Ohio State-Purdue: Buckeye Defense Guilty Too

Doug TarnovichContributor IOctober 19, 2009

"Head coach Jim Tressel and his staff will be criticized, and quite frankly, they deserve it," writes ESPN.com Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg in regard to Saturday's 26-18 upset loss to the Purdue Boilermakers. "Today's game is a major indictment of Jim Tressel and his offensive coaching staff. There's no way to sugarcoat it."

Just his offensive staff?

I could go on all day about the abomination that is known as the Ohio State offense, but, at this time, I choose to turn my attention to yet another coaching failure.

Before last Saturday, the Buckeye defense has had immense success generating a consistent pass rush with its front four, even against teams like USC and Wisconsin.

Because of this great asset, Ohio State defensive coordinators Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell have enjoyed the liberty to drop the linebackers into the defensive backfield for pass protection rather than blitzing the quarterback.

But it wasn't working against Purdue. Quarterback Joey Elliott kept avoiding pressure by rolling out of the collapsing pocket and throwing on the run. He showed a lot of physical and mental toughness despite getting nailed right after releasing the ball.

The four-man rush wasn't getting it done, and it was up to the defensive coordinators to call in some more blitzes and play tighter coverage in the secondary, neither of which was done. No adjustments were made, and the coaches insisted on staying with prevent defense.

Coach Tressel wonders what he would do if he ever were to pass along the play-calling duties to another coach. I have a question: Why doesn't he mind what his assistants are doing? If Heacock and Fickell are the ones responsible for the defensive scheme, and it's not working, its up to Tressel to get on them about it.

Or maybe Heacock and Fickell are getting vetoed and it's the Vest himself that is stubborn. That would certainly fit his MO and approach to the game. Either way, the Buckeye Nation should be deeply concerned, to put it mildly.

This program is becoming saturated with bad coaching, and the deserved blame for Saturday's debacle should not be reserved solely for Jim Bollman and Nick Siciliano.