Ohio State Football: Defensive play-calling was better

Ohio State coach Ryan Day cheers on his defense.Tulsa At Ohio State Football
Ohio State coach Ryan Day cheers on his defense.Tulsa At Ohio State Football /

The Ohio State football team made some changes on the defensive end against Tulsa. Kerry Coombs, Ohio State’s Defensive Coordinator, moved to the press box, and Matt Barnes, the Secondary coach, moved to the field. Instead of Coombs calling the plays as usual, Barnes got a  shot at calling plays.

Ohio State’s defense over the last handful of years under Ryan Day has always been a 4-3 defense with one safety high and a lot of man-to-man coverage. Against Tulsa, more two safety high was used along with more zone coverage.

With Barnes calling the plays, the run defense did look much-improved allowing 73 rushing yards on 28 attempts, which is 2.6 yards per run. OSU defenders were more disciplined and decisive against the run.

Ohio State’s plan to stop the run gets some of the credit as well. Let’s take a look at what the Buckeyes implemented to halt the run.

The Ohio State football team used crossfire blitzes to stop the run

As mentioned, Barnes changed quite a bit in defensive play-calling this weekend, most of which is for the better. According to Kyle Jones of Eleven Warriors, OSU was using a zone concept to stop the run.

Barnes was consistently calling a crossfire blitz to stuff the run against Tulsa. Crossfire blitzing is basically when the two inside linebackers are sent on a blitz up the middle of the defense, the blitzing linebackers also cross to separate gaps in the line. The problem with using a crossfire blitz to stop the run is what about the threat of a run-pass option (RPO)?

Barnes answered this threat by deploying a zone in coverage. Both cornerbacks and the free safety would play three deep zone while the cover safety and bullet played zone underneath. This basically kept everything in front of the defense.

Throughout the game, Tulsa primarily ran the ball when given this look. This could be a nice look Ohio State’s defense consistently uses throughout the season to combat the RPO threat. Anyone that closely follows college football knows how relevant the RPO has become in recent seasons, they are tricky to slow down.

Between the crossfire blitzes and players being more disciplined, the Buckeye run defense looked a lot better. Improving anything on the defensive end right now is a positive no matter what.

In the same breath, the passing defense is obviously a problem after giving up a season-high 428 yards through the air versus Tulsa. There’s room for improvement in Ohio State’s passing defense though since cornerback play has been solid at times.

Next. OSU still playing too many players on defense. dark

The Ohio State football team still has some time to address issues on the defense with some lackluster opponents upcoming.