When something goes wrong, Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said, the Buckeyes put the issue under a microscope.

The question, to borrow a medical analogy, is simple: Is it benign or malignant? Is it a problem easily correctable or the result of something deeper?

In the Buckeyes’ otherwise solid defensive performance against UNLV last week, the one red flag — make that yellow flag — was repeated pass-interference calls that kept Rebels’ drives alive.

Ohio State committed three such penalties, two by Kendall Sheffield, who also was penalized for a holding call. Coach Urban Meyer didn’t mince words about the penalties after the game, calling them “terrible.”

On Monday, as the Buckeyes turned to this week’s game against Rutgers, Meyer said much the same thing.

“We’ve got to get that fixed and move forward,” he said. “It's not effort-related. It's certainly not talent-related. It's technique-related.”

Meyer was hesitant to be too definitive because he spends more of his time with the offense and defers to Schiano. The coordinator’s view, after studying the plays in question, was more forgiving.

“I know people are a little bit in a hysteria about the pass interference,” he said. “I’m not. You just keep playing. You play your way through it. It’s kind of like a batter, when you’re just not hitting the ball and you’re flying out instead of hitting into the power alley.”

When it comes to defending the pass, the Buckeyes are like a slugger willing to accept strikeouts as a tradeoff. Ohio State prides itself on playing press, man-to-man defense with physical play against receivers. But it comes with risk, especially with inexperienced players.

Denzel Ward was in the Buckeyes’ three-man rotation at cornerback last year, but Sheffield was in junior college and Damon Arnette a role player.

“It’s real close,” Schiano said. “We’ll get it right. These are real good players, real good corners.”

Ohio State was called for two pass-interference calls against Oklahoma and one against Indiana. A common thread with most of the calls was that defenders didn’t turn their head to find the ball. Doing so permits the defender to have equal rights to the ball. The practical effect of that is that jostling with the receiver is less likely to draw a flag.

Schiano said defenders are instructed to turn their head only if they are not trailing the receiver.

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“If you’re behind him, you don’t,” he said, “because all you’re going to get to see is someone celebrating over your shoulder because the guy is going to catch the ball.”

It is clear that the Buckeyes’ philosophy of press coverage won’t change because of a few interference calls.

“Playing aggressive is definitely our whole mantra as a defense,” safety Jordan Fuller said. “Don’t play scared. Don’t think. Just go as hard as you can. We live with the results after that. That’s really how we take every play, every game.”

Building and maintaining confidence is essential for that. Asked about Sheffield’s, Schiano said he wasn’t worried because that’s not the cornerback’s nature.

He mentioned the holding call, which came on a quick slant.

“If you play press coverage, that’s going to happen once in a while,” Schiano said. “We’ll keep tweaking it. Whenever we have an issue around here, we put laser lights on it and we figure out how to get it fixed. It’s not where they’re very far off. Those will turn into productive plays.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch