OneZuke18...why don't the Buckeyes blitz more? OneZuke18...I just got done watching X-SEC team vs. Y-SEC team, and they just bring the pressure every down, why don't the Buckeyes do that more? Fire Jim Heacock! Enough of the zone coverage! I just don't understand...
Well have no fear BuckeyeNation! For OneZuke18 is here to bring clarity to your defensive philosophical concerns!
Why don't the Buckeyes blitz more? Its a combination of things actually.
First of all, Jim Heacock isn't Fred Pagac or Mark Dantonio. So if that is the style you are looking for, then you are going to want to get rid of Jim Heacock. Heacock, despite what everyone thinks however, does like to bring pressure. He just seems to be a bit more calculated and cautious about doing so.
Unlike the 2002 National Championship teams and some of the great teams in the 1990's under Pagac and Dantonio that just brought waves of pressure and brought it from everywhere on the field, Heacock tries to mix his fronts, fake blitz, and coverages as well. Heacock's thought being eliminating the big plays, and getting more aggressive teams to make mistakes by making them sustain drives.
Once again, its a different philosophy, if you prefer Dantonio and Pagac, you're not going to be in favor of Jim Heacock.
Another reason the Buckeyes limit the amount of pressure is the inability of the front 7 to get to the quarterback consistently. Football starts and ends up front at the line of scrimmage and neither the offensive or defensive lines have played up to par. Take a look at some of these numbers...
2008 Ohio State Defense:
-52nd in the country in sacks (7th per game in the Big 10)
-64th in the country in tackles for loss (8th in the Big Ten)
As a defensive coordinator, if you can't get consistent pressure on the quarterback, you can't blitz with as much frequency, and it limits what you can call and when you can call it. And as you can see in the numbers above sacks and tackles for loss are two of the biggest indicators that dictate that thought.
My question to you the reader, would be do you think that Jim Tressel, Jim Heacock, and Luke Fickell don't know these numbers? Don't you think they see the game film, practice film, and know from those things what they can do effectively as a defensive unit, and what they can't?
I'm not apologizing for Jim Heacock here, don't misunderstand the point of this article, because regardless of what the problems are with this defense are...I don't like the philosophy or the recruiting of overall talent across the board on this defense. But that leads me to my point...
The recruiting on the defensive side of the football must be addressed. Because there is a clear problem from this authors perspective. When you have numbers like the ones I pointed out to you earlier in the article, there is a problem, and you have to look for a solution.
Why don't the Buckeyes attack more like say...an SEC defense? Because they don't have the talent in the front seven to do so currently. Take a look at the starters/players currently getting a lot of playing time, name one player in the Buckeyes front seven that SCARES YOU as a pass rushing threat? If you came up with a name, please comment on the message board and inform me, cause I couldn't come up with anybody.
Take a look at the front four, there isn't a Will Smith, Vernon Gholston, or even a Quinn Pitcock who you point to as an offensive coordinator and say, "that guy commands a double team, WE MUST ACCOUNT FOR HIM."
In addition, look at the "strength of our defense", the linebackers...I think they are athletic, and I would agree that they're the strength of the team. But what are their individual strengths? James Laurinaitis' strengths are his ability to drop in pass coverage, read and diagnose, and being a solid tackler. Marcus Freeman's has terrific athleticism, and his pass coverage abilities.
And Ross Homan is generally regarded for his ability as a strong tackler and his knack for filling hard in run support. The common trait missing in all of these is their lack of pass rushing/blitzing skills. There isn't a blitzing linebacker out of this current starting group, no A.J Hawk, Matt Wilhelm, Bobby Carpenter, or Andy Katzenmoyer out of this group that seems to have the knack of rushing the quarterback.
You can look no further than the recruiting of the front seven as to why these current issues exist. How do the Buckeyes address this? Well it depends on who you talk to...some people feel it falls solely on Jim Heacock since he is the defensive coordinator and his style of defense doesn't seem to rest well with many in BuckeyeNation. I would to an extent agree with the masses. But I think it goes further than just that surface explanation.
The root of the problem as I see it, is the lack of size at the defensive tackle position to recruit from in Ohio. And like it or not, but the primetime states to recruit impact defensive tackles is in the southeastern part of the country, Texas, and California primarily.
Look at Marvin Austin, Marlon Favorite, Tyson Jackson, DeMarcus Granger etc...all from those aforementioned areas. The Buckeyes HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO PULL KIDS FROM THESE AREAS TO MEET THIS NEED. Its paramount to them evening the gap between us and the Florida's Texas', Oklahoma's, and USC's of the world. Because that is where we are losing these bowl games folks, on the offensive and defensive lines. And if you're wondering why we have trouble with spread offenses...this is a big reason as well.
Tressel and the staff have tried very hard to correct this situation through recruiting in 2008 and continue to do so in 2009. Hopefully, they will start hitting on some of these targets, so the defense can become a little more aggressive, and start to resemble the Silver Bullets again.
As always thoughts and comments are welcomed. If you liked this article, check out my others, and become a fan! Thanks.