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Football: Ohio State secondary heavily tested against Indiana

Ohio State junior safety Jordan Fuller (4) waits for Rutgers offense to snap the ball in the second quarter of the game against Rutgers on Sept. 8. Ohio State won 52-3. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Indiana sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey came into the game against Ohio State as a high-accuracy, short-throw passer, completing 71 percent of his passes at an average of nine yards per completion.

On Saturday, Ramsey flipped the script on his style, throwing downfield on a large number of passes, completing 53 percent of throws for 322 yards and three touchdowns.

Ramsey completed three throws of 30 yards or more — one more than he had through the first five games of the season.

Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said there are clear areas of the defense that need to be worked on.

It’s not the entire defense. I think it’s a couple of pointed positions that we need to do a better job on our pursuit angles,” Schiano said. “The frustrating part is when you know there’s something going on and you’re not successfully getting it repaired, so we’ll go back at it, and the good thing is that, like I said, this group fights, and they’ve found a way to win some really tough football games.”

Even with the deep plays, No. 3 Ohio State came out with a 49-26 victory over the Hoosiers. Head coach Urban Meyer said Monday there were still positives to take from the performance of the secondary.

“You look at the last half of the game, they held them to 100 yards against Indiana… also created a couple of turnovers, stopped them on fourth down,” Meyer said. “What happens on the negative are interference calls or jump-balls-type things. We look at everything, over-analyze everything. So it’s not as simple as this. It’s a variety of things.”

Ohio State was called on one defensive pass interference and one defensive holding by the secondary, and had one pass interference call declined on a Ramsey touchdown.

In the first half, Ramsey amassed 239 yards, torching the Buckeyes on 50/50 balls on streaks down each of the sidelines.

Indiana’s second half strategy attempted to attack that further, as many plays involved Ramsey throwing deep and hoping his receivers would find a way to come down with it. Eventually, the Ohio State defense adapted, and Ramsey was held under 100 yards for the final two quarters, completing 45 percent of his passes.

Meyer said he still believes in the press-man coverage he has implemented into the defense.

“Press coverage is a very hard skill. The reason we do it, we want to challenge every throw,” Meyer said. “We’ve had some excellent corners around here. I believe we have excellent corners now.”

With its recent struggles, Ohio State has fallen to No. 60 in pass defense, allowing 222.2 yards per game through the air.

Meyer said the defense Ohio State runs comes with a learning curve.

“It’s a skill that requires an incredible amount of work. And when you’re good, it’s great,” Meyer said. “Press coverage, where you disrupt passes constantly — that’s a skill set that’s very difficult that we ask them to do. And we just got to continue to work to get better. The risk/reward on that, once you get great at that, you’re playing great defense now.”

Ohio State’s defense has proved itself vulnerable to the big plays so far this season, allowing two 93-yard plays, tied for the longest plays allowed in program history.

The secondary has areas to improve, whether it be angles to the ball or making the big, legal plays on 50/50 deep balls.

Schiano said the answer can be simple.

“If you cover them, they stop throwing it, and if you don’t, they keep throwing it, so we haven’t done a good enough job covering them and it’s not the players or the coaches,” Schiano said. “We’re 6-0 for a reason, and we have to get better, that’s for sure.”

 

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