Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs ‘responsible’ for struggles against Oregon

Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs spoke with the media following the Buckeyes 35-28 loss to Oregon in which OSU struggled to stop the Ducks offensive attack.

Oregon rushed for 269 yards and threw for another 236 yards as Ohio State failed to protect the edge when Oregon ran the ball and failed to guard the middle of the field when the Ducks passed.

“My response is that I’m responsible. That’s my job,” Coombs said Saturday. “We have to play better and when I say we have to play better, I’m not blaming the players . . . I have to do a better job.”

On Monday, coach Ryan Day said Coombs is still the Buckeyes defensive coordinator but did not say whether Coombs will call plays against Tulsa this Saturday.

“It’s not just a single game, it’s a pattern,” Ryan Day said about Ohio State’s defense giving up too many points and too many yards. “We’re going to make some adjustments and changes. We have to.”

Ohio State played a staggering 24 players on defense against Minnesota in week one, in part to find out who is good enough to play this season. But the lack of continuity appeared to affect the Buckeyes who struggled against the run and later the play-action pass versus the Gophers. OSU used even more players on defense against Oregon with 26 Buckeyes taking at least one snap, but Coombs said he doesn’t see that as a weakness.

“We don’t believe we play too many players. I think we believe that we have a good number of players who can play,” Coombs said. “It’s still early in the season. This is when you find your guys out. It’s unfortunate it’s against a very, very challenging team.”

There were several glaring examples of Oregon exploiting Ohio State’s inability to protect the edge, especially on the left side of the field. The Buckeyes kept crashing their defensive ends inside and relying on a linebacker or safety to seal the edge, but that’s not what happened as you can see in the three touchdown plays below:

There were times Ohio State tried to predict a run to the boundary by having a safety creep up into a better outside position in order to make a play for negative or limited yards. The problem with that was Oregon sometimes saw the Buckeyes trying to do it and made them pay by taking advantage of the space left open in the middle of the field as you can see in this 77-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second half:

Ohio State left the middle of the field open to passing plays too, giving Oregon chunks of yards, which kept the Buckeyes honest to the point where they couldn’t predict when the Ducks would utilize the outside run that gave them fits the whole game.

The Buckeyes will have two weeks to get it right by playing far inferior competition in Tulsa and Akron before returning to Big Ten play on Oct. 2 against Rutgers. Whether Coombs remains as defensive coordinator by that date remains to be seen and certainly isn’t a sure thing following Day’s comments Tuesday.

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