Football

Jeff Hafley Happy With First Look at Buckeye Defense

Ohio State football Jordan Fuller

The Ohio State defense went into halftime against Florida Atlantic having given up negative 14 yards of total offense, though that’s probably not the proper verbiage.

How does a defense give up negative yardage, after all?

They didn’t allow a loss of 14 yards. They didn’t succumb to the FAU offense and get moved forward 14 yards.

Perhaps the proper way to say it is that the Buckeye defense outgained the Owls by 14 yards in the first half, and any time a team does that, one group of coaches is going to be pretty darn happy.

“Yeah, especially in the first half. I was really proud of those guys,” Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley said after Saturday’s game. “I think the way we ran to the ball, the way we tackled. It looked to me at least from upstairs, like, seven guys running to the ball carrier on every single play. So from that regard, which was probably the thing that I was most anxious about, I’m really proud of those guys. I think they did a good job.”

Florida Atlantic had four drives of positive yardage, four drives of negative yardage, and one drive of absolutely no yardage in that first half. Their final drive of the half went for 15 yards and led to a field goal.

The Buckeye defense was finally as advertised. At least for the first half.

“They played with good fundamentals and techniques,” Hafley said. “They know what they’re doing, their eyes are in the right place. And they’re running to the ball. They showed today that we could do it, especially in that first half.”

The second half was a bit different. Florida Atlantic had drives of 65, 75, and 76 yards, and only went three-and-out once in their five possessions.

What happened?

“Yeah, I think overall in the second half, just kind of felt — and we’ll see when the film starts — that we kind of let our foot off the gas a little bit,” Hafley said. “But we’ll see. We’ll see when we watch the film.”

The Buckeye defense didn’t get too complicated on the day. They mostly went with three linebackers and a Bullet on the afternoon and didn’t dial anything too exotic up on the play sheet.

And once the Buckeyes were up 28-0, any idea of getting more exotic was placed in a lock box and put on the shelf until next week.

“Well, we felt like today, it was the best way to start the game,” Hafley said of playing three linebackers and a Bullet. “And we got up pretty early and we kind of just wanted to stay really simple. And we felt like with it we could win the game, and we didn’t want to get into too many other things today. After the first half, we kind of said, ‘Hey, these guys are doing a good job, let’s just let them go play.’ We didn’t feel like we needed to dive into anything else.”

Florida Atlantic drew up some fixes for the Ohio State defense at the half and put them to good use. Ohio State chose to dance with what brung ’em.

In the end, the Owls made the Buckeyes pay, but also provided the OSU coaches with exactly the kind of lessons they can focus on this week and down the road in practice and in meetings.

“I mean, it’s a good learning moment. You come out like we did, you just got to do it all four quarters, and you got to finish,” Hafley said.

“They showed what they’re capable of, and hopefully we’ll learn from that. You know, I keep saying, you have no preseason game, so you never know what you’re going to get. Now we see it, and now we have stuff to learn from. And usually you take your biggest jump, at least in my experience, between week one and we two. I know it’s kind of cliché, but it’s the truth. So we’ve got to learn from it.”

7 Responses

  1. I’d like to think the statement about improvement from week one to week two is where he’s really going with his thought process. But, I think the improvement will/should come in the players execution and the coaching adjustments. We will have questions answered after Cincy as I don’t expect it to be more than a 20 point game and the starting D will have a lot of time on the field.

  2. OSU’s D basically gave up three long drives to FAU, all in the 2nd half. Over the last 52 minutes of the game OSU was outscored 21-14. We need to ask ourselves, why? Did this interview reveal everything?
    1. Did OSU take the petal off of the metal?
    2. Did we substitute D starters in the 3rd quarter?
    3. Was our D effected by injuries?, so we gave playing time, not to our 2nd, but 3rd string.
    4. Were we holding back to keep Cinncy from seeing plays?
    5. Did FAU make appropriate adjustments?
    Most OSU fans were thrilled for the first 8 minutes, then, became a bit concerned about the rest of the game. To me the answer is all of the above. We heard that FAU’s O is more dynamic than Cinncy’s, but to OSU fans, we hope to see more the first half dynamics, then the 2nd half of any team getting back in the game especially since there was about a 30+ minute scoring drought.

