Ohio State Football: Keys to Improving Struggling Defense

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 6:  Braylon Heard #5 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is gang tackled by a group of Ohio State Buckeyes defenders at Ohio Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Nebraska 63-38.   (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State won its seventh game of the season last week, but the undefeated record has little to do with the defense.

The Buckeyes are currently only No. 53 in the nation with 24.6 points allowed per game. They have allowed 400 total yards per game, 69th-best in the NCAA.

Against Indiana, the team allowed 49 points and almost 500 yards of offense as it was barely able to escape with a 52-49 win.

If Ohio State wants to remain perfect this season, it will need to make these adjustments on the defensive side of the ball.


Force the Opponent to Run

Opposing teams have attempted 300 passes this season, more than any other team in the nation.

While the secondary has not played poorly, the volume has caused the defense to give up the 18th most passing yards. 

Even Nebraska's Taylor Martinez was able to get his fifth-career 200-yard passing game against the Buckeyes a few weeks ago.

A lot of this has been based on early leads with the trailing team trying to catch up. Still, the coaching staff must adjust and put more defensive backs on the field throughout the game. With more dime and nickel packages, opposing teams will not be able to pass the ball as easily.

There is no doubt the defense is more comfortable playing against the run. It needs to force the opponent to play into the game plan. 


Get to the Quarterback

Ohio State has a respectable 16 sacks this season, but the defense needs more if it wants to be considered one of the best in the nation.

John Simon has done a great job of getting into the backfield this season with three sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Ryan Shazier has helped with six tackles for a loss. However, it is not just the times they make the tackles that are important.

The entire team needs to put pressure on the opposing quarterback on every play. This will force bad decisions and eventually turnovers.


Stop the Big Play

Last week, Indiana receiver Shane Wynn was able to break off a 76-yard touchdown to keep the game close before the half. 

Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead had a 73-yard run, while teammate Kenny Bell also added a 74-yard reception.

Three plays of over 70 yards is way too much for one defense to allow during a season, let alone in a two-game period.

The defense needs to stay focused throughout the game. Miscommunication and poor tackling can lead to a game-changing play at any time.

This cannot happen if Ohio State wants to remain contenders this year and next.