COLUMBUS — With three wide receivers racking up over 100 yards each, there’s no question Ohio State has the ability to run a high-powered passing offense.
But on the other side of the ball, the Buckeye defense presented issues that certainly could get in the way of their goals this season. Their abilities on offense can only take them so far before poor defensive play hands Ohio State a loss — just like on Saturday against Oregon.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but there’s no question that the Ohio State run defense gave Oregon the upper hand throughout the whole game, eventually handing the Buckeyes their first loss at home since Oklahoma in 2017.
After two games, the Ohio State defense has allowed 66 points scored. Oregon comfortably moved the ball on the ground against the Buckeyes, many times, on the same plays where Ohio State missed cracking the linebacker. Of their 505 yards of total offense, 269 were on the ground, the highest rushing total for an Ohio State opponent since Ryan Day took over as the head coach.
During the season opener against Minnesota, where the Gophers rushed for over 200 yards, the Buckeyes rotated a handful of players as a part of figuring out both the best players and best combinations of players with hopes of that providing more clarity. While it may have done that, it also created a lot of confusion among the players on the field who looked slow, confused, and jumbled against Oregon on Saturday.
“I don’t think there’s any question that we have to do things differently going forward,” defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs said. “Obviously the result today is not acceptable. So we have to do things differently, absolutely.”
The defense struggled setting the edge and getting outside on the field, they appeared to be slow, they had challenges reading the field, and could not force a three-and-out. The Buckeyes also did not rack up a single sack and finished with only one tackle for loss. The Ducks easily capitalized off of the holes in the Buckeye defense.
Although Ohio State only gave up one big play, a 77-yard rush by Oregon’s CJ Verdell, the Buckeye defense let the Ducks go 99 yards on a scoring drive. He finished the game with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. The Oregon rushers averaged 7.1 yards per carry.
Ohio State simply had no answer.
“It was a game we were never really in control of,” head coach Ryan Day said. “It felt like they ran the ball, we didn’t do a very good job of running the football and because of that I think they kind of controlled the game.”
Ohio State got stops later in the fourth quarter against the Ducks which shows signs of the Buckeye’s ability to make big plays under pressure, but it wasn’t enough to change the trajectory of the game. It also wasn’t going to erase the numerous mistakes that were already made.
While all players and coaches involved are frustrated with the defensive performance, it’s still early in the season and Coombs assures that the Buckeye defense will improve.
“I love the scheme. I love the players. To have the opportunity to be a football coach at Ohio State in this role is a blessing and I don’t take it lightly,” Coombs said. “I can assure you we will get better.”