Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BUCKEYES DEFENSE MUST STEP UP AND PREVENT THE BIG PLAYS

Garrett Goebel, left.
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Although Ohio State's defense has only surrendered 13 points per game in their opening two contests of the season, the total yardage and number of big plays by the opposition is quite unsettling to Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer.

The Buckeyes' defense has given up 332 yards per game — in victories over Miami (OH) and Central Florida — with 281 coming through the air. Ohio State has given up 12 pass plays of more than 10 yards through the first two weeks, including five throws of more than 20.

One reason for the opposition's success in the passing game has been the Buckeyes lack of pressure on the quarterback. Ohio State has recorded just three sacks in the first two weeks, something Meyer insists needs to pick up in order to put the kibosh on the big plays.

"We need to stop giving up big plays. That has to stop now," Meyer said. "That's two weeks in a row we are giving up some big plays for a variety of reasons. We need to identify our pass rushers and get some more pressure on the quarterback, which correlates perfectly with pass defense.

"We are just not very productive in those areas right now ... I could list a multitude of reasons and excuses and so on and so forth; we have to get after the quarterback or it's going to be a long year."

So, how does the Buckeyes' coach suggest getting more heat on the passer?

"There's two ways of doing it," Meyer said. "One is defeating a man on a pass rush. I'm going to beat him and rush the quarterback. Or, I'm going to blitz and try to confuse you.

"The answer is? We need to do both, but we don't have four guys right now who can just beat their man."

Meyer admits that it's difficult with Michael Bennett (groin) not in the lineup. It makes it even more daunting of a task when his replacements are all true freshmen.

"Michael Bennett is a guy we counted on," Meyer said. "Bennett, (John) Simon and (Johnathan) Hankins and (Garrett) Goebel. Those are kind of our four guys. And now you're playing with freshmen and some other guys who are getting better out there, but we were kind of counting on (those four starters).

The Buckeyes' boss stated that the freshmen replacements — Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence — are all going to be great players in the future, but right now, they have to get up to speed ... and quickly.

"First of all, they are great, great guys," Meyer said of his freshmen defensive linemen. "They work their tails off and they are talented. There's no issue as far as want and there's no issue as far as them trying hard. It's just freshmen playing defensive line.

"It's going to get better and better and better. But you're going to get many learning issues and production issues. We had some misalignments and it's usually one of those kids that lined up wrong.

"So as they continue, those are three good names that the Buckeye fans are going to like to watch for the next several years. We just have to get them ready sooner."

Of course, Meyer didn't place all of the blame on the defensive front and their lack of a pass rush. He also called out some of his player's concentration-level and work ethic for some of the mishaps.

Meyer recalled a 48-yard run by Central Florida last Saturday as an example ...

"I think it's being lazy," Meyer said. "Sometimes you'll quit looking at the whole entire call. When you get beat on a big play, sometimes it's because that guy ran by you and beat you. Off the top of my head, I don't think that we have had that."

"Travis (Howard) thought we were in a different coverage and they ran, because he didn't finish the coverage call. That's just lazy, lack of discipline, and that's unlike him now because he's been playing with great discipline."

He also pointed out another play when the Knights converted a third-and-long pass play over the top of his secondary.

"Not getting the proper depth. I call that a coverage error," Meyer said. "For example, on third down and 21, they throw it over your head. That's just lack of discipline and maybe lack of game reps. It's our staff's job to get that corrected.

"So it's not guys getting beat. It's lack of discipline and maybe lack of toughness."

MEYER TALKS UP BOBBY KNIGHT ... Legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight will be inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame this weekend.

The former Buckeyes' basketball player and three-time national championship-winning head coach at Indiana is certainly a man that Coach Meyer admires greatly.

Meyer said people can question Knight's techniques all they want, but "The General" motivated and won games doing things the right way.

"I love Coach Knight," Meyer said. "Coach Knight and I are friends. I invited him down to speak to my football team when I was at Florida. We keep in touch.

"Just a coach that everybody has opinions of. I have my own. I think he's a master motivator. He does it the right way. He doesn't cheat. Maybe goes about things a little different but that's not my job to judge.

"I like to judge the character of the guy, and I know one thing ... he does it the right way. I have been impressed with that, and how he graduated players."