Football

Defensive Struggles Continue as Buckeyes Lose the Ground War Against Oregon

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.”

12 Responses

  1. Top Ten take aways:
    1. Surprised that OR ran the ball on us.
    2. Very surprised that we couldn’t run the ball on OR.
    3. Surprised that OR scored 35 points on us.
    4. Very surprised that OSU only mustered 28 pts.
    5. Pleasantly surprised at the play of our QB and db’s.
    6. Surprised by our predictable, vanilla D front 7 and their lack of creativity.
    7. Surprised that we lost that game w/o OR’s best two D players on the bench.
    8. Very surprised that both of our lines didn’t dominate.
    9. Surprised that we gained over 600 yards of O in a loss.
    10. Very surprised that Day isn’t looking for a new D coordinator, with virtually 7 weeks to retool until we face a similar opponent.

  2. I thought what was amazing is the path taken by our linebackers and defensive end on those end arounds. They seemed to stand there and make sure the runner didn’t cutback to the middle until he was past them to the outside. Someone has to set the edge, but I suspect our defensive coaches didn’t see it that way!

  3. The play calling on offense was very immature… which has been a repeated issue for Day. Case in point, 4th qtr, down 7, 3:45 to go, ball at the 50 yd line… we pass on 4 straight downs as if we needed to score in on play. Moreover, the series before we got to the 50 by running the ball. There was plenty of time. It was 4 down territory. So why not run on first and shorten the chains? 2nd & 6 or even 7 is your friend in that situation (Especially with a young QB). If you get 3 or 4 yards you have 3 more downs to get 6 or 7 yards. Very high odds. Instead, we are passing for the end zone like its 15 seconds left. Ultimately, we took a sack and turned a possible 2nd and manageable to 2nd & 18… and well, the Freshman QB did what you would expect the next 3 plays. This sort of immature play calling plagued us all day.

    I won’t comment on the defense other than to say its odd that guys like Shaw and Eichenberg continue to start because they allegedly “get our guys lined up out there”. WTF? Really? That’s why they start notwithstanding their terrible performance? If your best players are young guys you gotta have the courage to play them… Tyreke Smith, Cameron Brown, Tyron Vincent, etc…why do they still play?

    1. Chris Perry, great post and great points. Shaw was responsible himself for 3 TDs. Go take a look at the 77 yd run by Oregon and just watch Shaw. That was not only pathetic, that shows me he cant play at this level. Im not sure he would start in the MAC

  4. Whenever a coach answers criticism by saying, “I like our scheme we just need to execute better,” consider it the kiss of death and know it’s going to be a long year with no adjustments and improvement.

  5. Buckeyes are now like the Big12,all offense and no defense,they will have to score 40+ points a game to win!Better wake up or you are going to Outback Bowl!

  6. Can’t say we didn’t see this coming! Coach Combs was a good defensive back coach, his first go around with the Bucks, but I said last year that he was over his head as a defensive coordinator, and still is. And I didn’t like the idea of promoting within by Day, instead of bringing in top coaching talent, after some of the very good defensive coaches we lost, like Jeff Hafley. And why not go after Chris Ash, when he was available last season? So we get Barnes promoted to the defense, then we bring in a LB coach a year ago from the TUN who we have been beating consistently, what’s up with that. Day has created more of a mess with the defense, than what he has fixed. Then the defense puts more pressure on an offense, where the O-line looks strong but slow to me, and a young QB who, seems very hesitant to run with the ball with any conviction. I thought he was more of a dual threat QB, but he makes a mess of the zone read, and doesn’t like to get hit in my opinion. The bottom line is all the talent that has been recruited are not playing up to their potential, and some of that is due to the coaching. As to the coaching, either shape up, or get shipped out.

  7. Coombs needs to go, period. Giving up an average of 33 points/game (39 if you count the Alabama game) is totally unacceptable for an OSU team.

  8. Offense wins games defense wins championships

    Our run defense was terrible. Was passing defense any better? Not really.

    “I love the scheme.” Think twice.

  9. the defense was horrible. the d line was lost all day. where is the speed in the back 7. OREGON PLAYED AT WILL WHAT EVER THEY WANTED. SCORED TOUCHDOWNS ON THE SAME PLAY OVER AND OVER. TRIED TO RUN UP THE MIDDLE ALL DAY FOR 2 YARDS AT A TIME. HAVING TO TURN THE BALL OVER ON DOWNS WITH SHORT YARDAGE IS A SHAME. POOR PLAY CALLING THE WHOLE GAME. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BUCKS. GAME PLAN DIDN’T WORK, YOU NEED TO CHANGE UP. o COULDN’T BELIEVE WHAT I WAS WATCHING. GONNA BE A LONG SEASON. A CRITICAL LOSS.

  10. Coombs “loves the scheme”? Really? Dumbest thing I’ve heard all week.

  11. This is the second time in the last three games that we could not stop the same play over and over again on defense. I know we could not have beat Alabama anyway but our offense did get going against Oregon and we could have beat them.

    I love Coombs energy but we need a new defensive coordinator.
    Plus who is coaching Shaw at safety ? I know he is only on the field because Proctor is injured but he is totally clueless.

    What is wrong with our d line ? We use to always be able to count on our d line.

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