It is another big week for the Ohio State run defense to prove themselves, as Indiana's Tevin Coleman comes to Columbus as the nation's second leading rusher with 1,678 yards and 12 touchdowns under his belt. This season, he has rushed over 100 yards in every game except one (Penn State) and he rushed over 200 yards three times. NFL.com's Bucky Brooks has recently gushed about Coleman, writing that "he continues to generate a lot of buzz in NFL circles" and that he has "the stuff needed to be a feature back at the next level."
Coleman is a much more explosive runner than last week's foe, David Cobb, who showed his power by running through the Ohio State defense for 145 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, Coleman has three rushes over 70 yards (tied for first in the nation), seven carries over 60 yards (first in the nation), seven rushes over 50 yards (tied for second in the nation), 11 carries over 40 yards (second in the nation), 14 carries over 30 yards (tied for second in the nation), and 15 rushes for over 20 yards (third in the nation). Plain and simple, Coleman is electrifying and he is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball.
Indiana tries to get Coleman on the edge to use his breakaway speed. The majority of his damage against defenses come outside of the tackle box, as 97 out of his 214 carries have gone for over ten yards. In Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson's spread offense, they want to deploy Coleman mostly on inside zone, outside zone, power and sweep plays. The offense is not overly complicated but the running game is well executed. Coleman is a one cut runner who displays elite burst off of one cut primarily due to his hip flexibility. He gets into his second gear very quickly then tends to outrun the second level defenders.
Coleman is terrific at reading his blockers and finding that one crease to explode through for a big gain. Here is an example of what Coleman does best:
So how will the Buckeye defense stop a runner like Coleman? As we can see in that clip, if the linebackers or safeties overpursue, Coleman is one cut away from six points. The linebackers have to read their keys, be disciplined and not guess in the running game. There were too many instances versus Minnesota where a linebacker would overpursue or shoot through the wrong gap based on an incorrect guess.
Most importantly, it starts upfront with the two interior defensive linemen, Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington. They need to control and penetrate the A-gaps and B-gaps depending on their alignment, which will force Coleman to make a decision before he can get outside on the outside zone and sweeps. It starts with them, if they are disruptive then the linebackers can clean up near the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. With the poor Hoosier passing attack, I would expect the Buckeyes to load the box, and throw off their timing on the outside, forcing the young Hoosier quarterback to beat them.
This will be a good test for the run defense, which needs to improve before a possible Melvin Gordon showdown in the Big Ten Championship Game.