    1. so many logical possibilities, so much to develop, so far to go….

      solid questions, Kurt! Thought Coach Stud’s video elsewhere ref their DL and our OL adjustments was… intriquing.

  3. I’m confused by the attitude and rationalizations Coach Hafley expressed here. IMO they don’t match up well with what i’ve seen & heard from him or Coach Day before. To illustrate:

    When “Florida Atlantic drew up some fixes for the Ohio State defense at the half and put them to good use,”. why did we keep choosing “to dance with what brung ’em”?

    As an opponent adapts during the game, and proves his adaptations are more and more effective [“the Owls made the Buckeyes pay,”] why do we not adapt or “focus” during the game, and assume we need to wait until next week to ‘get film’ or ‘learn lessons’ in “practice and in meetings”?

    Is D1 bigtime football a game like a ‘time out while i get some film & focus next week’? Isn’t it much more like a competitive contest of out-adapting the competition NOW, and seizing and maintaiing/exploiting The Initiative?

    Rationaliztions, like narratives, are inherently dangerous… a Facade for leadership [coaching] attitudinal weaknesses that are invariably fatal as they morph into self-deceptions in the Blind Spot. We just agonizingly lost a GREAT Head Coach over this… right after we just lost another GREAT Head Coach over this!

    IMO we ‘have’ more than sufficient ‘tape’… of our past! We have much to admire and support. But…success is a past result, not a preparation for a competitive now or the future.

    Here we show we also have much to learn about the same ol’ weaknesses, and in a short interview Coach Hafley provided an ominous example of just how fast and simply… we can fall into the same ol’ ruts in our journey.

    “I mean, it’s a good learning moment. You come out like we did, you just got to do it all four quarters, and you got to finish,” Hafley said.

    Did WE ‘do it all 4 quarters’? Did WE… ‘Finish’?

    I doubt ‘doing it all 4 quarters’, and ‘finishing’, means keep doing the same thing over and over… for how does that fit our ‘always getting better’ mantras?

    “They showed what they’re capable of, and hopefully we’ll learn from that.”

    So the Owl hooted now… but we’ll learn about it…next week? This is not to devalue film or lessons learned in the slightest – it IS to recognize that the game now is… NOW… and many adaptations are necessary… NOW.

    ” You know, I keep saying, you have no preseason game, so you never know what you’re going to get. Now we see it, and now we have stuff to learn from.”

    EXACTLY, Coach. NOW you see it… NOW you adapt; er ‘out-adapt’!

    “And usually you take your biggest jump, at least in my experience, between week one and we two. I know it’s kind of cliché, but it’s the truth. So we’ve got to learn from it.”

    Agree, Coach. Cliches and usuallies do not an immediate, overcome attitude make. During the game, the Learning Curve is IN THE GAME.

    IMO Coach Day has put together a terrific staff and adroitly bridged a complex transition. But i don’t see our competitors selling us any time outs or next week lessons… except the carcinogenic variety….

    GO BUCKS.

  4. Dear Ozone editing staff,
    The ads, while obviously necessary to continue bringing is excellent daily content, cover the top line or 2 of every article. Can read the headline, but often miss the hook, entirely. This is when viewed from mobile phone (iOS, current version).
    Never said anything before now, as I assumed you knew, but then if you knew, it would have been fixed.

    Regards

    1. Us* I guess maybe I should just get a new phone. 🙂

    2. Michael — we are looking into it. In the meantime, when you open a post and you can’t see the top, simply tilt your phone to horizontal, then back to vertical and everything should be available to you.

Comments are closed.