Jim Knowles Press Conference

Jim Knowles Talks Buckeye Defense, What’s Next

COLUMBUS — Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles talked with reporters on Tuesday to provide updates on the Buckeye defense and answer questions for the assembled media. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

  • What stands out about Taulia Tagovailoa? He’s always been a dynamic player. He creates offense. He has a really strong arm. He can make throws from sideline to sideline. He hurt them with some plays last year. He is also making good decisions.
  • How do you generate pressure on the QB this week? You have to try to keep him off balance. At the same time, it’s got to be a coordinated rush because he will make guys miss as well. There’s a lot of coordination involved when trying to contain him.
  • Knowles knocked on wood when it was said that the longest TD OSU has allowed this year has been two yards.
  • He’s seeing a lot of resiliency from this defense. “A get-better approach.” Accountability across the board in fixing mistakes. Everybody is working together. “It’s always what have you done for me lately.” They’ve done a lot of good, and there are things they can fix to always stay hungry.
  • They’re using Tommy Eichenberg this year more as a QB on the field and less as a blitzer than last year. He sees things like Knowles sees them and he can make changes on the field.
  • Any issues spotted regarding covering the ND tight ends? That was a tough matchup against talented players. There can always be adjustments, nothing specifically, but they need to continue to building the arsenal against that type of tight end. Whether that’s moving Sonny Styles over that guy or other options. You still have to be able to disguise because you don’t want to show your hand as you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Maryland wants 12 explosive plays per game. What do they do to make that happen? Tagovailoa has the ability to extend plays, so when you extend a play, the chances of explosive plays go up.
  • What did you learn from watching the ND tape? “I saw some things that I needed to adjust, I guess you would say. Some of those long drives, I could have adjusted better to some of the things they were doing.” ND was creating extra gaps with the tight ends, so he could have done a better job adjusting to that.
  • Tyleik Williams is still behind in reps because he was out for so long in practice, but he’s been productive and the more snaps he gets, the better he’s getting.
  • What are the keys to slowing down Maryland’s QB? You have to present different pictures. That forces him to hold the ball longer. But then you have to have a coordinated rush.
  • Larry Johnson has his plan for the defensive end rotation and he works it beautifully. Tuimoloau is a playmaker in the boundary.
  • No, the defense didn’t wear down at the end of the Notre Dame. “We gave up some bad plays.”
  • What is the most important pass defense metric for him? Winning third down and eliminating explosive plays. They are on a good track with that and they need to keep it up. He loves getting sacks. He was driven more by that as a younger coach. But the bottom line is eliminating the explosives and win on third and fourth down.
  • Are you holding back some defensive aggression? “The honest answer is yes. But what matters is what works.” You want to have those blitzes in case you need them. “It’s a constant battle fought just by myself somewhere.”
  • You have faith in certain guys to step up in big moments, like JT Tuimoloau did against Notre Dame. “With a guy like that, you’ve just got to let him go.”
  • It was good to have a bye week in preparation for Taulia Tagovailoa. There is sometimes an urge to put a bunch of stuff in, but they wanted to make sure they do a certain number of things really well.
  • Cody Simon is a team guy who produces in key moments. They are trying to put him in spots where you know you can count on him. They are always looking for ways to get him on the field.
  • When somebody is playing as well as Denzel Burke, it gives everybody confidence. You can just count on him when you’re scheming up the coverages. It frees you up to come up with stuff for others.
  • With the game being shortened, you have more of an opportunity to let your best players play.
  • The challenges of defending the QB sneak? You have certain calls that you make. The Eagles have made it famous. Notre Dame showed it with a guy other than QB. You try to get a push inside, but you always have to have guys defending the escape hatches like they did against Notre Dame and Sam Hartman.
  • The knowledge that Josh Proctor and Lathan Ransom have in the system, they know what’s going on wherever they are. They understand the entire defense. That’s what you want from your safeties. They understand all of the details no matter where they line up.
  • Davison Igbinosun is very aggressive. “You feel him out there.” He is continuing to get better. You can count on him to show up in the running game in the boundary. Jordan Hancock is really talented. Moving to the nickel is not that easy. You want that guy to have corner skills, but there’s a myriad of adjustments that go with that.
  • You are constantly weighing the desire to play more guys with the reality of relying on the veterans that have worked well. Most of the times as a coach you’re going to stick with what’s working.
  • Did he dance in the locker room after the game? “Nope.”
  • Was there something that Notre Dame did that was effective against OSU’s linebackers? Really good offensive line and a premier opponent. Both Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers can play better than they did in that game, and they both know it. “It’s going to come around again and they’ll be better.”

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