Urban Meyer is a fan of big, mobile quarterbacks, running the ball and defenses that do not give an inch. This season, the Ohio State coach has all three elements, with the defensive unit quite possibly being the most impressive part of the team.
Against Rutgers, the Silver Bullets simply dominated. Surrendering just 116 total yards, OSU held Rutgers to its worst completion percentage this season, at just 18.75 percent.
The only real offense given up by the Buckeyes on Saturday came courtesy of Rutgers junior running back Robert Martin, who produced 40 yards on 13 carries. Overall, OSU surrendered an average of 2.2 yards per carry, its best number this season.
Meyer loves to play defensive football, and his team has given him record-setting defensive football this season. After a few slow offensive starts at the beginning of each game, he said the key has been the play of his defense, which has kept the Buckeyes in every game.
“You know, any time you have great defense that’s — just the way the game of football is, you have great defense, thing are going to get usually rolling for you at some point,” Meyer said. “Even if you struggle a little bit.”
Although a statement performance on the defensive side of the ball has the Buckeyes feeling well about their remaining Big Ten opponents, Indiana is not a team to sleep on. Redshirt junior quarterback Richard Lagow is second in the Big Ten with 1,278 passing yards, and leads the conference in terms of yards per attempt among other starting quarterbacks.
In the backfield, junior Devine Redding is off to a fast start, picking up 413 yards rushing, averaging 5 yards per carry, but has failed to find the endzone. OSU has yet to surrender a rushing touchdown this season.
Off to a 3-1 start, Indiana is coming off a barn-burner matchup against then-No. 17 Michigan State. The Hoosiers stunned the Spartans in overtime, picking up their third win of the season.
Redshirt junior linebacker Chris Worley said he is not shocked the Hoosiers won. In the mind of Worley, it was all about the skill level of each team.
“If both teams play hard, the best team should win on Saturdays,” Worley said. “I think both teams played hard, and the best team won.”
Indiana presents a dynamic attack, which promotes an interesting challenge to the Buckeyes. Allowing just 9.0 points per game, OSU has one of the best defenses in the nation, which is exactly why OSU defensive coordinator Luke Fickell feels his unit is ready for the test of the Hoosiers.
“We talk about objectives all the time, and objectives are things we measure every single day, every week,” Fickell said. “We try to leave the goals and the big long-term things until the end of the year. We know we’re are on the right path, we know we gotta continue to improve, but we like where we are right now.”
OSU sacked Rutgers redshirt junior Chris Laviano three times, with three different players dragging down the quarterback. Redshirt junior Tyquan Lewis, redshirt freshman Robert Landers and freshman Nick Bosa all broke through the offensive line and took down Laviano.
So far, Lewis and Bosa have two sacks each this season, while Landers picked up the first sack of his OSU career.
For the first time this season, OSU’s defense failed to record a turnover. Incredibly, Rutgers is the first offense this season to prevent the Buckeyes from scoring a defensive touchdown.
Indiana ranks as one of the worst in the nation in interceptions thrown per game, giving up nearly two picks per game. Although the Hoosiers give up plenty of picks and OSU missed out on forcing a turnover Saturday, redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore said grabbing another interception is not the goal.
“I feel like if you’re too thirsty to get an interception, that’s when things go bad, so I’m just going to continue to play my technique and if it comes, it comes,” Lattimore said.
Looking to continue their dominance on defense, the Buckeyes will face Lagow, Redding and the rest of the Hoosiers on Saturday in Ohio Stadium at 3:30 p.m. in their second Big Ten game of the season.