Jim Knowles Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive Coordinator

Jim Knowles Discusses Dominating Buckeye Defense, Challenges Of Badger Offense

COLUMBUS — Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with reporters on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s upcoming matchup at Wisconsin. He also answered questions looking back at the win over Penn State. The highlights of everything that Knowles had to say can be found below.

  • Have you ever coached a defense that had an opponent go 0-15 on third downs in a game? That’s hard to beat. Can’t recall anything like that.
  • Tyleik Williams playing well because he’s healthy, has a great attitude, and is getting reps. The athleticism keeps showing up.
  • Is there anything about the way Ryan Day runs this program that negates getting upset by lesser opponents? Day breaks the week down very well so that everybody understands it. He has a great intensity to him that can motivate the players.
  • Sonny Styles’ size is an added dimension because it allows him to attack the line of scrimmage.
  • What do you do to counteract sign stealing? “I’ve been instructed by the higher ups to not address that…” That’s the great thing about being middle management.
  • Jermaine Mathews doesn’t flinch. At the point of competitive excellence, he got his head back for the ball. He finished the play. He’s got a lot of naturalness. He takes coaching well. You can coach him hard.
  • What is the thought process for a DC when an offense has a second QB they bring in for the goal line? There’s only so much practice time you have, so you have to deal with that in practice, but you don’t have too much time for it so you just have to do what you normally do in those situations.
  • The players understand the system, so they can make quick adjustments, such as when Nicholas Singleton was making big gains last week and then he wasn’t.
  • Steele Chambers is always learning and growing. You really can’t discount the fact that he was a running back. He did have a really good week of practice last week, and Knowles didn’t want to give him “too much sugar” when he told him nice job in practice last week.
  • Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen breaks a lot of tackles in different ways. Defenders bounce off of him.
  • What is it about offensive schemes that make tight ends difficult to defend? When you’re closer to the line of scrimmage, things happen fast, so your eye discipline is compromised by the offensive line as well. That allows tight ends to get free quicker.
  • Wisconsin’s offense spreads a defense out more and they’ve added the RPO game. They still run with a tough back so it makes you more honest defensively.
  • What stands out about Wisconsin’s backup QB? They still run the same offense. He’s very similar to the starter, just less experience.
  • Josh Proctor has been through a lot of ups and downs. Just in life in general. “I think that’s why I’ve always coached college because he’s just one of those guys…” eventually you get to see the light bulb go on. It was frustrating for the both of them that it didn’t happen last year.
  • You are seeing safeties show up at different places and making plays at all times. That’s what a safety-driven defense looks like.
  • Are there good days and bad days when you’re calling plays? “It’s really one play at a time, and three plays ahead at the same time.” There’s really no time to say ‘Oh, that was good.’ Maybe for an instant, but you have to move on. “It’s just a highly focused job when you’re doing it right.” You try to get into a zone and stay there because that’s what you also want your players to do.
  • What did it mean to have a defensive performance like last week without Denzel Burke? It says they’re all buying in and they get in line ready to play. It all starts with the competition in practice and going against great receivers every day. Now they’re all hungry to play and they want their shot.
  • Jordan Hancock has really good football intelligence. That was his best game. He’s got a very steady attitude to be able to handle all of the things that are thrown at him. His competitive excellence is climbing all the time. He’s developing confidence. He’s got size, speed, athletic ability. He’s a willing tackler.
  • Are you more confident in the corners to hold up when you blitz? Yes, they’re holding up in all ways and they’re making plays.
  • Do you feel like things are rolling defensively? It’s his job to get the players to understand that when you start to play well, the expectations become higher. It’s an added pressure. “We can’t go backwards.” It’s his job to keep yelling at this defense.
  • How can this defense get better? They had some issues with some motion adjustments. They can do a better job of making a play when he makes a bad call. That’s joking, but at the same time, if you’re not perfect in everything, let’s make sure you still have leverage and get the ball on the ground.
  • What did Knowles see from Jordan Hancock’s attitude last year while dealing with an injury? He definitely wanted to do better and wasn’t in a position to do that, so he’s been motivated to do really well this year. And he prepared himself that way.
  • What’s it been like watching Wisconsin’s offense on film? They challenge you from sideline to sideline. All of their runs have passes off of them.

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