‘Fast and violent’ in preseason, Ohio defense ‘100% ready’ for its epic reveal against Notre Dame

Jim Knowles isn’t going to be romantic about the moment he stepped onto the field for Saturday’s first game at Ohio State University.

I was asked on Tuesday if I would take a moment to soak in the stages and conditions at Ohio Stadium before the Buckeyes’ season opener against Notre Dame. I’m going to stay and do my job. That’s what the players are expected to do.”

This is not to worry that the Buckeye defense that Knowles has rebuilt over the past eight months is ill-prepared for its grand announcement. Ohio State and Fighting In his last two press conferences before the Irish’s match, Knowles has only expressed his confidence in his unit, as the Buckeyes prepare for a full-blown defensive turnaround. We made no excuses for the short period of time required to do so.

Knowles said the Buckeyes left no stone unturned in their preseason prep, which fuels his belief in what Ohio State can do in a defensive debut.

“We are ready, we are ready. I mean, wherever they are right now, 100%, and that’s what I dial in my game plan.

Last year, Notre Dame finished 19th in scoring offense and 20th in passing offense in the nation. Defensively in these same categories, the Buckeyes ranked 38th and 96th respectively. But for a number of reasons, neither unit is his 2021 replica this year.

The Fighting Irish have lost some key pieces in their offense last season and will be starting quarterback for the first time under Tyler Buchner’s center. Ohio State returns with mostly the same pieces from last season’s defense, but its new scheme under Knowles is expected to lead to a significant statistical shift. said he was aiming for a top 10 overall defense, and Knowles said he was thinking of a top 5.

They just have energy levels, confidence, guys that play fast, play violent, and cause chaos. And it will be fun to watch. ”– Ryan Day on OSU defense

That’s a tall hurdle for a group that finished 59th in ERA a year ago, but neither coach has said anything to disappoint this week.

“I think it’s been a great preseason. I think the attitude is great. I think the toughness is great,” Day said. “Their attention to detail, the edge they had, this team wants to get better. But it means nothing until we play the game on Saturday night, so we’ll keep working on it and try to find a way to get to 1-0.”

Of course, when the 2022 season begins, the Buckeye offense will be of little concern. A reigning national leader in total yards per game last year, Day’s unit may be a prime contender to finish at the top of the same category this year when all is said and done.

So Ohio’s national title hopes may hinge on defensive changes Knowles can make. But while some head coaches may be keeping an eye on the defense in their own hands, given that premise, Day said what the Buckeyes showed on the practice range to the horseshoe on Saturday. He said he was excited to see what it brings.

“It would be great to see, just guys running around with great energy and great confidence,” Day said. “And that’s what this thing is going to be, that’s how they practiced, that’s the whole group in general. , there are guys who play fast, they play violent, they cause chaos, and it’s going to be fun to watch.”

What has stood out for Day and company over the past two months? It starts with the defensive line. It’s gotten top praise from nearly every Ohio State coach and player who’s asked about it recently. “I’m tired of watching movies and seeing them doing great things on the other side of the ball,” third-year center Luke Whipler said at Buckeye. practice.

Given Buchner’s inexperience and Notre Dame’s commitment to ball operations, Ohio State’s defensive line performance will be particularly important against Ireland. But Day also takes his hat off to the improvements other position groups have made on defense.

“Looking at the front, I think they certainly create a lot of confusion up front, chasing quarterbacks and causing problems up front in the run game,” Day said. It’s improved, they’re seeing things and diagnosing things faster, but the secondary is also playing at a pretty high level, so overall I think it’s just an overall improvement I think everyone is playing with confidence and I think it’s probably a combination of players on the other side of the ball who have more experience and are open to new schemes.”

Knowles said it was more than a new plan the Buckeyes adopted preseason. Several Buckeyes say the 2022 team has a tighter bond than the team that came before it, and Knowles is impressed with the mentality the group has cultivated in the offseason.

If all goes according to plan on Saturday, the Buckeyes look poised to make a defensive statement against their top-flight opponents at the start of the season.

“You’re installing your scheme, but you’re building a mindset all the time,” Knowles said. It’s how we do it every day and we’re actually going to do it on the grass, that’s how the game is.. So it’s really about expectations.

“Once players know you care about them, they’ll go to the wall for you. We believe we’re at that point.”

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