September 25, 2012

Week 4: Evaluating the Buckeyes' defense

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Each week at Buckeye Grove, we'll examine the current state of the Ohio State position groups, with insight from Buckeyes' players and coaches.

Earlier today, we took a look at the Ohio State offense, which put up its lowest single-game point total of the Urban Meyer era with 29 points against UAB. Now we'll take a look at the Buckeyes' defense, which has also drawn criticism following OSU's win over the Blazers.

Defensive Line

The Buckeyes' defensive line failed to register a sack for the first time all season on Saturday, but still provided consistent pressure on UAB quarterback Austin Brown. A lot of that pressure came from defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who has put together a highlight reel that would leave NFL scouts drooling over the 322-pound lineman.

"I think the sky's the limit, I don't think we've touched where he can be. I think (OSU defensive line coach) Mike Vrabel is doing a nice job fundamentally," Meyer said of Hankins. "He's still got some development to do. And when he does I think he'll be one of the best players in the country."

For his part, Hankins was satisfied with the play of the OSU defense, which didn't give up a touchdown against the Blazers.

"I felt like it was much better than a week ago," Hankins said. "I don't think they scored big on us. We did pretty well today. "


While Meyer's teams have typically tackled just once a week in the days leading up to games, the OSU coach deciding to add an extra day of contact last week following a dismal tackling performance for the Buckeyes against Cal. Meyer was more impressed- although not satisfied- with his team's ability to bring ball-carriers to the ground on Saturday, and as a result, OSU will tackle twice again this week.

"We're going to do it again this week," Meyer said. "It was not a finished product by all means but it was much better than it was the week before."

As the elder statesman of the Buckeyes' linebacking corps, Etienne Sabino said that tackling is still an area that he'd like to see the Buckeyes improve on.

"It's something we still have to work on," Sabino said. "We missed too many, I missed too many. We aren't where we need to be yet."

Defensive Backs

With starting cornerback Bradley Roby and safety C.J. Barnett out of the lineup with injuries, the Buckeyes surrendered 259 yards to the Blazers' passing attack. Meyer admitted that he hasn't been thrilled with the play of his secondary, and hinted that some more man coverage could be in OSU's future.

"The aggressiveness of our back end of our defense right now is a little bit of a concern," Meyer said. "That's being discussed. And we have some thoughts on that for this week because you have to."

One positive of the Buckeyes' secondary on Saturday was the play of sophomore cornerback Doran Grant, who recorded seven tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery, and an interception in his first career start. The Akron native, however, wasn't satisfied with his team's bend-but-don't-break effort against UAB.

"For the Silver Bullets, it's a negative. That's way too many yards. We just gotta do better controlling the yards," Grant said. "We just gotta look at the film and adjust to it. That's all I can tell you."


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