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Ohio State Football Defensive Grades vs. Oregon

On a pretty tough day for the Silver Bullets, here's what we thought of the Buckeyes' defense during their home-opener against the Ducks.

A tough day in the Shoe for the Buckeyes as 4th down execution and lack of defensive stops led to a 35-28 upset at the hands of the Oregon Ducks. In Ryan Day’s first regular season loss, Ohio State was exposed from a schematic and personnel standpoint. There was some good, some bad, and some tremendously ugly.

As far as how to interpret the following grades:

Grading Key

  • A: National Championship-level play ... dominates the opponent and executes at the highest level.
  • B: Big Ten Championship-level play ... consistently beats opponents, but leaves a few areas to grow.
  • C: Bowl Eligble-level play ... does enough to win in a close game to just get bye. Needs to improve quickly.
  • D: Home for the Holidays-level play ... Exposed multiple times and a major liability to the greater whole.
  • F: Losing-level play ... unit was dominated in many facets of the game and is a major detriment to success. Major changes needed immediately.

If you missed our offensive grades, check those out here. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a positional breakdown of how Ohio State offense fared against the Ducks. And for a film breakdown of 13 different plays from this past weekend, click here.

Defensive Line: D+

Yielding 7.1 yards a carry and no sacks is a bad elixir for success. The defensive line was nonexistent and it got pushed around at home. Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith both struggled as the Oregon attack of reading and going right at them, kept them in disarray all day. Larry Johnson is the highest paid defensive line coach in the country and has his work cut out for him. Expect this group to right the ship going forward.

Linebackers: D+

A cut and paste from last week would be apropos. A lack of fundamentals, led to an inability to tackle and keep Oregon from dominating through the air and on the ground. The group is still hunting to discover itself amidst a three game stretch, dating back to last season that hasn’t yielded consistent play that the Buckeye faithful have become accustomed to. Palaie Gaoteote IV can only add value to the room and some much needed tackling help. Improved linebacker play is essential to rectifying the problems OSU has experienced on defense.

Safeties: F

The position was a problem a week ago ... it was detrimental Saturday. Oregon had a tremendous plan that isolated the safeties in the run and pass game. The 1x3 sets (Placing the strength of the formation into the boundary {1} and the remaining {3} skill players to the field with the mindset that it forces the defensive secondary to set unconventionally to the aforementioned front) were an issue in both the run and passing attack.

1x3 formation diagram

Ohio State had no answer schematically or from a personnel standpoint. Schematically, it will be addressed this week in practice and going forward. The question who will we see starting back there next week against Tulsa?

Cornerbacks: B

We break the secondary up this week to celebrate the growth of the corners. Denzel Burke is going to be special. Cameron Brown stepped up and the silver lining of the once vaunted defense of Ohio State was the ability to play in man coverage. This group will be allowed to play more man, as the staff grows confidence in the linebackers and safeties to do the same. This a strength that the Buckeyes can build on as they fix the problems around this group on defense.


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Kerry Coombs Takes Responsibility For Ohio State's Defensive Struggles In Loss

Oregon Carves Up Buckeye Defense In Shootout to Upset No. 3 Ohio State

Game Observations: Ohio State Defense Struggles vs. Oregon

Game Observations: Ohio State Offense Thrives In Loss to Oregon


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