This past Saturday, we saw Ohio State’s most impressive defensive performance in recent memory. I usually say something along the lines of “let’s take a look at the good and the bad” but there really wasn’t much “bad” so we’ll just be taking a look at the “good” this week.
Ohio State played a heavy dose of Cover 1 in coverage throughout the day. Below, Jim Knowles called for Cover 1 Rat. However, none of Penn State’s receivers were able to get open, which was a common occurrence throughout the day. This forced Allar to try scrambling but Cody Simon, who was the “rat” player on this play, was there to bring him down for a short gain:
Knowles also ran Cover 6 at times. See an example below, with Ohio State running Cover 4 to the field (bottom of the screen) and Cover 2 to the boundary (top of the screen):
Ohio State also ran a fair amount of Cover 2. Below, Knowles called for Cover 2 with a TORCH stunt on the defensive line. Note how Tommy Eichenberg carries the #2 (inside) receiver to his side of the field which prevents Penn State from finding an open man in the high hole:
The TORCH stunt is a read stunt by the defensive tackles. I think Cody Alexander’s recent Instagram post does a good job explaining it:
Knowles also opted to go with Cover 3 Buzz on a few occasions, such as below:
One of the reasons the Cover 3 Buzz call worked so well in the above clip is because Penn State called a mesh concept, which is best designed for beating man coverage. Penn State likely expected man coverage here given that it was 3rd-and-1, so going with zone coverage was a good call by Knowles to get the 3rd down stop.
Knowles also called for Cover 1 pressures quite a bit throughout the day, such as below where the pressure nearly gets home and Ohio State is in good man coverage across the board:
Knowles also added a new Cover 1 blitz this week that Penn State struggled to pick up throughout the day. See an example below:
to pick up the Defensive End stunting to the A-gap, and they never had any receivers break open.
Another new call from Knowles on Saturday was a blitz that sent the Nickel to the B-gap. Watch this work to perfection as Penn State tries to catch Ohio State sleeping by running Zone Cab on 3rd-and-5:
Ohio State may have truly had their best game of the season against the run on Saturday. One common theme throughout the day was that the two co-starters at Nose Tackle for the Buckeyes (Mike Hall and Ty Hamilton) really dominated Penn State’s Center against the run.
Below, for example, Penn State runs Split Zone. Meanwhile, Ohio State runs a PINCH stunt and Hamilton drives the center into the backfield, which forces the ball-carrier to bounce outside. Hamilton then beats the Center to close the A-gap and combine on the tackle with Steele Chambers:
And see the following diagram of a PINCH stunt – this is simply a stunt that closes every gap between the Offensive Tackles with the goal of spilling the ball to the outside:
And in the next clip, Penn State again runs Split Zone. Once again, however, Hamilton drives the center into the backfield and every gap is accounted for. This was great linebacker play from Eichenberg filling the B-gap:
In the next clip, you’ll see Penn State try running Zone Cab, but Hall is able to beat the Center badly and get to the ball-carrier at the line of scrimmage:
And the final example of this can be seen in the next clip of Penn State trying to run Split Zone on 3rd and short. Hall drives the Center straight into the Running Back, and Josh Proctor comes up to fill the B-gap for the big 3rd down stop:
It is tough to complain about anything after Saturday’s defensive performance. All three levels of the defense played phenomenally.