Buckeyes Defense Baits Penn State On 4th Down

By FirstDown PlayBook on Oct 24, 2023
FirstDown PlayBook All 22 Tuesday

Let’s get it out of the way early. The Ohio State Buckeyes defense is good and they are the core of this 2023 team. Ryan Day will not publicly agree but that is the job of a good head football coach and he is definitely that. Today on All 22 Tuesday we want to look at how the Buckeyes defense baited Penn State on this important fourth down play this past Saturday.

It’s important to understand the flow of a game as you break it down. The only mistakes that a head coach could make in this one was to get too ambitious on offense. This was a good old fashioned NFL game with dominant defenses. So when you look at it the biggest mistake you can make, it is to let the defense make a big play.

However, when the game gets late, an offensive coordinator has no other option. You have to drop back and pass on a fourth down situation like this happens. Pay attention though, this is where game preparation and creating advantageous matchups happens. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles had the Buckeyes defense ready for this.

Ohio State Defense

Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles Used One Player To Do Three Things On This

The player we think makes this Buckeyes defense work is the “mug” player. The weak side linebacker #35 mugs up in the B gap pre-snap. This forces the Penn State left tackle to protect one on one against Ohio State’s best pass rusher. On the snap he bails becoming a free player to spy the quarterback run and take away short inside breaking routes.

More All 22 Big Ten Defense Here…

The secondary is playing outside leverage which means someone is going to play inside on all in breaking routes. Great coordinators find player from non obvious places and this is where #35 is used brilliantly. He goes from creating the one on one pass rush match up, to providing a rat coverage player and spying the quarterback run too. The Buckeyes defense came up big on this 4th & 3 late in the game.

Jud Keim