Ohio State football: Faster, Faster, Faster

As I watched Monday night’s national championship game and hoping the field would split open and swallow both teams, I did come to one conclusion: the Ohio State football team needs to get faster on defense. Faster, faster, FASTER.

The defenses of both Georgia and Alabama absolutely flew around the field. They made it nearly impossible to run the ball and combined to sack the quarterbacks nine times. Each quarterback seemed to have someone in their face every time they tried to throw.

Both interceptions thrown by Alabama’s Bryce Young were the result of pressure being in his face. The Buckeyes rarely disrupted a quarterback in 2021 and as a result made guys like Penn State’s Sean Clifford look far better than what they are. Quarterbacks had all day to throw against OSU.

Each team used creative blitzes that confused the blocking schemes and led to defenders charging into the backfield virtually untouched. Georgia did a great job of utilizing blitzes that brought two players through the same gap. The first player would go immediately, the next would loop around a defensive lineman or come from the edge into the same gap. Why did this work? Because they had the speed to do it.

Both of those teams have the kind of speed in their front seven that the Buckeyes’ defense does not possess. I most certainly think the Ohio State football team will be faster in 2022. As fast as Alabama and Georgia? No, not yet. I don’t see an improvement like that in less than eight months. I do expect new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to have them playing faster-reading keys quicker, filling gaps sooner (and correctly).

There is one play that really jumped out and illustrates the type of speed I’m talking about here. In the second quarter and with Alabama deep in Georgia territory, the Bulldogs used inside linebacker Channing Tindall as a spy around the line of scrimmage to keep Young from running all over the place as he did in their previous meeting.

On third and goal, the Tide quarterback took the shotgun snap and dropped a few steps while Tindall watched. When Young began to run to his right, Tindall took off after him, blew by a would-be blocker, got to the ball, and had Young on the turf before he could react.

It was as impressive of a display of speed on defense as I’ve seen all season (you can watch that play here by going to just about the four-minute mark of the video). That’s the kind of speed the Buckeyes need.

The Ohio State defense has had this kind of speed before. We all saw it in 2015. They need to strive to get back to that level again. Faster, faster, FASTER.