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Ohio State Breakdown: Secondary

Our review of Saturday evening's game has been pretty harsh so far. Part of that might just be how much it stings to lose. Still, there's no question that the team didn't perform well. Even though a good performance might still have resulted in a loss - Ohio State looked terrific - we'd be remiss not to analyze what went wrong.

Well, it wasn't just the offense that laid an egg. The defense was a disappointment in my mind. Let's start with the biggest culprits first...

The Austin Police Department Anyone else miss Tarrell Brown?

Okay, okay. No more jokes. No going back on Mack at all here; he did what he had to do.

Boy, did we miss Brown, though. We hear over and over about how every member of the defensive backfield is supposed to be able to play all four positions. Unfortunately, that wasn't true on Saturday night. Mike Griffin was outmatched in pass coverage as he tried in vain to take on more cover duties to compnesate for Brown's absence. Brown's two replacements, Ryan Palmer and Brandon Foster, were routinely beat in coverage.

We can't say that any one player or factor decided the outcome of this game - it was a mix of everything - but there's little doubt that Brown's suspension hurt the team significantly. While Aaron Ross worked his tail off trying to stay with Ginn, Brown's replacements got torched over and over by Anthony Gonzalez. At the very end of the half, Ross himself was left in man coverage with Ginn; Smith looked off the safety, Ginn ran a perfect blazing route, and the ball was on the money. Touchdown. Ball game.

There's plenty of talent in this group, of course, and Brown's already been reinstated. For one night, though, we were outmatched, and it was decisive. We can point to the miss opportunities on offense, but even a B+/A- effort from the offense would have had trouble keeping pace with the Buckeyes. Tressel went into full Lead Protect Mode early in the second half; had they gunned all game, they'd have scored 35+. We weren't close to stopping their passing attack. In that sense, our complaints about the offense don't even matter that much. The defense was whupped, too.

More on the defensive line and linebackers next.  For this unit, a Grade: D