Ohio State Football: Communication in secondary is next step

The Ohio State Football team does do a good job of forcing interceptions.Tulsa At Ohio State Football
The Ohio State Football team does do a good job of forcing interceptions.Tulsa At Ohio State Football /

The Ohio State football team’s secondary has not been tested as much as usual this season since the run defense has struggled. The run defense finally stood up to Tulsa last week, but then the passing defense gave up 428 passing yards and 31 completions.

While the passing defense is definitely a concern after last game, there’s room for improvement. This is credited to improved cornerback play this season, man-to-man coverage has been better.

It has become pretty obvious the best unit on defense is the cornerback room. The true freshman Denzel Burke continues to impress and Cameron Brown has looked good off his Achilles injury. In addition, the redshirt Freshman cover safety Cameron Martinez had one heck of a game in Week 3. There are capable cornerbacks in man coverage right now for Ohio State. This is something that can be built on without a doubt.

The cornerbacks are not perfect by any means, they need to get better in several areas. The framework is there though, they have shown a lot of potential, especially Burke. So what exactly went wrong in the passing defense against Tulsa?

Ohio State football’s secondary struggled to communicate vs. Tulsa

Where Tulsa really picked apart Ohio State’s passing defense was on rub routes and bunch concepts. In order for future opponents to not do the same, the communication in the secondary has to get better. The cornerbacks have shown they are capable in simple man coverage, but the bunch concepts wrecked them for most of the second half.

Here is just one of many times where the secondary was beaten on a pick play.

Notice how Tulsa lines up in a bunch formation, then one receiver goes on a crossing route over the middle of the field wide-open. This was all set up by a receiver effectively setting a “pick” in coverage. This pick took out two of OSU’s defensive backs and left the receiver all by himself.

Tulsa scored on another play utilizing a pick.

Really this is the same exact concept. You can see once again there’s a bunch formation. The receiver initially lines up in the slot with the Ohio State football team playing man coverage. The corner then gets basically lost from another pick. Again, this is solved with better communication.

This is all easier said than done, and all the problems on Saturday were not just against bunch formations. Some zone coverage at times was too soft, it felt like the Buckeyes were playing a bend but don’t break style sometimes when they dropped back into zone coverage.

With the said, the passing defense will become a lot better if the secondary communicates better in these situations. Ohio State’s staff knows the bunch formations exposed them, it will be addressed. Other teams are going to try the same concept since it made Ohio State look so vulnerable.

As far as the corners, getting better against pick plays and bunches will make their man coverage pretty good, maybe even above-average. How the secondary plays against future pick plays will be something to keep an eye on.

Next. Ohio State Football: The Manassas Mauler. dark

The Ohio State football team’s defense still has a lot of work to do. The Buckeyes’ cornerback play has some potential for this season, cleaning up against bunch formations will make them a lot better.