Last season was a disaster for the Ohio State football team’s secondary. At the beginning of last season it looked to be one of the team’s biggest strengths, but now it has to be looked on as the main reason for the collapse at the end of last year.
In its last 3 games, the Ohio State defense gave up 41 points to Michigan, 34 points to Michigan State, and 40 points to Clemson. This was due to an all-around poor effort, but it all stemmed from horrible play by the secondary. The Buckeyes corners and safeties ranked 112th out of 125 college football teams in pass defense last year. That was cause for concern, and generated a lot of changes going forward.
This year, Urban Meyer has brought in new defensive coaches Chris Ash and Larry Johnson to fix these glaring problems. Johnson is one of the best defensive line coaches and recruiters in the country. This year’s D-line looks to be one of OSU’s strong points, and it will continue to be going forward.
Chris Ash is coming from Arkansas, where he was the defensive coordinator. He will fill the role of co-defensive coordinator alongside Luke Fickell, as well as take over as the secondary coach. Ash has made his mark with the team already this spring, changing the entire mentality of the defense. He has changed the secondary from a zone coverage with countless gaping holes to a press coverage approach, which will solve one of the most obvious problems from last season. Buckeye fans around the world found themselves asking where the defense was countless times last season, and as one might expect, it led to one of the worst defensive season’s in Ohio State history.
The secondary will also consist of a new group of players, returning just one starter from last season. Doran Grant will have to be the anchor of this group in this, his senior campaign. Joining him in the secondary is an array of young, highly-touted talent. A pair of sophomore safeties in Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell look primed to win the starting jobs alongside junior Armani Reeves at corner. Depth will be important for this group, as many of these players remain untested to this point. Sophomore safety Cam Burrows and redshirt freshmen corners Eli Apple and Gareon Conley will be important players for this defense as well.
Secondary Depth Chart -
CB1 Doran Grant: 5-11, 193 pounds, Senior, Akron, OH
CB2 Armani Reeves: 5-10, 198 pounds, Junior, West Roxbury, MA
S Tyvis Powell: 6-3, 205 pounds, RS Sophomore, Bedford, OH
S Vonn Bell: 5-11, 200 pounds, Sophomore, Rossville, GA
Backup CB Eli Apple: 6-1, 194 pounds, RS Freshman, Vorhees, NJ
Backup CB Gareon Conley: 6-0, 190 pounds, RS Freshman, Massillon, OH
Backup S Cam Burrows: 6-0, 208 pounds, Sophomore, Trotwood, OH
My Prediction: This will be the Buckeyes’ biggest area improvement from last season, as it should be. Ash and his new scheme will work to perfection against the less athletic teams of the Big Ten, and the young corners will quickly find their forms and become one of the most formidable defensive secondaries in the nation. This will be the beginning of a long and ruthless reign of the Ohio State Buckeyes defense over the rest of the Big Ten.