Jim Knowles Ohio State Defensive Coordinator

Jim Knowles Sees Constant Improvement, Room For Growth In Ohio State Defense

COLUMBUS — Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with the media Tuesday afternoon for his weekly question-and-answer session. He answered a slew of personnel questions and discussed several reasons why his defense is playing so well this season. The highlights of everything he had to say can be found in the highlights below.

  • If Lathan Ransom is out for a couple of weeks, what does that do for the configuration. Sonny Styles would be at strong safety. There would be no concerns about having Styles back there with Josh Proctor.
  • What jumped out about Davison Igbinosun when they were looking at him in the portal? He was aggressive, played with confidence, gets his hands on people. He’s not afraid to challenge people. You could see that he was a willing tackle. It was a dynamic that they thought they needed after last year.
  • Only allowing one 100-yard rusher this year, is that a credit to the defense, or how the offensive game is played now? “I feel like it’s improvement. It’s confidence.” Guys understand their role in this defense. You spend a lot of time on a game plan and sometimes it changes as the game goes on. “I feel like in particularly in the run game, we’re able to make adjustments and it shows up.”
  • They had Sonny Styles at deep safety a bit last week because it was a nickel game. They wanted to find ways to get Styles on the field with Jordan Hancock playing so much.
  • It’s possible that the long-term plan for Sonny Styles is as a deep safety. He can add a different dimension as you look to the future and structuring things.
  • Anybody who is serious about watching and studying the game, you see that Jack Sawyer is controlling things at the line of scrimmage and getting off of blocks. He was involved in all of those plays in the goal-line stand. That may not show up in the sack statistics but it shows up on film.
  • Rutgers QB can run the ball, how does that change your plan this week? You always have to be ready to face that all the time because anybody can do it. You have to put some things in to where you’re always ready for it.
  • They are not celebrating anything on defense. “There’s no time for celebration.” You’re always highlighting the things that you’re doing well, and then fixing the things you can get better at. “It’s just a constant process.”
  • Without Lathan Ransom, if something happens to Jordan Hancock at nickel, they could slide Denzel Burke or Davison Igbinosun inside, rather than asking true freshman Jermaine Mathews to do that.
  • Why does it seem like there’s always one good drive per game against this defense? “You’re right. That happens. I don’t like it. You’re just constantly trying to learn.” You’re processing and fixing. Having that ability to adjust is a good part of having guys around for year two.
  • “There is a toughness that goes along with our sport.” Even more so on defense. These guys put in so much work. “They work 365 days a year.” And you only get a limited number of games, so you don’t want to miss any of them. “It’s a tough man’s game. No doubt. No doubt.” As he always jokes with offensive coaches, “You can’t punt on defense.” Somebody has to make the tackle. Somebody has to put the other guy on the ground.
  • Tommy Eichenberg made an amazing play on the shovel pass at the goal line. They didn’t blitz correctly, putting Eichenberg in a tough spot to make a play, but he did it. He got off his block and made the tackle.
  • When did you know that Cody Simon was going to play more than he did last year? They want to play him more, but a lot of times when he’s out there, the offense goes three and out. “I still believe that he’s going to get more snaps. And he deserves it.” He sees the field the same way Tommy Eichenberg. He thinks like Knowles does. They understand why he’s calling what he’s calling.
  • Lathan Ransom has been much improved this year. His eyes are more disciplined. In the past, he would see too much. Now he sees a little in order to see a lot.
  • Rutgers QB Gavin Wimsatt will be a challenge. This is an offense that likes to control the ball, so you have to be aware of him picking up the first down by running the ball.
  • Why did you go with the dime last week. It’s been about matchups. Cam Martinez can help them in those situations. He hasn’t been healthy but he’s back.
  • They have seen Hero Kanu showing up in practice on inside drill. They’ve been working him a lot in practice. He made a good play on second down against Wisconsin. The defensive tackles have been beating the blocks and making the tackles this year.

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