'Flying around' defenders shred UC's line
One of the challenges that Cincinnati was supposed to pose for Ohio State was its offensive line. It is a stout bunch.
In praise of the Bearcats in the days before kickoff, defensive line coach Larry Johnson likened their offensive line to those seen throughout the Big Ten. But Ohio State was hardly overmatched Saturday in a 42-0 win at Ohio Stadium.
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The defense limited the Bearcats to 107 yards rushing, stuffing the ground game for much of the game. Before the reserves took over in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati had gained only 27 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
“Our scheme is very sound,” co-coordinator Jeff Hafley said. “I think our D-line, and linebackers, and corners, and safeties, tackled well again. Guys were in the right fits. I think they were coached well all week by our staff. Our guys came to play. Our guys were tough. Our guys tackled.”
Hafley paused for a moment to add that he was eager to review the game on video.
“Our guys are playing with an edge to them,” Hafley said, “and it's hard to block them.”
When coach Ryan Day reflected on the defense, he was quick to acknowledge the effort from the front seven.
“I thought we owned the line of scrimmage,” Day said. “They were flying around.”
During the week, Ohio State players mentioned that Bearcats running back Michael Warren II would be difficult to tackle. He weighs more than 220 pounds, is a physical runner and rushed for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.
But Warren did little against the Buckeyes, gaining just 15 rushing yards on 10 carries. He had run for 92 yards the previous week against UCLA.
Linebacker Tuf Borland thought Ohio State’s defense benefitted from working against the Buckeyes' offense during the week.
In practice, they go against running back J.K. Dobbins, who’s fast and weighs nearly 220.
“We see similar runs every day in practice,” Borland said. “They have a big offensive line, a running back that runs hard. But we see that every day in practice, too, with our offensive line and J.K. They kind of prepared us. We had a good week of practice. Guys ran to the ball. We tackled pretty well. It was a good effort.”
The Buckeyes had been similarly stingy against the run in their opener last week, allowing 33 yards on 22 carries to Florida Atlantic.