No one is pushing a panic button inside the coaches’ offices at Ohio State, but with 11 days before the first game, Urban Meyer is looking for it. And a couple more linebackers to be counted upon.
No one is pushing a panic button inside the coaches’ offices at Ohio State, but with 11 days before the first game, Urban Meyer is looking for it.
And a couple more linebackers to be counted upon.
The Buckeyes are replacing six of their starting front seven from last season. That includes losing John Simon from the defensive line. After Saturday’s scrimmage, Meyer walked off the practice field a little discouraged by his linebackers.
“We’re not ready to play a game yet, which is the good thing because we don’t have to be,” Meyer said. “Our goal is the military model, the power of the unit. We want nine units ready when called upon, and we’re not there yet. I’d say there’s four or five units that are getting really close, and four that aren’t. We have some work to do and we have (less than) two weeks to do it.”
Linebacker Ryan Shazier is the lone returner among the front seven. He led the defense with 115 tackles last season. Joshua Perry and Curtis Grant are the likely starters alongside Shazier ... maybe.
“The linebacker position is one of the units I’m talking about,” Meyer said. “We’re not there yet. We have some work to do. ... I’m not throwing them under the bus, but we’ve got to get better there.”
The scrimmage was closed to the public and media, but quarterback Braxton Miller gashed the defense a couple of times on cut-back type runs. Even Shazier admitted the linebackers have a lot of work to do.
“Right now, I feel like the offense is better than the defense,” Shazier said.
That’s a switch from past years. Ohio State’s defense has usually been a strength, particularly early in the season when a young offense struggled to find rhythm and momentum. But this year it seems as though the offense can score in bunches.
“It makes us feel good knowing the offense can put up a lot of points,” Shazier said. “We just have to hold teams to under what our offense can put up.”
That’s not exactly the kind of mentality that will land Shazier in the motivational quote hall of fame. But the defense’s goals are, ahem, higher than just doing enough.
“Our goal is to not let teams score this year,” Shazier said. “We want to try to be the best defense. We have to focus in. If they’re the best offense, we practice against them, we can be the best defense.”
One of the problems with the linebackers, Shazier believes, is too much thinking. That happened with the offense last year as it struggled early to get a grip on Meyer’s new offensive system. The defense, however, has always seemed to be able to replace talented players in the front seven with equal or greater talent.
Page 2 of 2 - “We could do a way better job than we’re doing now,” Shazier said. “The linebackers aren’t playing as good as we’re supposed to. We had a bunch of great linebackers at Ohio State, and we’re not living up to that name right now.”
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