Look out next Saturday. Cincinnati can play. Put down the crack pipes and get ready for another long season of “WTF are the doing”.

  6. Wow! You guys are so spoiled! It’s not enough to win; they have to win by 50 or it’s a failure? I thought they looked great! I was only disappointed in their let down after they got the big lead. I’m not a fan of the zone defense. I can see a bend but don’t break defense throughout the year.

  7. After the first quarter they began attacking our run game, what was with the play calling? Running wide into their D for little or no gain followed by a punt – putting our D back on to the field. The reads on running plays were mostly weak. Our defense failed to adjust to the quick passing game into the seams of our zone. Lots to work on. Gave up too many points (outscored after the first quarter) and pretty much sputtered on offense after scoring a quick 28 points. My grade is a C after an A+ first quarter.

  8. Try again w/out the Scarlett and Gray glasses Caroline. LBs still weak

  9. Picked up most of those yards late in the second half? HUH………

    1. Ya with the second and third string defense in. Did u not watch the game?

      1. Duh..yeah, I was at the game. Already with the retarded ass excuses for failures to execute against a tin can……..made of tissue this aluminum foil. Ohio States practice squad should beat FAU by 50.

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