January 2, 2010

Less is more for the Ohio State defense

PASADENA, Calif. - The Buckeye Nation knew all along how good the Ohio State defense has been all season long but now the entire nation knows after a masterful performance in the Rose Bowl on Friday afternoon. The Oregon Ducks entered the game with one of the nation's top offenses and many believed that the Bucks would not have an answer for Jeremiah Masoli or LaMichael James.

With a month to prepare the Ohio State coaches and players poured through stacks of tape of the Oregon Ducks and while everyone would think that the Buckeyes would need to expand the defensive playbook in all actuality it was an opportunity to scale some things back.

"They simplified it actually," defensive lineman Doug Worthington said. "There is having too much in a game plan and coach knew that. He simplified it and took a couple of little things off and it made it a great and simple game plan. We executed and it was huge... we finally got that big W that we needed."

That would come in handy going against an offense that makes a living out of trying to find confusion in an opponent's defense and exploit that weakness. The Buckeye defense already ranked in the top ten in several national categories but these changes streamlined what they did well.

"They kept it very simple," linebacker Brian Rolle said. "When I say simple I mean five or six calls simple, just so guys can be fast and run around. I know that this defense did a great job preparing with the calls that we had and we executed well in keeping Masoli contained most of the night."

It just isn't as easy as slashing the playbook however because if it were then every team would be doing something along those lines. It takes great players to accompany any game plan like that and the Ohio State coaching staff is fortunate to have the players that they do.

"Defense is a simple game," defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said. "If you have 11 guys executing you have a chance. If they are good players and playing hard you have a better chance. It is not rocket science."

Rocket science or not the Buckeyes answered the call and silenced many of the critics who were thumping the point that Ohio State's defense may work against the plodding Big Ten but couldn't work against a team that possesses speed.

"I don't know if we was the fastest team out there at times but at the end of the day we got the job done," Worthington said. "Oregon played a great game and Masoli is a great leader out there. They deserve a lot as well."

But just how different was this game plan from other ones that have been seen throughout the season for Ohio State? Maybe not as different as you would think.

"If you look at this game plan it is no different than what we did against Toledo," Heacock said. "We did a couple of things a little bit different, some scheme things. This quarterback is the threat running the football and we had to account for him on every defense that we had. The nice thing is that we had some time to prep for it."

And with that month or so of preparations the Buckeyes knew what to expect to a certain degree and when the Ducks tried to make some changes the Buckeyes were ready for that next move.

"We had an unbelievable game plan," Homan said. "(It had us) trying to attack them and we just kept following it through for the whole game. They threw some different things at us and we got them adjusted on the sideline and came out firing."

"Some of the commentators thought they were going to need a lot of tequila for scoring points," Rolle joked. "They are only doing three shots I think, what a waste of a bottle of alcohol."


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