Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano knows his team’s defense can play better than how it played against Oregon State on Saturday.
The Buckeyes allowed 31 points and 392 yards to a Pac-12 team that lost all nine conference games in 2017 and recorded its only win against Portland State, an FCS opponent.
However, the majority of Oregon State’s offensive success against the Ohio State defense came in a short amount of time.
“82 percent of their offense came on seven plays. 82 percent of their production,” Schiano said. “We cannot allow that.”
The Ohio State defense was working with players without much in-game experience at the collegiate level. Ohio State went into its season opener with four new defenders in sophomore linebackers Baron Browning and Pete Werner,sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor and redshirt sophomore safety Jahsen Wint.
“That’s like starting a new catcher, a new shortstop and a new pitcher in baseball right up the middle. We knew there could be some growing pains there,” Schiano said. “Overall, I thought they were solid, made some mistakes. At least we now have a leaping off point. Now we can go and see how fast we can ascend.”
Wint and Pryor, initially battling for the starting safety spot alongside junior captain Jordan Fuller, started together due to Fuller missing the season opener with a hamstring injury. Schiano said both sophomore safeties did some good things, but “there was a lot of learning that they can take from that tape and that performance.”
Schiano said he hopes to have Fuller back Saturday for the Big Ten opener against Rutgers.
Despite Browning starting in the middle against Oregon State, Schiano said redshirt sophomore linebacker Tuf Borland, who is recovering from an offseason Achilles injury, is in the next step of his rehab process: live in-game action.
“I think he had 10 plays and that was kind of his pitch count and it’s all a part of his recovery. There’s different stages,” Schiano said. “He went through the rehab, he went through the independent running and misdirection, then he went into some individual technique work, then into some team stuff. Part of that is going and playing live football and he did that for 10 plays.”
Schiano said he and the Ohio State coaching staff will have to work with the training and medical staff to see how much of an increased workload Borland will see in the coming weeks.
Even without full workloads from key members of the defense, Schiano saw signs that Ohio State will improve in all aspects of the defense. With that in mind, Schiano said now is the time the improvement begins.
“Always people say between Week 1 and Week 2 is when you make your largest improvement. I think when you are a young unit, that even multiplies,” Schiano said. “So, we need to improve, that’s for sure. That’s not what we want to be out there, but the opportunity is there.”