Jim Knowles Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive Coordinator

Jim Knowles Discusses Third Downs, Defensive Pressure, More

COLUMBUS — Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with reporters on Tuesday for his weekly media session. The Buckeyes have only allowed five points per game this season, but there were still plenty of concerns for Knowles to be asked about. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

  • On the DE pass rush, are they getting enough? “Yeah, they’re getting their job done.” They have played two games where they haven’t had too many opportunities to pass rush. That opportunity should come this week. Teams are also running the ball on third down more trying to shorten the game.
  • Is your defense built to handle the RPO? That’s why it was built. You can sometimes get lulled to sleep by offenses. But the answers are there in the system. It’s just about continued training.
  • Jordan Hancock is an athletic, competitive guy. He showed at the nickel a willingness to tackle. He gets into the mix. He has toughness with the foot speed of a corner.
  • He has adjusted his philosophy on the need for feast or famine on defense regarding negative plays and taking chances in order to gain an advantage. He has adjusted his philosophy here because they have better players. A lot of times, the best philosophy here is to let the guys play and keep the points off the board. That became his realization based on what happened last year. When you have a skill advantage over an opponent, the negative plays can look nice, but when you play that way against an opponent as talented as you are, it can lead to touchdowns.
  • They lost leverage more this past week than in the opener because guys were doing too much. It’s disappointing because of how well they did in week one when they were hyper-focused on their individual assignments.
  • He didn’t expect to blitz as much last week as they did.
  • You have to be able to keep the ball in front of you this week. Smart swarm. You have to change with proper leverage.
  • Why was Malik Hartford pulled last week? He looked like he struggled on that first series. That’s natural for a true freshman. They just felt it was best to get Ja’Had Carter in the game. Depending on what kind of practice time Josh Proctor gets this week, he could move back in there as the starter.
  • Sonny Styles can do a lot of different things. They want to build those things in. He’s young. He needs to continue to gain experience in order to become a premier player. When you try to plug him into other areas, however, it can take away from what you actually want him to do.
  • This is a big test for the secondary. The offense will attack on the perimeter and downfield. This defense had issues with that this year. They’ve been better this year, but they haven’t really been tested yet.
  • It’s a big bonus to have a guy like Davison Igbinosun who can tackle well in the run game as well.
  • How do they balance going with Sonny Styles or Cam Martinez or Jordan Hancock at nickel? You balance man vs zone, do they understand the different formations, what are you trying to disguise, etc.
  • Was it difficult to adjust his philosophy? “It’s a change. How much, I don’t know. I try to pride myself in changing because the game changes. The personnel changes.” He didn’t come here expecting to change much because what he did worked and got him to Ohio State. “It’s really just learning and trying to go and doing what’s best to try to win. It’s not what I know, it’s what our players know.”
  • Are you more aggressive against equated matchups? You have to be balanced, but also can’t be predictable. You also go with the flow of the game and how things are going.
  • Denzel Burke has shown in games everything he’s shown in practice. You saw that starting in the spring, his demeanor and attitude. The way he takes care of his body. The brightness in his eyes. The locked-in learning. It’s difficult for everyone to change and be introspective, but Burke did that in the offseason. A young person under the spotlight with the pressure he has, “so I give him a lot of credit.”
  • He doesn’t want Davison Igbinosun to change anything he’s doing with his aggression.
  • How have the clock rules impacted the defense? They have to get off the field on third downs even more. You can look at this past week and show the players how important it is to get off the field. “Get the damn ball back. And we need to do a better job of that.”
  • WKU QB Austin Reed looks like a lot of good players he’s played against.
  • In general, they are doing okay healthwise.
  • Austin Reed seems like a cool operator. Never seems like he’s under pressure. He slings it and doesn’t get caught off guard too much.
  • They are expecting WKU to come out swinging. “I don’t expect that they’re going to try to slow the game down like we’ve seen the last two weeks.”

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