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Fans: Prep for a long afternoon

October 19, 2012
By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

If you're heading to the Ohio State game this Saturday against Purdue, you'd better settle in or maybe even take a Snicker's.

Two offenses that have been scoring points in bunches along with two defenses that have been getting gashed with regularity are about to meet in a noon kickoff.

Before Urban Meyer's arrival in Columbus, most of the rumblings you heard on call-in-radio shows, read on message boards or blogs was about the Buckeyes' inept offense.

However, now the offense is scoring more than 40 points a week and getting better each week with the spread attack. It's on the other side of the ball where OSU fans, coaches and players are all becoming restless because the defense unit, which was always known as the silver bullets, is playing more like silver beebees rather than bullets.

In everything we've gathered this week, it's been addressed, but will it be carried out?

It's gotten to the point where Meyer - an offensive genius - made an appearance at the defensive meetings last Saturday, just 12 or so hours after watching the Buckeyes give up 49 points at Indiana.

"I'm not a big believer in screaming, yelling and throwing Gatorade bottles against the wall," Meyer said. "Sometimes you have to do that, however, you have to fix what the problem is."

Earlier in the season, the lack of a pass rush was the biggest issue. Then the issue that was the most concerning was the missed tackles. Now, it's the big plays. Ohio State is allowing 277 yards per game through the air and 122 yards on the ground. The 400 yards a game they permit ranks 69th overall in the NCAA.

"Instead of just complaining, whining and making noise, we have to put a plan together," Meyer said. "We have to eliminate big plays. I think we gave up 14 'big' plays in there last week."

Obviously, it's well documented that the defensive unit has been banged up, including linebacker Ettiene Sabino, who will miss at least three more weeks with a broken leg. Other players have been in and out of the lineup, including Nathan Williams, who missed last week due to a concussion.

To help combat the issue of the injuries and lack of depth, Ohio State made a decision last week to move Zach Boren to linebacker. He played well with a team-high 10 tackles.

"Right now, we're putting an APB out for tough guys," Meyer said. "Inexperience, youth, injuries, whatever. Those are really a good, solid excuse and there's probably some truth to that, however, we don't deal with in that. We deal in improving."

However, even with depth a concern, at Ohio State - and under Meyer - those excuses won't fly because it's next man up.

"It's been absurd how many big plays we've given up," Meyer said. "We have to go hard with relentless effort for four to six secons, finish plays and get leverage on the ball."

While many fans - and pizza delivery boys in Columbus - are saddling the blame on defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, Meyer wouldn't go anywhere near that far.

'I'm not happy at all with what's going on on defense," Meyer said. "That includes players, coaches and I think we can all get better. It's a team effort. We've got good coaches, good players and we'll move forward and get better."

The process of getting better be quick or there are going to be many more restless nights for the coaches, players and fans. And the unbeaten streak will come to an end regardless how well Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and company are playing on the other side of the ball.

"The question right here about do we want to win 48-47?," Meyer said. "We want to win, but no, Ohio State is going to be a defensive school ... absolutely. Our teams are going to be defensive, no question."

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