Ohio State earned its best win of the season last weekend, 42-35 over the then-No. 9 ranked Indiana Hoosiers. But it was a win that left some fans feeling frustrated because the Buckeyes had a 35-7 lead early in the third quarter.
Hoosiers' quarterback Michael Penix threw for 491 yards and five scores as he carved up the OSU defense. So far in 2020, the defense has been significantly less dominant than it was last fall.
FOX college football analyst Joel Klatt appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd this week and he broke down why he thinks the Buckeyes defense has struggled at times in 2020.
“You have to understand that last year this defense and this team was basically invented by Jeff Hafley, who’s now the head coach at Boston College,” Klatt said. “And it was a scheme that in large part was a built in order to allow great players to be great. We’re just gonna line up and let them run and make plays and be really good, minimize explosives.
“He thought the more times he forced a team to snap the football the better his chances are of Chase Young making a play or Jeff Okudah making a play or Damon Arnette making a play. All first-round draft picks, the two corners and the defensive end. And by the way, that worked. They played with one safety, Jordan Fuller, who picked off Tom Brady (Monday night) I think twice. He’s a great player and so he’s the free safety last year and then they put three corners on the field: Shaun Wade, likely a first-round pick who’s still there and then two first-rounders Arnette and Okudah.
"You put those corners on the field and then you let Chase Young, maybe the best pass-rusher we’ve seen in college football in a long time, up there up front and you’re gonna minimize explosive plays and you’re gonna dominate.”
“Last week alone they gave up four plays of 50 or more yards, four of them. Last year they only gave up one of those plays in the whole season,” Klatt said. “On all four plays there was a four-man rush that did not get home. You cannot underestimate the power of what Chase Young brought to that defense last year. You could not sit there in the pocket and put the ball downfield. They had missed assignments all over in the back end. I think you saw a team playing their fourth game with a lot of new players in the back end and they didn’t have an excellent pass-rusher up front. I think that’s really what’s wrong with them right now.”
The Buckeyes will try to tighten things up on Saturday afternoon against Illinois. The team has unconfirmed reports of multiple CoVID cases going through the team, but they practiced Wednesday and Thursday this week and they're schedule to travel to Champaign on Friday ahead of Saturday's game.
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