Shamed OSU Defense Fights Back
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Jim Heacock walked into Ohio State’s film room last Sunday he was angry.
For those who don’t know, Heacock is the kind of coach who is never particularly satisfied, even after a win. He’s a perfectionist. He is usually the first one in the film and the last one to leave.
When things don’t go well, he can be particularly cantankerous. He was seething after Ohio State’s 24-6 loss to Miami (Fla.), mainly because his defense put the Buckeyes in a 14-0 hole in the first quarter.
“I think they were hurt a little bit last week, their pride was hurt a little bit,” OSU’s defensive coordinator said.
“I think they came back and worked hard this week in practice and I think we got a little bit better. I think we prepared a little bit better. I know we were ready to play going into the game and throughout the majority of the game we played hard and played pretty well.”
The Buckeyes missed an astonishing 27 tackles in their loss to Miami last week. It wasn’t just one or two guys; it was a sloppy performance by the entire defense as they allowed Lamar Miller to run wild.
The missed tackles were hard for the fans to stomach, but Heacock was actually more concerned with the lack of defenders around the ball for the Silver Bullets.
“We're not so concerned about the missed tackles. The thing we're trying to stress is swarming to the football,” he said.
“Go ahead and let one guy miss the tackle but scare the heck out him then we want three or four guys there to help him out. That's a little bit more of the emphasis. You're going to miss some tackles, when you're in the open field with a great back you're going to miss some tackles. The think we stressed is getting more people there and swarming to the ball a little bit more and getting more effort.”
Head Coach Luke Fickell said he was focused on starting fast and staying poised this week defensively. The Buckeyes did a much better job of both things Saturday in their 37-17 win over Colorado. They kept the Buffaloes off the scoreboard until their 17-yard touchdown to Toney Clemons on a broken play at the end of the first half.
“Any time you can go out there and start the game off fast and shut your opponents down, it makes the defense more confident,” cornerback Travis Howard said.
“We played with a lot confidence today. We were able to go out there and start fast and finish fast. And that was our whole mentality coming into this week. We knew we had to go out there and create turnovers and get stops this week.”
The Buckeyes recovered two fumbles Saturday—one by Adam Bellamy on a botched handoff and another by Zach Domicone on a muffed punt return. They also forced Colorado into six three-and-outs.
“This week the mentality was to swarm the ball,” Howard said.
“If one guy missed it, another guy was going to be there to make the tackle. That was the mentality today.”
One of the big changes for the Buckeyes was Heacock’s decision to move sophomore defensive back Christian Bryant into the starting lineup. The Glenville product replaced Orhian Johnson at safety, but also moved over to play some star in obvious passing situations.
After getting off to bad start last week, Ohio State’s defense forced three-and-outs on each of Colorado’s first three drives as they limited the Buffaloes to just 18 total yards in the first quarter.
“The biggest thing that we've got going for us is that we have heart and we're always going to fight back,” junior defensive end John Simon said.
“Last week, them getting two quick scores hurt us, and even though we battled back, those fourteen points were costly. It was a big key to start fast today. We did a nice job and it helped us to get situated a little bit.”
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