Ohio State football: The numbers disagree

The Ohio State Football team still has a shot to make the CFP.Oregon Ducks At Ohio State Buckeyes Football
The Ohio State Football team still has a shot to make the CFP.Oregon Ducks At Ohio State Buckeyes Football /

After the Ohio State football team’s loss to Oregon, a game where his defense once again looked awful, Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs made a promise,

"“I can assure you, we will get better.”"

Coombs says there is nothing wrong with the scheme, but the numbers disagree. In their last four games, they’ve given up an average of 495 yards and 36.5 points per game. Talk is cheap. It is time for major changes in the way this defense operates. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen,

"“The defensive structure that has been in place is one that has been successful and one that people feel comfortable with.”"

If Coombs’ defensive players are comfortable with the system, why do they look so lost? You constantly see players trying to get lined up properly, motion from the offense seems to lead to nothing but confusion, and once the play begins, they look unsure and passive. That doesn’t scream comfortable to me.

There are two things that jump out at me as a microcosm of larger issues. The first is the 77-yard touchdown run by Oregon early in the third quarter. When the Ducks’ tight end went in motion from left to right across the formation, middle linebacker Tommy Eichenberg went with him in obvious man-to-man coverage.

With safety Bryson Shaw aligned outside the right hashmark, this left the middle of the defense wide open. Once the ball carrier, C.J. Verdell, cleared the line of scrimmage he only had to beat Shaw. You’re in a short-yardage situation. Having your middle linebacker vacate to chase the tight end makes no sense at all because there isn’t anyone to fill that gap.

The other thing that speaks to a larger issue for me is the three touchdowns Oregon scored on pretty much the same play. They also ran it for a first down when they had a third and long. The Ducks ran wide to their left into the short side of the field four times and were very successful all four times.

Why? Well, the easy explanation is when the receiver on that side came down to crack on the linebacker, the Ohio State football team’s cornerback did not step up, take over the responsibilities of the linebacker, and become the player responsible for setting the edge of the defense.

This is referred to as crack replace and is a very simple concept. I can understand it happening once, but three more times? Either it is not being dealt with during the game, the player doesn’t understand what he is being told, or it is not being explained for him to understand. Regardless, this is a total coaching failure.

While those two things tell me there is a high discomfort level with this defensive scheme and the way it is being taught, there is a myriad of other problems as well. One of the bigger issues is predictability. It is well known Coombs is very predictable with his calls and rarely does anything to try to confuse a quarterback before the snap by disguising their coverage. This is the biggest reason why Oregon’s offense always seemed one step ahead of the Ohio State football team’s defense.

Making wholesale changes to a scheme in the middle of the season is very difficult because the focus is always preparing for the next opponent. The Buckeyes don’t have an open week until October 16th. If Ryan day decides to force changes, can they survive that long with the defense in its current state?

Tulsa and Akron shouldn’t be much of a problem, but things could get sticky with Rutgers and Maryland. Any offense with even the faintest pulse is going to give this defense problems. Changes must be made, but I’m not convinced that is going to happen.

Next. Ohio State Football: Stroud didn't lose the Oregon game. dark

Coombs is one of the best secondary coaches in the country. His track record of producing first-round draft picks speaks for itself. But, if you believe he’s been nothing short of a disaster as a coordinator, the numbers disagree.