COLUMBUS — Busts are going to happen occasionally, even for a program like Ohio State which historically prides itself on stingy defense.
Sometimes tackles get missed. Assignments get blown. Opponents dial up perfect play calls.
But when it happens with consistency like it did to the Buckeyes from the start of the season all the way through the Big Ten Championship game, that’s when changes have to be made. And that’s exactly why Al Washington is one of four new defensive coaches trying to lead a turnaround for the program to get the Silver Bullets back to the standard after the worst statistical season in school history.
Daunting task, right? Maybe not considering just how much talent is returning for the Buckeyes, who might just be a couple fundamental and schematic changes away from massive improvements.
“They are a high-character group, very talented, athletic, tough — and I would say there’s a lot of room for development,” Washington said during spring camp. “They’re just learning the defense, but they’re a great group, man. Great leadership.
“Every kid knows that [situation], so you get everybody’s best. Nobody is comfortable, nobody is complacent. Everybody is growth-minded, everybody is eager. So as a coach, I’m not coaching effort. I’m not saying at a place like this you ever would, but it’s human nature, right? But it’s been awesome because everybody has kind of bought into that. … When they’re out there, they want it.”
The Buckeyes obviously need that step forward from the linebackers as well if they’re going to defend the Big Ten title again this season. And business will really pick up in August when training camp opens and Washington gets his hands on a hungry group of defenders again.
So, what exactly went wrong last season for Ohio State on defense? Where can the Buckeyes potentially find some simple solutions? Who should be on the field the most for Al Washington at linebacker? Former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren was in the Lettermen Row film lab again looking back on the problems from last season — with an eye on the future for a revamped defense.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.