Sprinting through its competition for majority of the season, the Ohio State defense turned to a backpedal in the first half against Michigan.
Redshirt senior quarterback Shea Patterson threw for 250 first half yards, more than any quarterback has recorded in an entire game against “Silver Bullets” in 2019, as Michigan totaled 285 offensive yards with 16 points despite a redzone giveaway.
After holding Patterson to 4-for-24 and allowing 111 Michigan yards in the second half, the defense regained its stride.
“Once we made those adjustments and got to settle and get a little more comfortable with the reads and what we were seeing, it then allowed us to play a lot faster,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Robert Landers said. “It’s one of those things where we knew we were gonna be tested physically, but the biggest thing was gonna be mentally.”
The Buckeyes played without redshirt sophomore cornerback Shaun Wade Saturday, which junior defensive end Chase Young said created a hole.
Wade was responsible for covering slot receivers in Ohio State’s defensive scheme, and with four Michigan receivers entering the game with more than 300 yards on the season, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said the skill was hard to match early.
“They’ve got some really good receivers. Patterson’s really talented. Their offensive line did a good job protecting, I thought,” Day said. “But I thought at halftime our defensive staff made some really good adjustments.”
Day said the depth in Ohio State’s secondary rotated in and played particularly well in the second half, including sophomore cornerback Sevyn Banks, junior cornerback Amir Riep, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Hooker and sophomore cornerback Cameron Brown.
“I think the biggest thing was we had to settle down,” Landers said. “There were a few things that they did that we just hadn’t seen on film, which has kind of been the trend all season.”
Michigan managed to chip away at the impact of Ohio State junior defensive end Chase Young, the school single-season sack record holder fielding an abundance of doubles and slides that prevented him from recording a quarterback takedown.
He finished with two hurries, however, and the rest of the defense managed two second half sacks of its own.
“I put my best on the field,” Young said. “And at the end of the day, you put your best on the field, you can’t be mad.”
Young said Ohio State’s renewed focus helped stop Michigan in the second half, and the change in play results could show a glimpse of that.
Michigan senior tight end Nick Eubanks picked up 34 yards on a wheel route in the first half, no defender within 10 yards for Ohio State.
The Wolverines tried the same route in the second half, and Ohio State junior linebacker Pete Werner broke up the pass.
“We knew how they were scheming us,” Young said. “I think we just corrected a few things knowing that, and we had to change how we played.”
Settled back into its mad dash, the Ohio State defense hopes to maintain its forward momentum into a Big Ten title game matchup against No. 12 Wisconsin.