Defensive backs practicing to avoid flags

Tim May
An official throws a flag for pass interference on Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Damon Arnette (3) against TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Jaelan Austin (2) during the first quarter of the NCAA football game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 15, 2018.

If Northwestern didn’t already have the fade route on its list of pass plays, the Wildcats probably added it this week as they prepare to take on Ohio State and maybe get a couple of pass-interference calls in the Big Ten championship game Saturday.

The Buckeyes were flagged five times for pass interference against Michigan last week, and three came when quarterback Shea Patterson and his receiver seemed to be looking for a flag as much as a reception. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was adamant this week that his defensive coaches try to rectify things, and coordinator Greg Schiano seconded that.

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“I’m not pleased with it,” Schiano said. “And they were penalties.”

Two were on cornerback Damon Arnette, and one each was on cornerback Kendall Sheffield, nickel back Shaun Wade and safety Jordan Fuller. Three kept alive or accelerated touchdown drives, and one accelerated a field-goal drive.

“You can say, ‘They called it tight.’ Well, if that’s the way they were going to call it, they were consistent, at least,” Schiano said of the officials. “They called it tight, but by the letter of the law, that’s (defensive pass interference). We’re better than that. We don’t need to do that to make the plays.

“There’s reasons for each one of them, but none of them had to happen. So, yeah, I’m not pleased with that, and we’re working very hard this week to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

A couple of times, it appeared the Michigan plan was to throw the ball up and see what would happen.

“I think that’s taught, but again, don’t give them a reason, don’t give them a way to call that penalty,” Schiano said of the message to his defensive backs.

He didn’t get into detail about coverage techniques, but grabbing is never part of the lesson. Gaining position on the receiver and looking back for the ball can help avoid the call.

“Sometimes it’s lack of focus. Sometimes it’s exhaustion, maybe, whatever it is,” Schiano said. “But we have to erase those, because you look at it, that was four or five free plays, there were some on third downs — (automatic) first down. We stop somebody, and then you give another set, another rack of plays. Good football teams, they make you pay for that.”


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