until Texas vs Kansas

Wednesday, September 7


Gameday Breakdown: Defense

Rather than break down the defenses by defensive line, linebackers, and secondary, we’re going to evaluate their strengths as a whole. Ohio State features the best linebacking core in the country, led by All American A.J. Hawk, a ferocious tackler and smart defender. Jim Tressel is an outstanding defensive coach and Vince Young will be facing a very disciplined, aggressive, and talented group of defenders.

Ohio State blitzed a lot last week, much more than Mack Brown expected them to. Brown said at his Monday press conference that Texas would spend extra time this week working on picking up blitz packages. While I’m sure Ohio State will bring some blitzes, I’d be surprised if they do a ton of blitzing on Saturday. It’s not the best strategy against Vince Young. He’s too elusive and, by blitzing, you open the door for him to start running. That didn’t work well for Michigan, and I don’t think Jim Tressel will try much of it. Rather, I think you’ll see the Ohio State linebackers shadowing Vince Young, keying on the running game, and forcing Young to throw downfield. Yet another reason why it is imperative that Greg Davis has a good game plan for getting the ball downfield.

Much has been said about the loss of all-universe linebacker Derrick Johnson, but this unit is just as good, if not better, than last year’s squad. Rodrique Wright is a force on the line, Aaron Harris is a fine replacement for DJ, and the secondary has really developed into a good unit after struggling at times as a younger unit the last two years.

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik faces an interesting dilemma in this game: Is it wiser to blitz often and put pressure on the not-outstanding Ohio State quarterbacks? Or should Texas focus more on preventing the big play and blitzing less? I’m fairly certain we’ll see a fair amount of blitzing on Saturday. This is an aggressive unit with an aggressive coordinator. I suspect we’ll be trying to pressure whoever’s behind center for most of the game.

This brings us to a point we’ve yet to mention—the battle of the turnovers. In tight games between great teams, the difference almost always comes down to turnovers. Whichever defense can win that battle will have given their team the huge edge in this one.



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