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Scouting Report: Buckeyes Gearing Up For Solid Michigan Defense

The Wolverines have a top-10 defense nationally, limiting teams to just over 300 yards per game and barely more than 16 points per contest.

The Ohio State offense hasn't seen an defense quite like this one yet this season. The Wolverines have a top-10 defense in the country and they can really put pressure on the quarterback. Here's what to keep your eyes on tomorrow afternoon in Ann Arbor as it pertains to the Maize and Blue defense.

Michigan Defensive Scouting Report

Defensive Coordinator: Mike MacDonald, 1st Season

Key Players: DE Aiden Hutchinson, LB David Ojabo, LB Josh Ross, S Daxton Hill, LB, Junior Colson, S Brad Hawkins

Defensive Stats

Average Total Points Allowed Per Game: 16.27

Average Total Yards Allowed Per Game: 306.1

Average Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 127.7

Average Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 178.4

What to Look For

The Wolverine defense is ranked 9th in total defense, 7th in scoring defense and 8th in pass defense. For those who enjoy the “chess match” between coordinators, this game will be a fun one to watch. First year defensive coordinator, Mike MacDonald came to Ann Arbor from the Baltimore Ravens where he worked with John Harbaugh and has installed a different type of defense than in years’ past. MacDonald uses multiple looks up front and different coverage schemes. 

Coach Day acknowledged this during his press conference this week when asked how the defense is different from past defensive coordinator Don Brown. Day responded with, “significantly different…..I think this style of defense is a little bit more NFL oriented in the way they are structured.” Day went on to give credit to MacDonald and his defense by saying “this is a very good defense….I think they are well-coached.”

Cav’s Three Keys for the Buckeye Offense

1) Repeat the Rhythm of Stroud: Last week, the Buckeyes attacked the Spartans in a myriad of ways and C.J. Stroud was near-perfect. He established a rhythm early in the game with their quick pass game and attacking what the defense gave them. The elements this week will be different for Stroud and Co. with the game being played in the Big House, but the early play-calling will likely have similarity to last week to get the ball in the playmakers’ hands with bubble screens and perimeter runs. Look for the Buckeyes to incorporate a lot pre-snap motion and shifting to keep the Wolverine defense moving pre-snap while also aiding Stroud in the diagnosis of man or zone coverage.

2) Pass Protection: The Wolverines have two of the best pass rushers in the country in Aidan Hutchinson (9.5 sacks, 11 TFLs) and David Ojabo (10 sacks, 10 TFLs). Hutchinson is also the highest-graded defender in college football according to Pro Football Focus with a 93.1 rating. In order for Stroud to have success in the five-step passing attack, the Buckeye offensive line will need to be solid in their pre-snap communication and anticipate the different blitz and stunt games the Wolverines will deploy.

3) Shots Downfield: Last week and throughout the season, the Buckeyes have found success with the deep ball. The ability to stretch the field and keep secondaries honest not only help with the short to intermediate pass game, but also in the run game to force the Wolverines to play with two safeties back. Look for Day to dial up some plays early to stretch the field on go or post routes. 

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