Jim Knowles Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive Coordinator

Ohio State Spring Game: Jim Knowles Sees Potential All Over OSU Defense

COLUMBUS — Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles met with the media following Saturday’s annual spring game. He answered questions about the impact of depth up front, the potential for Mitchell Melton this season, the pride the cornerbacks have in holding up a standard, the growth of the young safeties, and much more. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

  • Where does DT Tywone Malone fit in the defensive line right now? “He’s developed, for sure. He wasn’t quite ready last year for a lot of reps. He’s shown a marked improvement. We really need him to come along.”
  • How did injuries in the secondary allow you to develop depth? “Every situation like that gives somebody an opportunity.” The depth was really down this spring because of the injuries at safety. Redshirt freshman Jayden Bonsu got a lot of reps in the spring and you saw him improve. True freshman Jaylen McClain is a great plus. He has football intelligence. You can point to him right now as a guy who is going to be a player.
  • Fifth-year senior defensive end Mitchell Melton is a combination player. He can do a bunch of different things for you. “We’re kind of loaded at that end position.” They haven’t needed it yet, but he could be somebody that gets involved with three defensive ends on the field together.
  • It has become an expectation now to limit offenses in the passing game. When he got to Ohio State they were ranked 96th in pass defense. They were 1st last year. The guys now view that as the standard, and you saw that in the first half of the spring game.
  • The depth at defensive tackle allows them to play to their strengths. “That’s my job. ‘What do we have and what do we do best?'” When you have defensive tackles that make tackles like OSU’s guys do, it changes how you call the game. You don’t have to do a lot to help them out because they’re making tackles.
  • How much does facing the QB run impact your preparation during the season? “It changes everything you do on a defense.” Your scheme better be designed to take it away and account for it, so it changes everything you do when you’re game planning.
  • When you have cornerbacks you can count on that are going to compete all the time no matter the situation, it changes the way you call the entire game. You can leave them on an island. You can switch up coverages. They take great pride in what they’re doing.
  • Calvin Simpson-Hunt came in late last year but “just competes every day.” He doesn’t say much. He’s just trying to live up to the standard of his teammates. It’s a great sign to see him continuing to step up.
  • Has CJ Hicks taken strides to be trusted as a starter? “Yes.” He has shown that he has talent. It’s Knowles’ job to put him in the best situations to be successful. “He can be a force.” He’s better when he’s blitzing or being directed, but he’s shown he can help this defense.

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