Indiana Defense Expects to Take Advantage of Ohio State’s Offense

Justin Fields Ohio State Buckeyes Quarterback

The Ohio State offense has not gotten off to the same start it did a year ago when the Buckeyes were averaging 64.5 points and 650 yards of total offense after the first two games.

But that doesn’t mean things are on the downswing.

Ohio State is currently averaging 43.5 points per game and 488.5 yards of total offense. They have the most balanced offense in the Big Ten, with 51.9% of their offense coming from the running game and 48.1% coming through the air.

There are currently three Buckeyes with 100 yards rushing and two over 100 yards receiving. Seven different players have scored touchdowns in two games.

These are all numbers that pose problems for opposing coaches, but Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Wommack has seen some things that make him think his Hoosier defense will be up to the task, and most of it centers around new Buckeye starting quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields has not yet looked like Ohio State’s weak spot, as he is currently completing 76.0% of his passes and sitting at second in the Big Ten’s pass efficiency rankings. He has also added 103 yards rushing in two games and only three players in the conference have more rushing touchdowns than he does (3).

Indiana’s defense held Eastern Illinois quarterback Johnathan Brantley’s mobility in check last week, allowing him just nine rushing yards. But this Saturday is a different challenge altogether.

This is the biggest start of Fields’ career. This will be the best defense he’s faced and it will be his first time starting on the road. There are a number of reasons for him to have concerns, but now with two starts under his belt, his confidence grows by the day.

The Hoosiers definitely understand the problems that Fields poses, and yet they see some problems that they will pose for him as well.

“I think for what we do defensively we’ve always had to deal with that,” Wommack said of Fields’ ability to run. “We’ve always had to build ourselves schematically around stopping the quarterback run game. I think they do some nice things in taking care of their quarterback and at the same time, getting him in some one-on-one matchups. They do a nice job of that.

“From our perspective, there’s some things that we feel like we’re probably going to be able to take advantage of. And frankly, every time that guy has his hands on the ball, we’re going to try to get some pretty good shots on him.”

Fields and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day understand the need to avoid unnecessary physical contact, and so far the sophomore quarterback has done a good job of avoiding getting hit hard while he is running the ball. Fields has, however, taken some shots in the passing game, which is another area where Wommack feels good about his defense’s opportunities this weekend.

“They’re really aggressive in their play-action game with shots downfield,” he said. “I think they do a really nice job of trying to force you to get downhill and to create some one-on-one matchups. Obviously, there’s probably some things that they probably leave at risk by doing that. We’ve got to take advantage of those things, and I think we will.”

9 Responses

  1. Tony, Just out of curiosity, is it correct to assume that really great teams’ O and D coordinators help each other identify their own tendencies and weaknesses in order to prepare for and anticipate the opposing teams game plans? Would arrogance for the lack of or inefficiency of this process be one of the reasons OSU has lost unexpected games the past two years? Is there reason to hope that Day’s staff will prepare differently to avoid this? Go Bucks!

    1. Buckeyedad — Yep, and with so many staffers now, they are tasked with self-scouting. But that’s also tough during game weeks. It usually gets done during an open week. With two open weeks this year, there will be more self scouting this year.

  2. So, Indiana’s 32 year old D-Coordinator is that much better than Luke Fickell’s D? The same D that beat a Power 5 opponent (not that UCLA are world beaters but they still have more talent than Eastern Illinois) and the same guy who won a Natty as the D-coordinator for the* Ohio State University Buckeyes? I’ll take that challenge any Day. Bring on the stockings! *not trademarked

  3. All the Indiana message boards have them shocking the world, and beating Ohio State. Pretty bold for a program that hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 1988 as well as only twice total since 1951. Time to shut up the IU Hoosiers once and for all. Prediction: Ohio State 63 IU 14 Final

  4. 9/11 Perspective:

    Expect extremists who are offensively for themselves by any means, to use all means and laws against American legal defenses and universal morals such as honesty. It’s a continuing competition of values, ideas, and pragmatism for all that Americans are obligated and free to further… not fairness or agreement or domination.

    But… NEVER…

    Elect a violent or deceptive extremist to an umpire position to enforce the rules… any more than you would empower the prosecutor to represent the defendant in a trial.

  5. Wow! If I were the D-coordinator of a team that decidedly has , on paper at least, less talent than my next opponent, I wouldn’t say anything, and just prepare the D the best I know how. Not a good idea to motivate the opponent and more than they will already be. I would think this will be a learning experience that he needed to take advantage of the one thing his D may have in their favor: the Buckeyes may be taking the Hoosiers too lightly, hence letting the “sleeping dogs lie.” This type of spouting off will not help their cause.

  6. It’s never wise to give Bulletin Board material to a 16 point favorite that is much more talented than you are. And even though you are home, many expect more OSU fans than Hoosier Fans.

  7. He has a lot of confidence for a 32-year old DC. He’ll learn on Saturday that he’s not playing Ball St. or Eastern Illinois.

  8. agree risk/reward calculations should be situational & matchup, not which stats we or our opponent likes or cites…

    helpful focus in this article for a ‘student of the game’.

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