Jim Knowles Press Conference

Jim Knowles Pleased With Defensive Performance Against Indiana, Not Satisfied

COLUMBUS — Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with reporters on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s performance in OSU’s 23-3 win over Indiana. He also provided updates on his personnel and discussed expectations moving forward. Highlights of everything he had to say can be found below.

  • They practiced for the triple option about five plays in practice during camp, so he was pleased with how they handled it. They communicated well. They were able to take what he told them during the game and they executed very well.
  • You have to see it show up in the game, but when you see it all camp long, you expected to see Denzel Burke continue to play well. He definitely did that on Saturday.
  • The secondary stayed in tune during a game where the option can lull you to sleep.
  • Josh Proctor played well. “We have always had high hopes for him. Talented.” Consistency has been an issue in the past, but he finished fall practice strong. Malik Hartford is a young, talented player, and you saw that in this game. “Should’ve had an interception.” “He’s just around the ball.”
  • Tough decisions going on at free safety right now. They’re all good, quality players. You evaluate all the plays and reps and put the guys out there. It was close between Josh Proctor and Malik Hartford. It’s hard to play three guys. They went with Proctor because of his experience, plus this was the first game. They could stick with him but he’s going to have to earn it each week. Everybody will.
  • There were a dozen or so Champions on defense.
  • Anything he didn’t like on Saturday? A couple of third downs where they gave up a completion or getting slightly out of a gap when the option turned into an inside run.
  • Where does he want to see the defense get better this week? The first game was an anomaly because of the triple option, so they still need to see the defense perform against a conventional offense.
  • What is an acceptable line of physicality/handsiness with Davison Igbinosun? You don’t hold him back at all. You just coach the technique.
  • Encouraged by the cornerbacks staying on top of the deep balls and the cross-country routes. Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock getting their hands on passes was a great thing to see. IGB really brought it, even in the run game.
  • Wishes he could’ve gotten more linebackers in. There were limited numbers of plays, then you add in the triple option, so it was a difficult game to rotate linebackers.
  • Sonny Styles is a great talent. They want to continue to grow him without putting too much on him.
  • He expected a quicker game because of the clock rule but it was magnified by the offense they were facing.
  • The interior of the defensive line made plays. They held IU to several 0, 1, 2, 3-yard gains. The defensive tackles weren’t just using up blocks, they were making tackles. That’s something positive to build on.
  • Josh Proctor’s strong point is being aggressive and playing downhill, so Knowles is interested to see how he handles the downfield aspect of the passing game.
  • He wasn’t necessarily laughing about seeing the triple option after joking he might see it the week before. That’s the thing about first games, you never know.
  • Did you prove anything to yourself? “Prove is a strong word…” This is a long season with some tough opponents, but there are indications you’re moving on the right path when you only give up one explosive play. He blames himself for that one play.
  • Is there a pride in the defensive room to know that they stepped up and one that game? For maybe 24 hours. “Nobody’s going to have a parade or anything. You did your job. Now onto the next.” It does build confidence for future opponents. When you play great defense, it gives everybody confidence. “You just kind of know that everything is going to be okay when you play great defense.” It’s just being part of a team. You want to be a great teammate, including the coaches. You just want to make sure that people can count on you, no matter what happens in a game.
  • When they handled the triple option without preparing it, it is an indicator that they can handle the controlled chaos that happens during the game.
  • Loved the rotation on the inside. “Guys stay fresh.” They will eventually have to rush the passer. The inside guys were taking a lot of shots with that run game.

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