Game Observations: Ohio State's Defense vs. Tulsa

Here are my initial thoughts in watching Ohio State's defensive performance this afternoon.
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First and foremost, Ryan Day promised all week that things were going to look differently than they did last week on this side of the ball. The most obvious change? Defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs is up in the booth instead of his typical spot on the sidelines.

Instead, secondary coach Matt Barnes was on the sideline and called the defense today. Linebackers coach Al Washington and defensive line coach Larry Johnson also remained on the sidelines.

On one hand, today's performance felt a little bit better than last week's. Ohio State didn't allow any plays of more than 40 yards and only two plays longer than 30 yards. But in a lot of ways the game felt like death by 1,000 paper cuts. Davis Brin threw for 428 yards and they still managed 501 yards of total offense. That's unacceptable, especially against a mid-major team. It was enough to win, but it was far from an inspiring performance.

WATCH: Instant Analysis from Ohio State's Win Over Tulsa

Cameron Martinez didn't play at all during the Buckeyes first two games of the season, but he got some early work at slot corner and played frequently throughout the day. Of course, his game-sealing pick-6 was one of the best highlights of the day.

With Zach Harrison unavailable for the Buckeyes today, freshmen pass rushers J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer both got an awful lot of run. JTT played a great game and I thought Sawyer continued to look really good. Sawyer hasn't come up with a sack yet, but he's been a nightmare to block these first couple weeks.

At the linebacker spot, Palaie Gaoteote made a touchdown saving tackle to hold Tulsa to an early short field goal on its first drive down the field. That was probably his best play as a Buckeye so far. I also liked what I saw from Cody Simon today, who played next to Tommy Eichenberg most of the game.

I think freshman defensive tackle Tyliek Williams may have had the biggest non-scoring play of the day. He registered a huge sack with 7:18 to go in the 4th quarter, dropping Tulsa back 17 yards. That was a major momentum swinging play.

This group has some serious work to do, but in general, I suppose today was a step in the right direction.

If you're interested, here are my offensive observations from today's game.


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