BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — During an interview on “The Opening Kickoff” on WNSP-FM 105.5 in Mobile, Alabama, former Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Wommack fielded a question about what he would tell Nick Saban about defending Ohio State in the National Championship game.
Wommack, who is now the head coach at South Alabama, said he was already actually talking with coaches at Alabama about it.
“Those things are taking place. I’m doing my part to help the state of Alabama," he said.
Wommack was the DC for Indiana when the Hoosiers nearly pulled off a win over No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus on Nov. 21.
Indiana's 7-point loss is the closest a team has been to Ohio State this season.
“Ohio State, I played those guys and been on the field with them," Wommack said. "In the coaching world, you always want to hear from guys who have been on the field with the team you’re about to face."
Even though Indiana allowed 42 points to Ohio State, the Hoosiers held the Buckeyes' offense scoreless for the last 27-plus minutes of the game.
Indiana also forced Justin Fields to throw three interceptions and sacked him five times as well.
“Unfortunately, there were eight other sacks where we had him truly wrapped up, and Justin Fields got away from us,” Wommack said. “That’s the challenge when you play a dynamic player like Justin Fields that can do so much."
Fields threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns against the Indiana. Against Clemson last Friday night, Fields threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns.
Indiana was mostly hurt by the Buckeyes' rushing attack in which Master Teague ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
“Anytime you can make an offense one dimensional, those things are going to help,” Wommack said. “I think they have set their run game to compliment their passing game.”
Since the Indiana game, Trey Sermon has become the star back at Ohio State, and he ran for 191 yards against Clemson.
“Think about how aggressive they are pushing the ball down the field,” Wommack said. “If you call first and second down just to stop the run, they’re going to tear you apart. You have to find creative ways to get pressure on the quarterback on what we call ‘base downs.’ Not third down. Not red zone but open-field base downs. That’s what we were able to do in the game and gave us a chance to win, along with stopping the run."
Wommack admits that the strategy sometimes allows holes to open up for the run game, which is what happened to Indiana too many times throughout the game.
Wommack also said Indiana isn't as dynamic up front as Alabama, so the Crimson Tide might have an easier time clogging up the running holes while also handling the pass games.
But any success against Ohio State starts and stops with being able to contain Fields.
“There’s some things like escapability tendencies where he always moves out of the pocket that I want to help make those guys aware of,” Wommack said. “There are some things they can take advantage of moving forward into the game.
“You have to find a way to affect Fields because if they know where you are on the back end from a coverage perspective, those receivers truly are some of the best in the country. They are very similar to what Alabama has."
The National Championship game between Alabama and Ohio State is scheduled for Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
“I love my guys at Indiana,” Wommack said. “We did some great things. The horses at Alabama may be a little different in terms of what they do up front.”